If you asked the teenaged Jeff Hendra, ’95 &’98 where he would be when he grew up, he would have said the NHL. While his dreams faded of making hockey a full-time job, his true passion wasn’t too far off. Today, Hendra works side-by-side with professional athletes. But instead of lacing up ice-skates everyday, he’s adjusting spines for professional golfers like Tiger Woods as a traveling Physical Therapist for the PGA tour.
The Marquette native began his college career at Northern Michigan University but transferred to Grand Valley State University in 1992 to complete his Physical Therapy courses. Although the material didn’t come naturally, that only made him study harder. So much in fact that, after completing his undergraduate studies, he returned to Grand Valley to earn his Master of Science in physical therapy in 1998.
“Grand Valley gave me a solid foundation for my physical therapy skills to put me out in the real world and my experience became a spring board for things I’d never imagined,” he said. “Grand Valley has maintained its prestige as the best physical therapy school in the state.”
After graduating, Hendra got his feet wet working for a private practice. From there his career took off and just a year later he was overseeing three clinics as clinic director of Physiotherapy Associates. Despite his success, Hendra knew his knowledge had to stay current. While working for Physiotherapy Associates, he was also continuing his education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences where he received his manual therapy certification. All the hard work and studying paid off when he was asked to join the PGA as the tour’s physical therapist.
Today, Hendra travels 30 weeks out of the year to countries like Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. He and two other therapists work with the athletes to keep them in top condition. During his 14-hour days, he does spinal adjustments and deep tissue releases for PGA athletes such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Jim Furyk. His office is a 750 square foot travel trailer.
In addition to the work he does for the athletes on tour, Hendra also does between six to ten media interviews a year. He has shared his knowledge of physical fitness and health science in several magazine articles, radio spots, and television appearances.
For the remaining 12 weeks of the year, Hendra keeps himself in top condition by running, biking, and weightlifting. Inspired by his father’s work ethic, he encourages students to remain positive no matter what. “Think good thoughts and good things will come to you.”