Dr. Kathleen Weber is poised to become the first woman to lead the Major League Baseball (MLB) Team Physicians Association in 2016. She is the Director of Primary Care/Sports Medicine and Women's Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
was an important interview for me for two reasons. The first reason is
my daughter. She is 11 and aspires to make soccer her career. She has a
big wall sticker of soccer phenom Alex Morgan
above her bed and wears a pink headband like Alex. I want to do
whatever I can to help her reach that goal, but I stop short of being
overbearing and pushing too hard too soon. Being able to speak to a
professional who has seen what pushing too hard looks like was a gift.
other reason for talking with Dr. Weber is professional. As someone who
works with and studies about women in science, I have sometimes been
told, "At least medicine isn't an issue anymore." Clearly, there are
still systemic issues in medicine in regards to when it comes to women
beyond their representation in medical school. To realize that in 2015
we are still celebrating and marking "firsts" for women doctors is
remarkable -- and not in a good way. I hope that Dr. Weber's work will
inspire young women who aspire to be athletic trainers and physicians
and practice in any locker room and sideline.
I recently chatted with her about sports, being a first and the difference in athletes by sport:
What does it mean to you to be the first woman elected to be the
president-elect of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians
Dr. Weber: It is a great honor for my work
to be respected by my colleagues. It is a privilege for them to trust me
with this leadership role.
VLF: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Weber: I plan to continue the community and leadership that our
organization provides. This includes continuing to improve our academic
meetings where we discuss issues such as safety. Safety is a big issue
VLF: We know that in terms of safety, concussions are a huge issue with football, but what are the big concerns in baseball?
Weber: In baseball it is mostly overuse issues. Hamstrings, pitchers
elbows and rotator cuffs. Concussions are an issue, but not as big an
issue as in football. But there is research occurring to develop a cap
for pitchers to protect them from balls that are hit straight back to
them. We also are always working on ways to better protect the catcher.
VLF: How influential is your position and organization? Does MLB listen to your opinions on safety?
Weber: I also serve on the Medical Advisory Board which does present
recommendations to MLB. We do find that they listen to our findings and
VLF: I was impressed that you work with so many
different teams from baseball to basketball, but also women's football.
What differences to you see between the sports and even between men and
Dr. Weber: To me they are more alike
than different. For one, every athlete wants to win. Their common
denominator is that they all have a high drive to be their best. They
all work very hard. I will say that the difference is how they express
frustration and emotion. But male athletes are just as emotional as
VLF: As the mom of an 11-year-old girl who plays soccer and dances, what advice do you have to keep our children in shape?
Weber: First of all, kids should be having fun. Once you stop having
fun you lose the urge to compete. Also, your daughter playing soccer and
participating in dance is good. Kids shouldn't specialize until they
are much older. Specializing too early is what causes repetitive
VLF: What advice would you give kids who have Olympic or professional sport dreams?
Weber: I tell kids that they need to work hard and have fun. Learn to
eat well and rest well. Kids need to learn how to recover from injuries.
They should enjoy their family and do well in school. As for parents,
you need to give them access to good coaches. If a coach shows you that
he or she is a jerk, walk away.
Note: Interview is from notes, not a transcription. Ideas were summarized and/or combined for space.