You look at the resume and see all the years he has provided medical care for St. Louis’ premier NCAA Division III athletics department and the city’s National Hockey League and National Football League franchises and come to a conclusion.

That is, that Dr. Matthew Matava planned this from the start. Not exactly.

“I played college basketball while in medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and tore my ACL and, at the time, was going to go into general surgery,” Matava said. “But then I saw first-hand how important restoring function was. I now tell patients, ‘I don’t save lives. I save lifestyles.”

Thus began an award-winning – and rewarding – career in sports medicine, a body of work that has vaulted him into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which proudly inducted Dr. Matava with the Class of 2018.

A graduate of St. Charles High School, Dr. Matava has been one of St. Louis’ medical leaders in sports medicine, having served as the head team physician of the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams from 2001 to 2015. He also is the team physician of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues.

Since 1994, he has served as the head team physician for the athletics department at Washington University, where he also is a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at WashU’s School of Medicine and the Chief of the Sports Medicine service in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Put another way, Dr. Matava is a tremendous example for young athletes whose athletic careers will end either during or not long after high school.

You see, he was an all-conference basketball standout as well as a football and baseball player at St. Charles High School but only a walk-on at UMKC.

And yet look at some of the highlights of his professional career: the Rams during their “Greatest Show on Turf” days that included two Super Bowl trips as he treated Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace among others; and time with the Blues, treating standouts such as Grant Fuhr, Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger.

After earning his medical degree at UMKC in 1987, Dr. Matava served a residency in orthopedic surgery at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. He also completed a sports medicine fellowship at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center.

In Cincinnati, he found a mentor in Dr. Frank Noyes.

“I learned by example how to communicate with patients and how to be a diligent researcher and critical reviewer of medical literature. In addition, he showed me the importance of being attentive to detail as a surgeon,” Dr. Matava said. “I learned that patients judge a book by its cover in terms of relating the quality of the procedure with the appearance of their incisions. It’s a small but important point.”

The lessons proved extremely valuable as Dr. Matava’s career took on significant roles.

“It’s the old saying that a baseball manager can lose a clubhouse. Well, a doctor can lose a locker room, too,” Dr. Matava said.

Like many team physicians across the country, Dr. Matava experienced pushback after recommending a player miss practice or playing time.

But he handled it like a pro. Yes, he was a fan of the teams and wanted them to win. Yet …

“We’re taught that, as physicians, that these athletes are patients first and players second. You always have to keep that divide,” said Dr. Matava, who teamed with Dr. Rick Wright, a 2016 MSOF inductee, as the Rams’ team physicians.

It’s no wonder that Dr. Matava was asked to serve as president of the NFL Physicians Society and that the Rams medical staff was voted the No. 1 medical staff by NFL players in an anonymous survey in 2016.

That his career has achieved so much is a reflection of WashU, which had long been his goal to reach. When he arrived in 1994, it was on the cusp of a major expansion. It’s now one of the top 10 orthopedic surgery programs in the country and leads the nation in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

He also has long had the support of his wife, Michelle. They are parents to Sarah, Christian and Matthew.

“It’s been a step-by-step process and a lot of work. But it’s been worth it every step of the way,” Dr. Matava said of achieving dreams. “I’m fortunate to have a supportive wife, family and partners. Without support and encouragement, none of us can achieve anything.”