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All you need is LOVE

Call to care for one another drives USF's Dr. Matt Hicks

The call of Christ to serve in meaningful ways drives everything Dr. Matt Hicks, a 1987 USF biology and chemistry graduate and Fort Wayne Orthopedics surgeon, does.

His faith leads the university’s sports physician to a broad view of service—from helping USF athletes and patients recover from injuries to treating post-earthquake victims in Haiti.

A four-year USF basketball player, he developed strong friendships and graduated well prepared for his next step to Indiana University Medical School.

“I enjoyed the small teacher-to-student ratio, and the professors were very engaged in helping me to be successful,” he said. “I had a really good relationship with a group of players, and we won more games than had been typical. Under Coach Holstein, I, along with a fellow graduate, was honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

A mentor guided him professionally. “I had a high school friend whose father was an orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “I job shadowed him and decided to pursue orthopedics as a career. He helped me through letters of recommendation, professional knowledge, and guidance during training. Orthopedics is a wonderful way to help young athletes return to their sport, improve the minor injuries of weekend athletes, and care for older athletes.”

His USF history led to a professional relationship that now brings him to his alma mater routinely to care for student-athletes. “The trainers, coaches and I are in constant contact during the week regarding the condition of team members,” he said. “We work hard with student-athletes to help them recover from injuries in a timely fashion.”

He and his wife, USF grad and cheerleader Lisa (Berry), are also big fans, taking in events with their children and watching the games and athletes closely.

That vigilance once took him to the skies to help out an athlete.

“During the national basketball championship week two years ago, I was watching the game via streaming Internet, and DeJovan Sawyer-Davis sprained his ankle,” he said. “I thought he had a trigger point and maybe I could inject the point of tenderness to let him play in the championship game against Walsh. I called the athletic director, Mark Pope, to see what we could do. He found a plane, and we flew to the game. We were able to take away DeJovan’s pain so he could run. He played, and we won the game.”

Keeping his skills in his own backyard just isn’t in his play book. Two years ago when a massive earthquake hit Haiti, he traveled with a medical mission group to tend to the wounded.

“We spent every day working in a hospital in Port-au-Prince,” he said two days before departing for another trip in February. “I’ve been looking for an opportunity to go back, so I’m returning with Jesus in Haiti Ministries. During the trip, we plan to review the progress made in several of the orphanages as well as the school Jesus in Haiti Ministries supports, and develop an agenda for the coming year.”

A member of Blackhawk Ministries in Fort Wayne, his work is a natural extension of his—and USF’s—beliefs. “It’s a way to express our faith in action and be involved in the care of others,” he said. “USF has also been very active in service, and that’s what Christ instructs us to do—give back in ways that are meaningful.”

He loves giving back to USF.

“I really enjoy being able to take care of my alma mater’s student-athletes,” he said. “It’s not often you can interact with students of the school you attended, encourage them in their studies and sports, and help them reach for their dreams without getting discouraged during injuries.”

It’s a lasting relationship. “The coaches know I have a personal commitment as a USF student-athlete myself. I’m on two USF boards and integrally involved with the university. I’m caring for the athletes to get them back on track as soon as possible, because I enjoyed my time here so much and can give back to them,” he said.

“I have traveled to five championship games with USF, and I think only Sister Elise has been to more.”

Saint Francis Alumni Magazine

Read more stories like this in the Winter 2012 Magazine

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