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For the love of the game: UTHealth docs headed to Final Four with Houston Cougars

Photo of Andrew Li-Yung Hing, MD, and Paul Shupe, MD,  who help to provide exceptional care for the University of Houston's Cougars as they head to the Final Four. (Photo courtesy of Paul Shupe, MD)
Andrew Li-Yung Hing, MD, and Paul Shupe, MD, help to provide exceptional care for the University of Houston's Cougars as they head to the Final Four. (Photo courtesy of Paul Shupe, MD)
Photo of Paul Shupe, MD, and John Houston, associate athletics trainer at the University of Houston, celebrating the Cougars heading to the Final Four. (Photo courtesy of Paul Shupe, MD)
Paul Shupe, MD, and John Houston, associate athletics trainer at the University of Houston, celebrating the Cougars heading to the Final Four. (Photo courtesy of Paul Shupe, MD)

For the first time in 37 years, the University of Houston Cougars are headed to the Final Four after beating Oregon State by six points in the NCAA Division I Tournament. For fans everywhere, it was a historic moment to be celebrated. For Paul Shupe, MD, and Andrew Li-Yung Hing, MD, with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), it was all that and much more.

“It was almost surreal. I was on the court when they won the game. Seeing Coach Kelvin Sampson and his family crying tears of joy and hugging – it was incredible to be a part of that,” said Shupe, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and orthopedic surgeon with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute.

Present for practices, home and away games, and on call for emergencies – both physicians play hands-on roles in the team’s overall health.

“We provide medical guidance for the trainers, helping with the day-to-day care of the athletes,” said Shupe.

Shupe and Li are an integral part of the Cougars’ medical team as the lead orthopedic and primary care/sports medicine doctors, respectively. Together, they support the team through collaborations with trainers and other medical personnel.

While Shupe’s position focuses more on general care and surgical needs, Li handles the medical management of the team.

“My job focuses on the health of each athlete,” said Li, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School and sports medicine specialist with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute. “These are very active individuals and we want to prevent any potential injuries or problems.”

However, during a pandemic the health of an athlete becomes much more critical. To help keep the team and staff safe, Li took on additional responsibilities.

“For the past year, I’ve taken the lead on all of the COVID-19 testing and implementing necessary safety protocols,” said Li.

Also helping with the care of the Cougars are the medical experts at Memorial Hermann, the official health care provider for the University of Houston.

“It is a great collaborative effort and we couldn’t do it without them,” said Shupe. “Dr. Li and I are boots on the ground, but we have their whole facility and staff to support us.”

The Final Four game will be held Saturday, April 3, at 4:14 p.m. – Houston Cougars versus the Baylor Bears. This game will be the first time two Texas teams have made it to the Final Four in the same year.

Both Shupe and Li also see patients at various UT Physicians locations. UT Physicians is the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School. For more information on our orthopedic services, visit this page.

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