When Sebastien Poirier was a young boy, he dreamt of playing ball in the NBA. As he grew older, he realized he didn't have the skills to compete, but still loved the game enough to pursue his dream in a different way.
“I loved basketball, I loved helping people and I appreciated the work of health professionals so I pursued a career in athletic training,” say Poirier, who graduated in 2012 from UMass Lowell with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). “But I knew that in order to increase my chances of making it to the highest level in sports, physical therapy had to be the route.”
While he was a student, Poirier gained real-world experience at Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine where he landed a job after graduation as a physical therapist and personal trainer. He also worked as an assistant athletic trainer for the NBA D-League’s Springfield Armor.
Then Poirier landed his dream job as the new head trainer for the Tulsa 66ers – the NBA development team for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“When I received word that I got the job, I was speechless,” he says. “I was overwhelmed with excitement but also understood how fortunate I was. I told myself from the beginning that I would do whatever it took to make the most of this great opportunity.”
Poirier is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the health and wellness of Tulsa players through analysis, treatment, recovery and medical operations. He credits his UMass Lowell education for giving him the skills he needs to excel.
“The education and the skill set I received at UMass Lowell helped me get the head trainer position for the Tulsa 66ers,” says Poirier. “Having a doctorate degree in physical therapy and a bachelor’s degree in athletic training is very powerful, but it’s important to have other skills and attributes to be a well-rounded professional—UMass Lowell did this for me.”
Poirier learned about the University’s DPT program from friend and recent DPT graduate, Tim DiFrancesco after graduating from Salem State University with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training.
He says: “My experience at UMass Lowell was great. It was certainly a challenging three years due to the nature of the program but I believe it brought out the best in me.”
Poirier had a specific goal in mind of working in basketball and sports medicine so he was able to make the most out of his clinical experiences.
“I had clinical opportunities in acute care, sub-acute rehabilitation and orthopedics, which not only gave me the chance to improve upon my evaluation and manual skills but also to become a more well-rounded individual.”
Poirier says he’ll always remember advice from his professors and clinical instructors: “I learned that whether you’re a student, a recent graduate or a 20-year professional, it’s important to strive for continued knowledge and improvement, especially in a field that is as progressive as physical therapy."