A lot of time and effort goes into maintaining the perennial athletic success of Venice High School.
What comes to mind right away are the players who put in the hours of training and workouts, the coaches who guide them along the way and the boosters and fans who put forth the money to make it all possible.
But what might get forgotten in the shuffle is how these athletes stay on the field when competing in their respective sport on a year-round basis.
For all of Venice High School and the four other high schools in Sarasota County, that’s made possible by the Daltons — Alan and Alicia — who own Agility Physical Therapy and maintain the Athletic Trainer contracts for Sarasota County Schools.
The couple has been in the business of physical therapy since 2002 when they opened their first business — Legacy Physical Therapy — in the area. Since then, the services they provide to the community has grown by leaps and bounds.
“I’m a relationships guy,” Alan said. “I love when the young athletes come in here and I love hearing their stories. I love talking to them about who they are, what they’re doing and what their plans are. That’s really what motivates me.”
Not only do the Daltons run a physical therapy and fitness business that services the area of Venice, but they also devote much of their time to the Indians athletes.
They’ve offered internships to dozens of Venice High students over the years and now even employ some former Indians.
Some of their employees who starred for Venice High include Autumn Duyn (volleyball), Kelly White (soccer/track/cross country) and Tori Bolyard (soccer). Current interns include Connor Flynn (basketball), Mason Schilling (soccer and track) and two of their daughters, Rachel and Catherine Dalton, who are both soccer players.
And of course, they try to make it to every Venice girls soccer game, as four of their daughters have played for the Lady Indians, with a fifth coming up through the ranks.
“They’ve been such a big part of not only our soccer team, but the community itself,” said Venice girls soccer coach Gary Bolyard. “He’s always there if something is wrong with one of my players to take a look and give his recommendation. If someone gets hurt at practice, we send them over to Alan. He’s been such a great help to the program.”
Whether it be in their own facilities or through employee Steve Bennett — the athletic trainer at VHS — any athlete who deals with an injury is helped back to the field by the Daltons, if they know it or not.
Bennett’s responsibilities include injury prevention, on-field assessment — he’s present at nearly all Indians home athletic events — ensuring there is proper hydration and that the teams are following FHSAA guidelines.
“These kids all have a dream,” Bennett said. “They all want to go to college and play ball there and go to the NFL. I get to play a little part in making sure they stay on that track. A lot of them from here do succeed and it feels good to know I played a part in making sure that happens.
Alan manages the business and is hands-on with several of his patients and Alicia teaches morning fitness classes that include plyometrics, cardio and strength training.
The injuries they deal with range from the common ones such as sprained ankles or shoulders and go into the more serious realm of ACL repair.
As research in medicine has progressed over the years, they’ve also added on to their concussion protocols for local high schools, which uses baseline computerized testing. When athletes are suspected to have a concussion, they retake the test and see how their mental awareness, reaction time and memory matches up to their original results.
They’ve dealt with all ages and types of athletes from the weekend golfer to the Division-I or even professional athletes.
For the Daltons, the most satisfying part of their job is seeing athletes of all skill levels get back to pursuing their passions. It’s both a physical and mental process of rehabilitation, they said, and it’s what has kept them going 17 years into the business of physical therapy.
“It’s rewarding,” Alan said. “That’s probably what makes my job so fun is the relationships we build and seeing people get back to do what they love to do.
“Whether it’s an elderly person who just wants to go play golf or tennis or our high-level athletes who want to get back to the field, it’s remarkably rewarding to see the smile on their face when you say, ‘Go give it a shot and see what happens.’”