It’s no surprise that lifelong athlete, Dr. Mark J. Casertano could lead a team to victory despite the fact that many of the team’s players were novices. Having played football in high school and lacrosse in college, then winning body builder titles as an adult, Casertano has long known what it takes to develop a competitive edge. But when the Johns Creek chiropractor’s team won a championship earlier this year, the players were girls 13 and under giving their all to the sport of lacrosse.
Casertano, who grew up in New Jersey, moved to Atlanta in 1997 and earned his Doctor of Chiropractic at Life University. He is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP), Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) and a Diplomat in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP) with a thriving practice in Johns Creek. Yet nearly every evening and most weekends, it’s lacrosse that earns his full attention, and Casertano can be found on a local sports field coaching girls, including his daughter Arianna, and teaching life lessons.
Q: When did you start playing lacrosse?
A: I started freshman year at Sacred Heart University as a walk-on. I was actually recruited to play football at the University, but I soon decided that lacrosse was my passion.
Q: How did you end up coaching girl’s lacrosse?
A: A patient of mine who was the head coach at Milton High School initially got me into coaching, and I began coaching boy’s lacrosse in 2006. Four years ago, I was working with the Chattahoochee High School boy’s lacrosse team, and my daughter, who was 8 years old at the time, wanted to come to practice with me and help. Needless to say, I loved every minute with her, and she began to show an interest in playing the sport herself. Well, it didn’t take long to convince me. We went shopping for all of her gear that night.
I began coaching with the Eagle Stix Lacrosse program at the U-9 level and continued to U-13 until the fall of 2016. I’ll begin my second season with the Chattahoochee Jr. Cougar girl’s lacrosse program this fall.
Q: What is your team philosophy? What do you hope the girls get out of playing?
A: “Teamwork and trust” lead to success.
I take my position as head coach very seriously and am dedicated and passionate about making my team successful. The reason I coach is not only to have a successful player on the field but also to have a successful player off the field. I want the girls to consistently learn life lessons along the way, some being harder than others.
Q: How do you motivate a group of middle school girls and create a sense of unity when the age group is notorious for gossip and cliquishness?
A: I have to be honest, it’s one of the best life lessons I have learned myself in this process. I think the biggest thing to being a successful motivator as a coach is to gain the trust and respect of your players. To gain each player’s trust and respect, she should be treated on an individual basis giving the same trust and respect in return. We work hard together on the field, we make sacrifices together, and we play together with trust in each other.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as a coach?
A: I have had some very proud moments as a coach. The proudest was winning the U-13 Lacrosse Championship this past spring.
Q: Did your background in sports lead you to become a chiropractor?
A: Yes, I suffered an injury to my shoulder playing football in high school and was told to wear a sling for four to six weeks. My mother took me directly to our chiropractor, and she adjusted me. My shoulder started feeling better from that point, and in a few days, I was back on the field playing. The amazing capability of the body to heal is what sparked my interest in chiropractic.
When he doesn’t have a lacrosse stick in his hand, Casertano practices at Chiropractic and Sports Injury Specialists of North Fulton. DrCasertano.com