It wasn’t enough to be the rehabilitation director for the Pittsburgh Pirates or to be the first Filipino to have the job. As Dr. Erwin Benedict Valencia ’11 sat in a café, taking a breather from a whirlwind travel schedule, he realized that he wanted—needed—something more.
“I wanted to do something for myself and the millions of Filipinos who look up to me,” he says, remembering that day in 2012. That year, the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate left the Pirates after eight seasons and started a socially responsible global education company called KinetIQ and the BeKinetIQ Foundation to train and mentor physical therapists and other health care professionals in places where access to training is limited at best.
And, in September 2014, he accepted a job for the NBA’s New York Knicks and was recently promoted to the director of training and conditioning. “This position is a way to show Filipinos what I’m doing and what they can do, too,” he says.
The job is demanding, but Valencia makes time for his education company and foundation, traveling this May to Japan to host a two-day workshop to teach physicians, strength conditioning coaches, judo-therapists, and other health professionals how to be mindful clinicians.
“The biggest barrier in Japanese society is close contact and intimacy,” he explains, which can negatively affect practitioners’ interactions with patients. Through small group work, he helped them overcome that barrier by learning how to empathize with patients and collaborate with colleagues to work with purpose and passion.
Next, he traveled to the Philippines to host a leadership summit and a charity sports performance camp to teach teenagers best practices in sport. With donated trigger point balls and kinesio tape, he taught them basic soft tissue management and injury care for ankle sprains.
Valencia is certain that none of this would have been possible without his DPT. “It not only made me a better clinician, but also made me more prepared to educate. It taught me to explain what I was doing, not just do it,” he says.
When he’s not with the Knicks, Valencia continues to travel the world—to speaking engagements like TEDx, Awesomeness Fest, and his company’s events, Konnect4Leaders and Konnect4Kids—in the hope of inspiring others to follow their dreams.
“I will always find ways to give back,” he says. “We should all, if nothing else, dream to inspire others.”
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