You are here

SMU ALUMS - Where Are They Now?

Samuel Merritt University is a health sciences institution that has excelled in educating and preparing our graduates for success. The University is proud that many of our alumni have been publicly recognized locally and throughout the nation for their outstanding accomplishments in healthcare fields. The following profiles highlight former students who have found their work and experience at SMU gave them the skills to succeed.

Kelly Starrett, DPT

Kelly Starrett, DPT, is passionate about physical therapy (PT) and says it's the key to physical wellness. This summer the 2007 alum and CrossFit owner and fitness expert kept his eye on two-time Olympic Gold medalist and fivetime U.S. National Row Team member, Erin Cafaro, as she competed in the 2012 London Olympics.  Since Dr. Starrett, or 'Coach' as some call him, opened CrossFit athletic training center, Kelly has become a coaching resource for reigning Olympians, national and world champions, tri-athletes, runners, and recreational athletes. His professional training as a strength coach and a doctor of physical therapy helps extreme skiers, X-Games medalists, dancers, military personnel, and competitive age-division athletes re-examine their physical capacities for reaching higher performance levels through a progressive blend of physical therapy and strength training techniques developed by Starrett.

"Kelly Starrett, DPTI focus on performance-based orthopedic sports medicine with an emphasis on advancing athletes to elite level sport performance. I work with several coaches a year to help them train people to identify problem areas and interventions for enabling the athlete to improve range of motion or movement dysfunction."

Since 2009, Kelly has been traveling the country teaching a course on Movement, Mobility and Maintenance to spread his message that good mobility and proper movement are the keys to good athletic performance and staying healthy. "What people need is movement training and coaching, and what we teach is that you need to have a range of motion, eat healthy and express motor control."

Kelly believes that a physical therapist should be at the entry point of fitness and wellness for the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. Physical therapists treat a wide variety of injuries involving all joints of the body and facilitate orthopedic post-surgical rehabilitation. He advises that the way to prevent injuries is to teach people how to move correctly.

"The majority of people who start a new (therapeutic) program have had a previous existing condition. PTs are best at guiding patients to prevent dysfunction and help people understand good movement and mechanics."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity and 16 percent are not active at all. "When people tell me that they want to become a coach, I tell them you should go to physical therapy school. What you learn in school is how to move correctly and how to teach it correctly, such as stabilizing the spine or self-treatment."

He credits faculty mentors from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Samuel Merritt University. "I studied with great physical therapists: Drs. Jewell, Nordstrom, Widener, and Gorman," says Starrett.

Kelly continues to coach for the Marin Rowing Association high school program where he helped lead the varsity girls, including Olympian Erin Cafaro, to a national title in 2008. He also trains kayaker Brad Ludden and pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer.