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August 31, 2016

The Joy of Athleticism and Camaraderie

Dr. Kevin O’Donnell grew up in southern New Jersey in the Pine Barrens region, a heavily forested area of coastal plain that remarkably resembles northeastern Wisconsin in climate and foliage. “It’s not the New Jersey most people hear about. I grew up in a farming area and played baseball and soccer as a kid and football in high school.”

The Joy of Athleticism and Camaraderie

Kevin O’Donnell, MD, joins ThedaCare Orthopedic Care, Area HS Sports Medicine Team

Dr. Kevin O’Donnell grew up in southern New Jersey in the Pine Barrens region, a heavily forested area of coastal plain that remarkably resembles northeastern Wisconsin in climate and foliage. “It’s not the New Jersey most people hear about. I grew up in a farming area and played baseball and soccer as a kid and football in high school.”  He shared a passion for downhill skiing with his parents and sisters, so the ways he sees it, it’s natural he and his wife would end up in Wisconsin. “Beautiful countryside, lots of football fans, and good fishing and waterskiing.”

Dr. O’Donnell, one of the newest members of the ThedaCare Orthopedics Care team, first learned about ThedaCare when he traveled with the Philadelphia Eagles to Lambeau Field in 2016. Working for the Eagles was just one of the opportunities that grew out of his sports medicine fellowship at The Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  He would also serve on the training staff for the 2016 NCAA champion Villanova basketball team and get to know the members of the Philadelphia Phillies, whom he describes as “funny and down-to-earth.”

While in residency at the University of Miami, Dr. O’Donnell flew to Tokyo to complete a pre-contract physical for Ichiro Suzuki, the highly sought-after right fielder who would ultimately sign a multimillion dollar contract with the Miami Marlins.  “He is a highly-regarded, kind, and genuine person. And for me, to have the chance to meet him and then Skype with the Marlins’ ownership—it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Dr. O’Donnell gets even more enthused as he starts to talk about young athletes and adults who make time to stay active. “Young active people, whether they are in school or have young families of their own, give me the opportunity to care for them as a whole person. It’s not just about making the team or reaching a career goal. We can sit and talk about the long game, how they want to come out of their particular situation, for the short and long term. We have options. The same injury on two different people can be anatomically the same, but the treatment and rehab can vary widely based on each person’s outlook on life.”

Joking that he likes 35-year-old weekend warriors because, “they have the same issues I have,” Dr. O’Donnell is especially upbeat about his new assignment to Neenah High School as the ThedaCare sports medicine director who works alongside Heidi Neustifter, the school’s full time ThedaCare-contracted licensed athletic trainer. He will also attend to student athletes in Oshkosh and Waupaca this school year. “I want these kids to really enjoy this stage in their lives, when they can play and participate for the love of the game. I love to watch kids develop over four years in high school, not just physically, but in their level of commitment, their aspirations, and their work ethic. There is such joy to be found in athleticism and camaraderie at that age. It’s definitely where I want to be.”

Dr. O’Donnell is an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon who will practice at multiple locations on behalf of ThedaCare Orthopedic Care.

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