The night that he received the call, Jody Moore hardly slept a wink.
He didn’t complain. Moore figured one sleepless night was worth the cost of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Moore, a Waco native who graduated from Midway High School and Baylor University, will leave for Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday as part of the medical staff for the U.S. Olympic Team.
It’s been his dream for more than a decade, perhaps even dating back to his high school days. When that dream was realized back in January with a simple call to his cell phone, it almost seemed too good to be true.
“It’s funny, I was actually driving, so I couldn’t (pinch myself),” Moore said. “It took a little while for the realization to settle in. Just realizing that goal to fruition was kind of surreal. But, yeah, I didn’t really sleep well that night.”
Moore played freshman football at Midway for a year, but he said it wasn’t the right fit for him. Later that year, Midway’s softball coach Sherry Rogers asked him if he might be interested in becoming a student trainer for the softball program.
The question piqued Moore’s interest. He met with then-football coach Kent Bachtel and head trainer Chris Hargrove, and before long he had discovered a new passion.
“I liked the fact that I could help serve injured athletes,” Moore said. “I was really interested in learning about the human body and the different techniques used to help heal and how to apply them, how to help athletes get the most out of their abilities.”
Midway proved to be the on-ramp of Moore’s journey. After graduating high school in 2001, he moved on to Baylor to further his sports medicine education. He also picked up a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska, and served a two-year training fellowship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
That earlier experience working with Team USA helped open the door for this summer’s golden opportunity.
“I was able to work with the U.S. wrestling teams, both the freestyle and the Greco-Roman wrestlers, as well as the weightlifters and other athletes,” Moore recalled. “It really helped me make some connections. … I’ve done about 10 trips with USA Track and Field, and I knew the Olympic medical director Bill Moreau. We re-connected at the Pan-Am Games, and then in January is when he called to ask me to join the medical staff.”
His life has moved at fast-forward ever since. It turns out that it requires a bit of planning for an international trip that will take you away from home for a month. Moore has endured all the proper immunizations and paperwork needed to travel to Rio. All the while, he has continued working his normal job at Waco’s Southwest Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics.
One of his primary duties is acting as a liaison to area high school football coaches and school districts, offering evaluation and help to the schools’ own training staffs. With high school football practice set to begin at many schools next Monday, Moore has been forced to plan ahead and delegate some duties, since he’ll be out of the country until late August.
Fortunately for Moore, his employers have been supportive.
“They were really excited for me, and they’ve been very gracious in allowing me to take the time to pursue my goals,” Moore said.
In Rio, Moore will be stationed to one of Team USA’s high performance training centers, housed at a Brazilian naval school. He’ll work with some of the American athletes in track and field, water polo, men’s and women’s volleyball and sailing, among other sports.
Ever since he first learned of his upcoming Olympic journey, Moore has been peppered with one question above all the rest.
Are you going to get to watch the Games?
“Honestly, this is my first Olympic Games, and they’re not flying me there to be a tourist,” Moore said. “If it works out that I’m able to see some of the competitions, great, but I’m there to help the team and to serve.”
No worries. Working with athletes — whether it’s something as simple as taping an ankle or as complex as assisting with a surgery — is what drives Moore. Ever since that first gig with the Midway softball team as a high school freshman, sports medicine has served as the right medicine for Moore.
Being able to do it at the Olympics? That’s like an astronaut getting assigned the first manned Mars mission. “It’s a big honor,” he said. “The U.S. contingent is made up of about 800 athletes, and we’ve got about 100 medical professionals from different professions as part of the team. It’s the best of the best not only athlete-wise, but also with the medical staff.
“It’s a great, great opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to getting going.”