February 25, 2020
After a record setting season of injuries, management of the New York Yankees knew they had to take a different approach when it comes to strength and conditioning for their players.
So, they turned to UNE graduate Eric Cressey (Exercise Science/Sports and Fitness Management, ’03).
“It's an honor and a challenge,” Cressey commented. “It's all still very new at this point, so we're still sorting things out. But so far, it's actually been a lot of fun.”
Cressey is the Yankees’ new director of health and performance.
Besides his new duties with one of the most storied franchises in sports history, Cressey continues to run the business he founded, Cressey Sports Performance. He now spends his days traveling between the business’s two facilities in Hudson, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the Yankees spring training facility in Tampa, Florida.
“I've already made some trips to Tampa, and I have a couple more coming up before spring training breaks,” he explained. “I'll be at Fenway Park when the Yankees play the Red Sox this season, and I have a bunch of trips to New York planned, so I’ll be involved with the team on a regular basis.”
Cressey is no stranger when it comes to working with major league baseball players.
“I was involved with the Minnesota Twins the past two years in a more limited capacity,” he said. “Baseball players are definitely our core competency, probably 80% of our clientele.”
The biggest challenge for Cressey will be helping to keep the Yankees’ players healthy this year.
“The number one rule of training is do no harm; do not injure players in the training process,” he said. “But at the same time, good training doesn't just reduce the risk of injury; it also optimizes movement efficiency and inherently enhances performance. I like to meet players where they are, learn about how they move, learn their training and injury history, then pull together an individualized plan that best sets them up for success.”
Cressey says his time at UNE has had a major impact on his career success.
“Being the only medical school in Maine, UNE provided me a lot of interactions with people on the clinical side of things,” he stated. “I had classes with athletic training majors, physical therapy majors, and occupational therapy majors. That gave rise to a lot of conversations that were clinically oriented, the language that doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers speak. That was incredibly impactful.”
Cressey grew up in Kennebunk, where his mother, Susan, is the principal of the town’s high school. Living for years in Red Sox nation, you would think going to work for the Red Sox’s bitter rival would be tough. Cressy says that is not the case.
“After the last 12 to 15 years of working with guys from all different organizations, I became more of a fan of baseball in general and a fan of baseball players,” he said. “I have a 95-year-old great-aunt and a 96-year-old grandmother who watch the Red Sox religiously every game. They’re gradually shifting their allegiance on my behalf.”