Two Merrick-based physicians are not only making a big difference in their community, but also on the soccer field.
Chiropractor Dr. Fred Jones and physical therapist Robert McKee, both of whom have their practices in Merrick, were recently chosen by the Mineola Portuguese Soccer Club to be the team’s physicians.
The amateur team is part of the Long Island Soccer Football League, in which the squad is the Division 1 defending champion. In 2011, the team will celebrate its 75th anniversary.
The only Long Island-based professional soccer team is the Rough Riders, which plays in the U.S. Soccer League and has its home field in Huntington. Jones initially began his work as an athletic trainer for the Rough Riders after the team’s owner, Peter Zeratin, chose him after seeing him as a patient.
Gabriel Marques, the general manager of the Mineola Portuguese Soccer Club, met Jones while he worked with the Rough Riders, and asked him to join his team as the physician. "They saw my credentials through the Long Island Rough Riders," Jones said.
Jones, 56, earned his secondary degree as a certified chiropractic sports physician more than10 years ago. He and McKee have known each other for 15 years, after meeting one another through patients.
Jones, who grew up in Deer Park, moved to Merrick in 1987, and brought his practice with him. McKee, of Massapequa, has worked in Merrick for 25 years.
The two became team physicians for the Mineola Portuguese in 2009, but it wasn’t easy at first. According to Jones, the biggest problem was getting the coaches and players to understand the severity of certain injuries, and how detrimental they could become if not tended to properly.
“Initially it was rough,” said Jones, “because they weren't used to being told that they can't play. But we got through that. I had to make sure they understood to let me make the decisions. If they understood the decisions, the players will be on the field faster.”
Slowly, Jones and McKee began to gain the trust of the players and coaching staff. “You have your growing pains, and we went through that stage,” Jones said. “Now our players come to me and McKee first. Now that that's established, we've become like the captain of the injury section."