Dr. Terry Schroeder is the USA’s only four time Olympian in the sport of water polo. He was a member of Team USA during the Olympic boycott in 1980. After the boycott, Terry re-focused and dedicated himself to pursuing his Olympic dream. In 1981, he was named the team captain. His leadership helped the team to consecutive silver medals in 1984 and 1988. At the Closing Ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, he was selected to carry the American flag for USA delegation.
After a brief two-year retirement, Schroeder decided to return to the pool in 1990 to train for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He had an immediate impact and Team USA won the World Cup for the first time ever in 1991. Team USA finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
In 1981 and 1985, Schroeder was named the best water polo player in the world. He was also selected as the model for the Olympic torso statue, which stands to this day at the entrance of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Since retiring from the sport in 1992 as an athlete, Schroeder has established himself as a world class coach. In 2007, Terry was chosen Head Coach of the USA Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team. At that time, Team USA team was ranked 9th in the world and in a state of disarray as the team had gone through three coaches in three years.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the USA Men’s Water Polo squad became one of the amazing stories of the Games. The USA squad made a remarkable run in Beijing with upset victories over Italy, Croatia, Germany and Serbia to forge their way into the championship game. Team USA fell to Hungary 14-10 in the gold medal game, but gained international recognition in returning to the podium for the first time in 20 years.
As an inspirational and motivational speaker, Dr. Schroeder is in demand to make personal appearances to talk about life lessons he has learned as a world-class athlete and an Olympic Coach. Schroeder has authored chapters in two books—The Spine in Sports by Robert Watkins, M.D., and Awaken the Olympian Within by Olympic swimmer John Naber.
Dr. Terry Schroeder is a third generation chiropractor. A native of Santa Barbara, California, Schroeder is a 1981 Magna Cum Laude Sports Medicine graduate of Pepperdine University and a 1986 Cum Laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. Schroeder has been married to his wife Lori, also a chiropractor, for 22 years. They own and operate Schroeder Center for Healthy Living in Westlake Village, California. The Schroeder’s have two children, Leanna (10/14/94) and Sheridan (8/10/01).Each adjustment that I give is the most important adjustment of the day.[/pullquote]
TAC: What inspired you to become a chiropractor? Do you have a specific story?
SCHROEDER: My Dad was a chiropractor and he delivered all three of his children. Chiropractic was a way of life in our family. There were no meds in the bathroom cabinets. When we were sick, we knew we needed to be adjusted. My inspiration to become a chiropractor really came from watching my Dad at his office (which was in our home). My brother Lance and I would sit in our living room (also Dad’s waiting room) and watch as patients came in, many times in such pain that they had to be helped into the office. After spending 15 minutes or so with my Dad behind a closed door, they would often times come out of the room laughing and joking with my Dad. We were amazed and convinced that my Dad was some kind of miracle man. I made the decision early that I wanted to become a chiropractor and help others like my Dad did. My brother, Lance, and sister, Tammy, also became chiropractors.
TAC: How has your experience as a chiropractor impacted your coaching?
SCHROEDER: I have learned some great lessons as a chiropractor that I have been able to carry over to my coaching. First of all, I have learned to be in the moment. Each adjustment that I give is the most important adjustment of the day. I try to carry that with me with all that I do. When I am on the pool deck coaching, I need to be there in the moment 100% with my athletes. This has helped me to be more focused. I have also learned the art of being patient. Just as each patient responds differently to my treatment in the office, each athlete may respond or learn a little differently too. Knowing this, I have managed to be able to stay cool in the heat of the battle in workout or even in a game. There is no doubt that my experience in the office has also helped me to become more caring and compassionate. These are qualities that are necessary to be a successful coach. Finally, I have learned to appreciate how valuable our health is and this has helped me to keep coaching (even at the Olympic level) in the proper perspective.
TAC: What are your specialties and can you tell us some more about them?
SCHROEDER: My wife Lori and I share a family practice in Westlake Village, CA. We treat young and old, athletes and couch potatoes and I enjoy treating them all. I do not have my CCSP or any other specialty degrees. I have focused on being the best adjuster I can be. As I said before, each adjustment of the day is the most important one at that time. When I practice this way and keep love in my heart for each patient, we see miracles every day in our office. Chiropractic is an amazing profession where we get positive feedback almost all day long. I love helping people become healthier. We have Pilates, massage and some therapies (EMS and US), but our office is all about the chiropractic care. My wife and I both feel incredibly blessed to be in this profession.
We are in the hunt to win another medal and, this time, we are focused on winning the gold.
TAC: How do you see the chances of the U.S. in the upcoming Olympics?
SCHROEDER: We are in the hunt to win another medal and, this time, we are focused on winning the gold. There are 10 teams in the world that are all pretty close to each other. We are in the middle of that pack. Currently, we are ranked fourth, which is where we have placed in the 2009 World Championships and the 2010 World Cup. In the Olympic year, it is all about which team comes together the most and plays at their peak for the 2 week period during the Games. I like our team. We are composed of primarily veteran players with as many as 9 returning Olympians from 2008 and then we will fill the roster with some young players that will bring some positive energy to the mix. We have good leadership and we have some of the best players in the world at the key positions, which is necessary to win a tournament like the Olympic Games.
TAC: Do you have any mentor in chiropractic that helped you along?
SCHROEDER: My Dad was my mentor for many years. He was my hero. Unfortunately, he passed away 4 years ago. But he left me with a passion for this great profession and a desire to be the best that I can be.
TAC: We heard that you have a pretty big chiropractic family. Can you tell our readers about that?
SCHROEDER: My Dad’s dad is the first of our family tree. I am proud to be a third generation chiropractor. We now have 68 chiropractors in our family. It is pretty awesome when a group of us get together.
TAC: Which techniques do you use and why?
SCHROEDER: I use a diversified technique that I learned at Palmer and which was refined by my father and years of practice. I also use a Leander table in our practice for flexion/distraction. Occasionally, I will use an activator and some soft tissue work (Trigger point or ART). We do utilize therapies in our office on approximately 50% of our patients. We have roller beds, EMS and US that we commonly will use after the patient is adjusted to allow the patient to relax before they run out into the busy world. I use these techniques because I have found that I get good results with them. I will continue to refine my practice as I grow and learn from my patients and other doctors.
TAC: What type(s) of diagnostic testing procedures do you use and why?
SCHROEDER: I use X-rays and MRI’s when I feel like it is necessary for diagnostic reasons in our practice. I am not afraid to refer out, if someone is not responding to my care or if upon my initial exam and evaluation I feel that I may not be the right doctor for the patient.
TAC: Do you have any “amazing” athlete recovery story?
SCHROEDER: I feel like chiropractic care helped me to become the only four time American Olympian in the sport of water polo. I was badly injured in a car accident in 1987 and doctors wanted to perform surgery on my right shoulder. With some amazing chiropractic care, I recovered fully without surgery and was able to play in two more Olympic Games after that (1988, 1992). Besides that, I see the miracle of chiropractic every day in our office with young athletes that tell me how much they improved on their time or how well they felt after an adjustment. On our 2008 team, only a few of the team members were receiving regular chiropractic care prior to my being selected as the head coach. By the time the Olympic Games came around, each one of the athletes was getting good care and I feel strongly that this was one of the key factors in our team’s staying healthy and winning a silver medal after being ranked 9th in the world heading into the Games. There is such a small margin between winning and losing at the Olympic Games and each one of our athletes came to realize the ability of chiropractic to fine tune the body and help them reach their athletic potential.
Chiropractic is simply helping our bodies to help themselves.
TAC: Can you tell us about your clinic?
SCHROEDER: Our office is about 7,000 square feet. We are located in Westlake Village, California, where we have practiced for the past 24 years. We have five chiropractors that share space and a physical therapist that also shares space. We have a Pilates studio and two massage rooms. I enjoy the team atmosphere that we have in our office. We all get along well and we feel like our staff is family. It does not feel like work when you come into the office. There is a nice calm healing environment.
TAC: Any final words for our readers?
SCHROEDER: Chiropractic is simply helping our bodies to help themselves. I get so excited when I get to introduce a new patient (who has never seen a chiropractor) to our great profession. I consider it an honor and I see it as an opportunity to change that patient’s life for the better. I hope none of us ever takes what we do for granted. It is truly a gift.