In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

April 14, 2016

Mayo Staff Helping Minnesota Lynx Gear Up for Preseason

By In the Loop

Mayo's Charles Barta and Nancy Cummings, M.D. share how they keep the Minnesota Lynx players healthy.We're sure we don't need to remind you that Mother's Day is fast-approaching. (It's May 8, if you did forget. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.) We're also sure you’ve already done your shopping. But if not, we have a perfect, one-size-fits-all gift idea: tickets to the greatest show on hardwood, the Minnesota Lynx women's professional basketball team. The three-time WNBA champions will play their first-ever preseason game in Rochester's Taylor Arena on Sunday, May 8. (Did we mention that's Mother's Day?)

As the Lynx prepare to defend their third championship in five years, we asked the team’s head trainer and physician — Mayo's Charles Barta and Nancy Cummings, M.D. — to step out of predraft meetings this week to tell us more about their roles with the team and what they're doing to keep the players healthy for this year's regular season. It’s a process that starts, Dr. Cummings tells us, at the end of each season during “exit physicals to go over any possible nagging injuries that might come into play during the offseason."

Once the preseason and regular seasons begin, Dr. Cummings’ days at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine at Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis are spent tending to any health-related issues the team's players might be dealing with. "I come in around 7:30 every morning and if it's not a game day, Chuck (Barta) and I usually touch base on anything that's going on with any of the players," she says. "If he has a specific concern about a player, I'll then go over to the training room to check on their progress once they come in." And should a player require an x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, Dr. Cummings says all they have to do is walk across the hall. "That's the beauty of our facility," she says. "We can get those results almost immediately."

When asked if they ever take a player's injury personally, both Barta and Dr. Cummings gave the same response: No. "But that doesn't mean we don't look back to see if there are ways we can reduce the risk of them happening in the first place," says Barta.

Dr. Cummings says accomplishing that, however, is a constant "balancing act." She juggles getting the players back on the court "soon enough, but not too soon" after an injury, while also treating them no differently than the other patients who come to her for help. "I try to not think of them as just basketball players but as people who, like the rest of us, want to still be using their joints well into their eighth and ninth decades of life," Dr. Cummings says. "And that's a balancing act because their livelihood depends on them being able to play. But they're still patients to me first, and players second."

Plenty of good seats are still available for the game on May 8. You can buy yours here. Mayo employees, students and volunteers can use the promo code "MAYO" to purchase discounted tickets.

There's lots of virtual seats to leave a comment below. Then, you can use the social media tools to share this story with others.

Tags: Charles Barta, Dr Nancy Cummings, Employee Stories, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, Mayo Clinic Square, Minnesota Lynx

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