Kevin Henry, Managing Editor
Barry Sanders, Ricky Williams, and Jim Brown all left the National Football League in the prime of their respective careers. While Dr. Ryan Moore may be not as well-known as the three running backs, he also left his professional sports career while at the top of his game — and he did it to become a dentist.
Dr. Moore was a starting defender for Major League Soccer's Tampa Bay Mutiny when he decided to follow his lifelong dream and his family profession of dentistry. Dr. Moore said it was one of the hardest decisions of his life.
"Soccer was going very well for me and I was at the beginning of the peak of my career, but I also knew that everything was very uncertain in professional soccer," said Dr. Moore, who was known as "R.T." on the pitch and scored three goals from his defender position during his final year with the Mutiny. "What if I got hurt? What if I was traded? What if I was cut from the team? Knowing any of those things could happen and knowing that my scores for dental school acceptance were only going to be good for a certain amount of time, I decided to give up the MLS. Dentistry was always in the back of my mind, and I decided it was time to move ahead with my career."
The news came as quite a shock to his coaches and teammates.
"Other guys on the team couldn't fathom that I.was giving up a starting position in the MLS," Dr. Moore said. "They just couldn't understand how someone could walk away from something that so many people dream about doing for a living."
Putting his professional soccer career behind him, Dr. Moore enrolled at Southern Illinois University, School of Dental Medicine. He left SIU in 2003 with his DMD degree and also something even more important — his wife, Dr. Lindsay (Fecht) Moore.
"She was one of the first girls that I saw when I went to my first class. We started talking and hanging out and became very good friends," he said of his future wife.
But did he have to mention he was a professional athlete before coming to SIU to get her attention?
"No, the guy who sat next to me told me he had seen me on ESPN during the highlights, so word got around pretty fast and I didn't have to tell her," he laughed.
Both Dr. Moores now work within the family's dental practice located in Rockford, Ill. Not only does Dr. Ryan Moore work with his wife, but he also works with his father (Dr. Tom Moore) and in the same building as his cousin (Dr. Kelly Moore). His uncle, Dr. Robert Moore, recently retired from dentistry.
"Our receptionist is good at figuring out which Dr. Moore people are talking about when they call," Dr. Ryan Moore laughed. "I love working with my family. Patients have been willing to give me a shot because they have known my dad for so long. There's an inherent trust in our patients, and that has helped me. My dad and I are very similar and we see many things the same way, so that has helped as well."
While Dr. Moore spends his days in the dental office, he still spends plenty of time on the soccer field. He currently serves as the varsity soccer coach for Boylan High School, his alma mater. With his coaching duties, he starts and ends his day at soccer practice and see patients during regular business hours.
"I grew up in Rockford, so I guess you could say I've made the full circle," Dr. Moore said. "I played soccer in Maryland and Florida, but I always had a plan in the back of my mind to come back to Rockford and work with my dad."
So what did Dr. Moore, who played collegiate soccer for national powerhouse Maryland, learn on the pitch that he can use in dentistry?
"I remember we played top-ranked Duke at home one year and were beating them 4-0 before we allowed them to have a cheap goal at the end. We wound up winning 4-1 and everyone was going crazy, but our coach was furious," Dr. Moore recalled. "He told us over and over that we were supposed to concentrate for 90 minutes and no less. We let up, they scored a goal, and he made sure we remembered to always work hard and concentrate. I've found the same thing when I work with patients. Everything is done on such a small scale in dentistry that you really can't let down on your concentration."
Editor's Note: This is the debut of a new monthly column in Dental Economics. This column will profile dentists who have interesting stories or backgrounds. If you know of a dentist who has a good story to tell, we'd love to hear about it. Send the information to Kevin Henry, managing editor of Dental Economics, at firstname.lastname@example.org.