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Path to PT

Taiwo Adeshigbin is a former Mizzou women’s soccer player and #MizzouMade Physical Therapist, currently working in Phoenix at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, where she was recently named physical therapist of the month. While some students have a linear journey through college, knowing what they want to pursue from the beginning and maintaining that path, many take a much more winding road to success. The latter is true for Adeshigbin, but the detours are ultimately what led her to success. 

Adeshigbin transferred to Mizzou from a two-year college in Atlanta, after being recruited for the Women’s Soccer team. During her time playing for Mizzou Soccer, she sustained injuries that didn’t end her soccer career, but caused her to spend many hours in physical therapy to get well enough to get back on the field.

These experiences in physical therapy caused her to contemplate a career in PT down the road, but being a pro soccer player was the much more immediate goal.

“I found myself reflecting on the many coaches I encountered growing up who would always tell me ‘You could make a good career playing soccer,’ so soccer after college was still in the back of my mind,” Adeshigbin says on her website.

Relieved to be finished with classwork at least temporarily, Adeshigbin gave pro soccer a shot after graduating with her Bachelor’s in Health Science, having taken some necessary prerequisite classes to keep the door open to pursue physical therapy in the future.

A few months after graduation, she received an offer to play professional soccer in Sweden. Unfortunately she sustained two hip injuries that kept her off the field and she wasn’t able to travel throughout Europe as she had hoped.

During all of this downtime, she had to reconsider if pro soccer could be sustainable. She observed a physical therapist, and knew that helping people rehab from sports injuries like those who had helped her in the past would be the perfect way to combine her passions.

Student Taiwo Adeshigbin standing in front of balloons that spell out Mizzou Soccer 2018 with head coach Bryan Blitz
Adeshigbin with Mizzou Soccer head coach Bryan Blitz

From Atlanta to Columbia to Sweden and back to Columbia again, Adeshigbin found herself in Mizzou’s PT program a year and a half after graduating with her Bachelor’s.

The PT program alone is demanding, but Adeshigbin completed it while also working more than 20 hours per week as a graduate assistant for Campus Activities. She credits having to balance soccer with her academic coursework in undergrad with giving her the ability to manage both responsibilities. 

“Playing college soccer takes a certain level of commitment and drive to be successful in your sport. It was tough, but I was driven. My ability to balance being a student-athlete and excelling academically really helped me manage the rigorous coursework in Physical Therapy.”

With the help of faculty, her PT classmates, and skills she learned while playing soccer, Adeshigbin successfully completed the PT program in May of 2018. 

“The faculty are what sets Mizzou’s PT program apart from other schools,” Adeshigbin said, “Everyone in the program goes above and beyond to help you. I spent hours in my professors’ offices asking questions and they were always willing to help.”

In addition to excellent clinical skills, Mizzou’s PT students are taught to be well-rounded therapists, who have compassion for their patients and their human needs as well. 

“It was preached especially from Dr. Briedwell, that you should give every patient your A game, because it goes a long way,” Adeshigbin said. 

Adeshigbin also enjoyed the opportunity to serve the community through the PT program’s pro bono clinic, PhysZOU. 

“I sincerely love people, and it’s a joy giving back to help others,” Adeshigbin said, “PhysZOU was just a phenomenal experience to provide treatment to the underserved population. To see the small improvements, like a patient being able to take a few steps or complete a sit-to-stand transition was awesome, and seeing the smile on their faces was even better.” 

Recently Adeshigbin returned to Columbia to speak at the Mizzou Women’s Soccer banquet. Her success after graduation serves as a good reminder to the current undergraduate soccer players that the skills they are learning now – determination, time management, intentionality, will serve them in their future if they learn to leverage them properly. 

“I am so grateful to the entire university for everything. I could not be where I’m at without every individual – janitors, professors, coaches, teammates – everyone,” Adeshigbin said. “Mizzou will always be home to me.”

Alex Ethridge