How did your interest in sports and medicine begin?
When asked to give my life’s story, I always go back to 1970. We were homeless for awhile back then. My dad had invented a product, and we drove around Arkansas to find someone that would help him with his small business loan. He got the business started, and six years later, my mom and dad were having lunch with President Gerald Ford because they honored my dad as Small Businessman of the Year. I consider it humble beginnings, but it taught us to strive and work hard. After being an athlete in high school, I thought I’d make it to the NFL. Then after running into some orthopedic surgeons, my college athletic career ended abruptly. From there, I knew I wanted to go to medical school.
Do you have a favorite athlete you have worked with?
I always feel the same pride about an all-pro in the NFL that we fixed as I do about the kid who wants to play recreational golf here in Sioux Falls. There is a sense of accomplishment when you can get people back to the level they want. That’s why I think the research at Sanford and the commitment to preventing injury is so important. I love the athletes, I love being on the sidelines. I have to be careful not to get penalties during games because I get really emotionally involved with my teams. But the emotional connection I have with the athletes is what is really fulfilling.
You play golf, but there’s another sport you consider your favorite.
If you want to call bow hunting a sport, that would certainly be my favorite sport. It’s actually more of a lifestyle or a passion. Some people say it’s an obsession. When I travel to Africa on a hunting expedition, we take all of that protein and distribute it among hungry villages. It’s the adventure that’s really fun. I go to the same place in Africa every time I go, five times now. And, there’s something special about the end of the day, when the day sounds stop, about 15 minutes before the night sounds start and you are by yourself. That’s just a perfect peace. I do more of my self-talk while I am bow hunting; about being better, being a good dad, being a good husband. My family is always happy for me to go. They say it’s because I am so much better when I get back.
What is your philosophy of care?
People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you can establish a relationship with the patient through humor or through edification, then you have a foundation. You make that connection first, and then you add the technical ability, the intellectual capacity to diagnose and apply proper treatment. I tell many of my athletes my long-term philosophy on the front end is hate me now and love me later, because I am going to be hard. We are going to push and really be aggressive about your treatment. You might not like that at first, but when you are well, you will. My main priority is to take care of the people, serve the schools, serve the teams and have an empathetic ear to the coach, the team and the athlete. The commitment to sports medicine at Sanford is so great that all I have to do is be a good doctor.
To learn more about Dr. Reeves, visit www.sanfordhealth.org/physicianfinder.