Growing up as the son of a coach and participating in athletics combined with an interest in the health and medical field led Ryan into athletic training. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Athletic Training and Health Promotion at South Dakota State University followed by a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Northern Colorado, he also became a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
Ryan provides outreach to schools in Iowa and Minnesota as well as being the head athletic trainer for the Sioux Falls Storm for almost two decades. He also loves the diversity of being an athletic trainer in a clinical setting as well as working closely with the physicians at Orthopedic Institute.
Outside of his time at Orthopedic Institute, he loves hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family.
Aaron Conklin, ATC
His entire life, Aaron had wanted a job in a field where he could work with an athletic population and be able to help people as much as possible. Which is why, after he graduated with a Bachelor of Science from South Dakota State University, he pursued a career in athletic training and has continued that career to this day.
Aaron works with athletes ranging from high schoolers to minor league teams. For him, the best thing about working in the field is seeing the athletes he works with recover from injury and regain their full strength and well-being, no matter what the activity may be. Outside of athletic training, he likes to spend whatever time he can outdoors, including golfing, hunting, and biking.
Megan Ekern, MS, ATC
“Helping people and sports are two interests that fuel Megan’s passion for athletic training. Her favorite part about the athletic training profession is building relationships with athletes, coaches, and other medical professionals that allow a teamwork mentality when dealing with injuries. This inspired her to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and also, a master’s degree from South Dakota State University in Exercise Science.
Megan works with Lennox and Centerville High Schools providing outreach care to their student-athletes. She is excited to join the OI team and be able to provide patient-based care. When she is not in the clinic or at her schools, she enjoys staying active, crafting, and spending time with her family.”
Gina Fritz, MS, ATC
When Gina was younger, she had an injury that required her to perform physical therapy and rehab at the Orthopedic Institute. “I was here at 6 a.m. almost every morning trying to recover,” said Gina. Fast forward over a decade, after completing her degree in Athletic Training from South Dakota State University and working on finishing up her master’s thesis, she is now an athletic trainer working for the doctor that helped her recover so many years ago.
Gina is the full-time athletic trainer at Madison Central High School. She works with both high school and middle school athletes in a variety of sports including, football, volleyball, cross country, tennis, golf, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and track. Her time at schools helped her realize that being an athletic trainer is not limited to treating just the physical injuries of students. Often, trainers are there to be a listening ear and guide athletes through situations that may be mentally tough. “The relationships athletic trainers build with student-athletes are ones that last a lifetime,” Gina said.
Chad Grotewold, MA, ATC, CSCS
Chad received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Dakota, he continued his education and obtained certifications in athletic training and strength and conditioning. After graduation, he was excited to start his career at Orthopedic Institute. “They are the leaders in sports medicine and have outstanding physicians that care for the well-being of patients from start to finish,” said Chad, “I was excited to start my career at OI!”
Chad does outreach to multiple high schools in Iowa in addition to working with patients and athletes in the clinic. “I love being a part of helping them rehabilitate from injuries and return to activities,” Chad said. In the summer, Chad also helps run OI’s strength and conditioning programs. Though he dedicates a majority of his time to being the best athletic trainer possible, he also enjoys hunting and spending time with his family and friends.
Chad Morrison, MS, ATC, CSCS
Athletic training has been a great way to combine two of Chad’s greatest passions—staying active and helping others. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern State University in Human Performance and Fitness and his master’s degree from South Dakota State University in Sports Medicine.
Working for Orthopedic Institute, he enjoys the variety that comes with his work. The clinic setting along with covering practices and games at the high school provides that variety. He works with West Central and Baltic high schools as well as running the Sports Performance Enhancement program at West Central for high school and middle school-aged athletes in the summer.
Darred Nelson, MS, ATC
Darred graduated with a Bachelor of Science from South Dakota State University and a Master of Science in Physical Ed from NW Missouri State University. He enjoys athletics and was intrigued by athletic injuries and recovery. He joined Orthopedic Institute because of the outstanding reputation of the doctors and sports medicine program. He works with Lennox and Centerville High Schools. Darred likes working with patients to help them return to activities that they enjoy and being a part of a cohesive team providing services at OI.
Outside of work, he co-leads the youth group at his church, spends time with family and friends, and stays active with exercise.
Brad Pfeifle, VP, MS, ATC – VP of Sports Medicine & Rehab Services
Brad was introduced to athletic training after he was injured in college, which filled an interest in his passion for athletics, medicine, and how the body worked. Once he was introduced to the profession, he was blessed with great role models and mentors that helped him graduated with both an bachelor’s and master’s degree from South Dakota State University.
Brad was introduced to a number of the physicians early in his career when he was the Head Athletic Trainer at Augustana College. From there, he built relationships with them and valued the level of expertise they had. He always wanted to work with them and for them. When the opportunity was offered to him, he didn’t look back and is now fortunate enough to work with coaches, parents, and athletes from the entire region.
John Shape, ATC
John has always been around sports growing up, which inspired him to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from South Dakota State University. His passion for the Athletic Training profession came at an early age when the ATCs from Orthopedic Institute helped him and his fellow athletes recover from injuries in both Middle and High School. He also enjoys being around sports and helping athletes because of his coaches who encouraged his love for sports.
John’s favorite part of his job is helping athletes return to participation at the same competition level, if not higher than before. Another highlight of being an Athletic Trainer is having the ability to push athletes and help them to perform to their highest ability.
Outside of work, he loves spending time outdoors and being with his wife, family, and friends.
Cody Weingartz, MS, ATC
Sports and fitness have always been a big part of Cody’s life. Once he found a profession where he could combine helping others achieve their goals and get to watch athletes compete, he knew athletic training was for him. He received his bachelor’s degree in Applied Science at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and his master’s degree in Athletic Training from South Dakota State University.
After working as an intern for Orthopedic Institute covering the Sioux Falls Canaries, he was hired full-time. He still covers the Canaries games, as well as events for high schools in the area and working in the main clinic helping patients with brace fitting and home exercise plans. Cody loves the variety his job has to offer—no day is ever the same and it keeps things interesting, to say the least.
Outside of work, Cody likes to play a variety of sports, lift weights, and spend time with friends and family.
Jordan Whitsell, MS, LAT, ATC
My entire athletic career began with watching the Sioux Falls Stampede. I was introduced to athletic training after being injured in college, it filled an opportunity to combine athletics and medicine. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Northwestern College (IA) and continued my education at A.T. Still University receiving a master’s degree in Kinesiology with a focus in Sports Psychology.
Once introduced to the profession, I was blessed with many great role models and mentors from around the United States who encouraged learning and drove me to advance in the profession. My passion for athletics and medicine began to increase my interest in injury prevention and biomechanics. I began working at the high school level, increasing to the club level, until I was given an incredible opportunity to work with the NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey team at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Shortly after, Orthopedic Institute and the Sioux Falls Stampede allowed a chance to come full-circle in my career with the additional benefit of returning home. I’m honored and excited to work with two outstanding groups.
When not at work, you will find me outside golfing, playing beach volleyball, hiking, fishing, or hunting.