Former Volleydon using experience to help athletes
Sherman donates time as chiropractor to IPFW
By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel
Dustin Sherman has always had more stubbornness than a gaggle of terrible 2-year-olds. No, not in an obstinate, “I’m never doing that” way, but rather in a never-quit, “I’ll show you” way.
Coaches build teams around athletes like that because they can use them as whipping boys to drive teammates to raise intensity or improve. How many times have coaches said, “If only I could take this player’s heart and put it into this athlete’s body” why then they’d have something?
At 5-foot-10 with the wiry body of a stray dog, Sherman never had that something, but he made the most of what he had. He was so tough as an IPFW men’s volleyball player from 2000 to 2004 that he played despite having the mushy back of an 80-year-old man.
Because of a weightlifting accident between his freshman and sophomore year, Sherman had spondylothesis, a slip of one vertebral body on top of another. Along with a stress fracture in his back, there were four bulging disks and degenerative changes, which meant Sherman was not a candidate for surgery as any fusion would have severely limited his movement.
“I refused to give up my life for my injury,” Sherman said. “I will deal with the consequences later, but I’m not going to sit there and complain. I am not just going to quit.”
He should have been sitting in a wheelchair instead of on the bench. Somehow he kept playing, signing waivers to allow him to participate. He did everything he could to strengthen his core muscles and take pressure off his back, but when he couldn’t play, he was virtually an assistant coach, constantly making suggestions to teammates and coach Arnie Ball.
“I remember talking to (team doctor) Eric Jenkinson before my senior year and him saying, ‘I don’t care what you sign, you’re not playing. You’re not going to be able to pick up your kids when you’re 40!’ ” Sherman said. “I was like ‘Who cares about that, I want to play.’ It was stupidity. I did everything I could to hide what was going on.”
One time he dove so hard for a ball in practice that he suffered spinal shock like two football players hitting head-to-head. He couldn’t move from the waist down to roll off the court. He’d lie on an inversion board after every practice, defying doctors, trainers and family members who tried to knock common sense into him.
He was foolish but he loved every second of it, and he’s one of Ball’s favorite players.
“He made himself the player that he was,” Ball said. “He added so much to our practices because of the way he played and his mentality.”
So fast-forward 10 years, and guess what Sherman does for a living? He’s a doctor who helps athletes and others at Aaron Chiropractic. Guess who one of his friends and colleagues is? Jenkinson. What does he do every Tuesday afternoon? He donates his time and care to anyone in the IPFW athletic department. What’s his pet cause? He’s an advocate for athlete training health.
But is he any smarter about how he handles his own health?
“I’m probably the strongest core-wise I’ve ever been and the smartest I’ve ever been, but I still do dumb things,” Sherman said. “I was cutting a tree down in my front yard and it landed across my driveway. My wife comes driving up, so I leaned down and grabbed a limb to pull it away. I just dropped.
“I know how to help myself as far as what I need to do to recover. I know the positions so when I do have that lapse of stupidity, I what to do to get through things quickly.”
Now he coaches boys volleyball, serves as the athletic department’s chiropractor and still plays every once in a while, but he says he knows his limits. He uses everything he went through to learn from and help others, and he’s good at it because he’s so diligent and determined. If anything, he’s even more passionate now.
His ultimate goal?
“To put myself out of business. That’s pretty easy, isn’t it?” he said with a laugh. “Why wouldn’t it be? In that dream world if we can get to every single person before they are injured … I would love to work on my hobby car full time or be a chef or do other things that I love to do. I know that’s not realistic, but I can do my part.”
Sure, it’s improbable, but he’s stubborn like that.