He grew up on a family farm near Billings in southwest Missouri, eventually headed off to St. Louis University to become a doctor and found his way back close to home, in Springfield.

For Dr. Bernard Griesemer, the field of sports medicine grabbed him by the stethoscope in 1980. That’s when Dr. Lee Vensel left for the military and sent him his teen patients – many of them local athletes.

“For my patients, at that time, it was sports-related health concerns,” Dr. Griesemer said.

Sports medicine eventually expanded greatly across the country, and he became a success story. Which is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Dr. Griesemer with the Class of 2020.

In 1995, he completed sports medicine certification from the American Board of Pediatrics – he holds certification number 0022, as the first to hold the certification from southwest Missouri – and maintained it for 20 years.

That year, he joined Dr. Jim Sammons and other colleagues with then-St. John’s Hospital in starting the HealthTracks Center.  The center continues to combine youth sports training programs with primary care, and sports injury evaluation and rehabilitation.

Along the way, Dr. Griesemer has served as the Team Physician for high schools (Hillcrest and Springfield Catholic), and headed the Greene County Medical Society’s Sports Medicine Committee that organized the old “high school gym physicals.” He also provided medical coverage for local, regional and national sporting events, and was part of the medical team covering the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. Additionally, he assists the athletic training program at Missouri State University as clinical faculty.

“Early in my career, primary care sports medicine was literally in its infancy,” Dr. Griesemer said, noting Ohio’s Dr. Thomas Schaeffer established the grounds for research and development in pediatric sports medicine. “We were managing musculoskeletal injuries in young athletes pretty well back then, but the management of concussions, heat-related injuries and cardiac catastrophes were really just beginning and varied widely from region to region.”

His efforts gained support with the arrival of Dr. Richard Seagrave (MSHOF 2013), a team physician for Missouri State University.

He found inspiration from Dr. William Garrick at a national sports medicine meeting, where Dr. Garrick implored doctors that, “Yes, you can do this.” Eventually, Dr. Griesemer joined the newly launched American Medical Society for Sports Medicine as a charter member.

Success continued, as the Olympics sought his expertise.

For the Sydney Olympics, he was appointed to the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission as a medical commission representative for the doping control program

He had met Dr. Wade Exum, director of the United States Anti-Doping program for the United States Olympic Committee and whose wife was from Nixa. In 1991, Dr. Griesemer joined the U.S. Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Program.

He was then selected as a Lead Doping Control Officer for the Atlanta Olympics, which led to several assignments with Dr. Yoshio Kuroda, the International Olympic Committee’s medical commissioner in Japan.

From this experience in Atlanta, Dr. Griesemer was recruited for the Nagano Olympics and – thanks to working with Australian doctors at the Atlanta and Nagano Olympics – he was appointed to the IOC’s Medical Commission as a medical commission representative for the 2000 Sydney Games.

In addition to his work with the Olympics, Dr. Griesemer’s career has also included work in academics and child advocacy.

He served on the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy Pediatrics Board of Directors (1998-1999) and as chapter president (1997-1999). He also was appointed to the Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness by the AAP Board of Directors (1994-2000).

Additionally, he was the lead author of the original technical/clinical report “Injuries in Youth Soccer” and was elected to the executive committee of the Section of Sports Medicine (2000-2005).

Dr. Griesemer is the associate editor of the textbook Pediatric Sports Medicine for Primary Care and has authored two other books.

In 2011, he was awarded the Thomas Schaeffer Award, the AAP’s highest national award which recognizes lifelong contributions the sports medicine field.

Dr. Griesemer thanks his wife, Regina, and children Rachel and Mark for their support as he lived his dream.

“My career has allowed me to interact with all athletes from the elementary level all the way up to professional and Olympic athletes,” Dr. Griesemer said. “In my own practice, I have had my patients actually progress from those elementary sports to professional baseball, football, basketball and to international Olympic competition. That has been the fun and extremely rewarding part of my career.”