Alumni Spotlight: Gary Gordon, DPM

How would you like to describe your experience at TUSPM or what you know it as PCPM?

We were the last class out of PCPM that was at the other location at 8th & Pine. Then we moved to the new place. We had classes in that building and we had classes at the Greek church because our school wasn’t big enough. We graduated with 41 people, we had a fantastic class educational wise. Very involved in educational podiatry around the country.

What is your most memorable moment?

Graduating. My family and I were very proud. I never had intentions of even going into podiatry. I was a native of Philadelphia and I graduated Temple undergraduate. I first went to high school in Philadelphia and while at Temple I think I changed my idea of a major about five times. Then I decided I wanted to become a teacher, history teacher, sociology teacher and then I said I might as well do something I love. I love sports. So I am going to major in health, physical education and recreation. When I was in high school I played basketball, baseball, and golf. Then I got to Temple and by accident, there was a fraternity track meet and I did a long jump and I won and a friend of mine was on the track team and he told the coach. The coach said to come out for the team next year. I went out for the team and they got me involved with the long jump triple and then I did the 100, 200 and 400 and by my senior year, I earned an athletic scholarship from Temple. Then I taught at a high school in Philadelphia called Gratz High School and a friend of my fathers was a podiatrist. The year I was at the high school out of 40 gang killings, 20 were at that high school. My father’s friend was like why don’t you think about podiatry and I didn’t know too much about it so I spent time with him. I needed just organic chemistry so I took that in the summer and then I went to podiatry school.

My second year I was still very friendly with the trainers at Temple and I went back when I had time and they were teaching me the treatment of athletes. My third year I spent even more time training with them. At the end of my third year, I was introduced to the team doctor and I did a research project for him that summer. The project was to find out how much friction was caused by different type of shoes. Because of that study, significant changes were made with football and soccer cleats. It was really a groundbreaking study. Then my senior year he mentored me and he let me come down, he was the head of Orthopedics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for children, so I used to go down there and attend three of his clinics. Then I did my residency at the Maryland Residency Program and I selected them because they were the team doctors for the Professional Tennis teams at the time and also for the soccer team. They were also the doctor for the Baltimore Bullets before they moved to Washington and became the Washington Wizards. So I was trying to get more into sports medicine.

Then when I finished my residency, they were organizing the Temple University sports medicine center and it opened in February 1975. It was the first sports medicine center affiliated with a university in this country. At that time I was the podiatrist for the Temple University intercollegiate athletics. Then in 1975, I became the first podiatrist for the Philadelphia 76ers. Then in 1978, Penn opened their sports medicine center and I have been here ever since as the podiatrist for intercollegiate athletics. I went back to the podiatry school and I started the first course in sports medicine, it was still PCPM. Then I was the 8th president for the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. I was also the past president of the American Running and Fitness Association which is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes fitness. I am also the medical advisor for the Penn Relays from 1979 until now. They just had the rock and roll half marathon and I am one of 22 that has finished all 41 of the rock and roll marathons. I was the assistant golf coach for the men and women's golf team from 2008 until this past spring when I retired. I am very fortunate that I was able to combine my love with taking care of people with podiatry and doing my sports medicine and I don’t feel like I ever really worked because its been so much fun. I love working with positive people who are motivated to fulfill their goals of being healthy again whether they are 18 or 80.

Can you describe what it was like being the first appointed team podiatrist for the  76ers?

Exciting. I had to be at every game, I got there an hour before the game and I stayed an hour after the game in case there were any injuries. It was a big turn around at the time for 76ers because the year before they were 9-72 which was not fun. The coach at the time was Kevin Loughery then they hired a fellow from Baltimore Gene Shue became the coach and then they got this fellow name George McGinnis who was from the ABA at the time. That is when they were getting really combining. Then they drafted Doug Collins who was in the Olympics, and then they had Billy Cunningham and drafted Dr. J aka Julius Erving all time greatest basketball players ever. It was just a lot of fun.

What is your favorite part about being a podiatrist?

Helping people and letting them accomplish their goals. I do general podiatry and it is great when they walk in when they have some pain and you can make them feel better. Same thing with sports medicine and surgery. When they come in and they can’t do something that they love and you are able to let them get back and try to train again at 100% so they can train and try to accomplish what their goals are. There’s nothing more frustrating when you are an athlete and you can’t accomplish your goals because you’re injured so if you can get them to accomplish their goals, and they feel a great amount of satisfaction about themselves and they help their team, it makes you feel good.