Being an integral part of a team, a leader even, has always been important to John Mitrovic.
Mitrovic is vice president and the Williamsburg Regional Director of Tidewater Physical Therapy with a firm grasp of what’s important in business. A 1983 graduate of the College of William & Mary, Mitrovic joined Tidewater Physical Therapy in 1988.
The back story to his involvement with Tidewater is a journey that goes from the high school gridiron fields of New Jersey to the football field at the College of William & Mary, followed by a side trip up to Philadelphia, Pa.
Mitrovic attended the College of William & Mary from 1979-82 and played football — and formed a bond — with Wayne MacMasters, a defensive end. As an athlete, Mitrovic was a middle linebacker on the football team and as a student he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.
Initially he planned to follow his father and become a doctor. But his career plans changed when a Tribe athletic trainer and physical therapist taped up his ankle and became his mentor.
Following graduation from the College of William & Mary, Mitrovic became a strength and conditioning coach at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. From there, he entered the graduate program at Thomas Jefferson University School of Allied Professors in Philadelphia, Pa., earning his Physical Therapy degree in two years.
Mitrovic opted to move back to Virginia, becoming an intern in MacMasters’ emerging physical therapy office. He had started out in the Newport News office before going to work full-time at the Williamsburg clinic. In 1994, Mitrovic was named to the role of vice president.
In addition to his work with Tribe athletics as a physical therapy consultant, this fall he will begin to serve as Chairman of the Board of the Tribe Club raising money for athletic scholarships.
Mitrovic also enjoys his free time with his wife Suzanne and his with three daughters Alison, Marissa, and Kelli. He occasionally finds time to fish and work out.
The value of team
Things that are important to Mitrovic and that he brings to Tidewater are elements that make for a strong team.
“It’s a company that’s built on integrity, loyalty and doing things the right way,” Mitrovic said.
The lessons Mitrovic learned on the gridiron as a teammate and leader have naturally carried over to the way he operates in business: Integrity, loyalty and doing things the right way aren’t negotiable.
Musing over what playing football in New Jersey and with the Tribe taught him and how it’s carried over to Tidewater, Mitrovic is direct about his philosophy: “It speaks to the commitment you make as an athlete and teammate. It creates a bond matched by few and surpassed by none.”
The food factor
Mitrovic is a fan of Tribe football and he’s also a big-time fan of protein. Take last fall’s annual Tidewater Physical Therapy tailgate party before a College of William & Mary football game, where one colleague of Mitrovic’s noted with a wry smile that there was an absence of greens.
It was a pleasant October morning that drifted into a perfect fall afternoon, made even more splendid by Mitrovic’s grilling expertise and the spread put on by the Tidewater crew of volunteers, a group known collectively as the “New Jersey Boys” who grilled until 2:30 a.m. that morning.
“I’m so lucky I have my high school teammates from New Jersey who come down on an annual basis for this event,” Mitrovic said. “I could not do it without them and it allows us to fulfill our commitment to getting together twice a year. It’s a great chance to spend time together.”
So were those who enjoyed the meats of their labors. The menu from Tidewater’s annual William & Mary tailgate grillapalooza featured enough to feed a football team, if not the Tidewater Physical Therapy family.
The spread included:
• 90 lbs. of pork shoulder;
• 45 lbs. of brisket;
• 60 lbs. of Italian sausage;
• 20 lbs. of chicken;
• 4 lbs. of smoked Atlantic salmon.
• 30 quarts of hot sausage and clam chowder.
And those were pretty much just the main dishes. A u-shaped arrangement of tables underneath tailgating tents was piled high with food.
Joe Flannery, Clinical Director of the Tidewater Physical Therapy Williamsburg office, attends a couple of William & Mary football games a year. One being the company tailgate event.
“This is an event that we look forward to every year,” Flannery said. “Not only our office but all of the offices.”
Flannery has known Mitrovic since 2003 and has high regard for both his business acumen and grilling skills. When asked which Mitrovic does better, Joe responded, “I think he does both of them equally as well with a high level of expertise.”
Mitrovic comes by his love of cooking and grilling through his Croatian father, fluent in six languages and who persevered through in World War II and graduated from the University of Bologna in Italy with a medical degree.
He immigrated to the U.S., landing in New Jersey, and later tutored Mitrovic in the fine arts — of cooking.
“Growing up, my dad liked to cook,” Mitrovic said. “Sundays were a big day of cooking for us.”
Based on the Tidewater spread and ensuing compliments, Mitrovic is a student who has graduated to expert.
Aside from his grilling prowess, employees such as Todd Conway, a physical therapist assistant at the Tidewater Physical Therapy Williamsburg office, and Mike Satterley, Clinical Director at the Newport News Oyster Point office, speak highly of Mitrovic.
“I think we give the best quality care in the area,” Satterley said.
Ken Morris, Clinical Director at the Newport News Hidenwood office, said Mitrovic along with MacMasters have fostered a culture of trust in the business.
“They care about us,” he said. “I trust them. Whatever decisions they make I’ll go 100 percent on them.”
Love of the game
After all these years, Mitrovic remains attached to football. Or football remains attached to him. Mitrovic enjoys working the sidelines of Tribe football games and sees his sports medicine role as a way for himself, as a former player, to keep involved with the players and the game.
“As a former player, it’s a great way to stay close to the game,” Mitrovic said.
He really enjoys working with the football players, with one caveat: “I’d rather them not be in the clinic because it’s means they are injured,” he said.