Virginia resident Dr. Andy Janiga (above, center) loved baseball long before he even met dentistry.
As early as age two or three he first picked up a bat and threw the ball around with his dad. He demonstrated a natural ability for athletics and spent his childhood playing sports with his younger brothers.
Now 28 and a dentist in his third year of practice at Mosier Dental Clinic, Dr. Janiga said his passion for baseball carried through during elementary school, middle school, high school, and undergraduate years.
One Friday night in the spring of his senior year of high school, Janiga pitched a perfect game. In seven innings, he threw 18 strikeouts with 21 total outs.
That following Monday, Dr. Janiga threw a 10-inning game and earned 22 strikeouts. Over the course of those two days, his team achieved a total of 40 strikeouts.
“It was a great experience to finish off a high school career,” he says.
Dr. Janiga continued as a baseball star, playing all four years at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 2008, his team won the national championship, going 45 and 1, with a few players being drafted by the major leagues.
“To be able to participate and help out as a contributing member of that team was an unbelievable experience that’s hard to put into words. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he says.
Dr. Janiga’s favorite team is the Boston Red Sox and in his youth, he was a huge fan of Pedro Martinez, one of their Hall of Fame pitchers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He admires baseball legend Ted Williams, a 19-time All-Star, and two-time recipient of the American League MVP Award.
“Ted Williams had taken time out of his career to give service to his country. He was able to accomplish quite a bit. Nobody knows how much he would’ve accomplished if he hadn’t taken time out to serve his country. He made a great impact on a lot of people,” says Dr. Janiga, referencing his service time during World War II and the Korean War.
Dr. Janiga attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He also completed a one-year AEGD military program at Fort Lewis in the Washington area.
From North Chesterfield, Virginia, Dr. Janiga is approaching his third year of practice at Mosier Dental Clinic, where he has been in practice for 18 months.
Dr. Janiga believes there’s an overlap in the leadership required in his career in baseball and his profession in dentistry.
“The whole concept of teamwork has been huge. When playing baseball, everybody is working together towards one common goal. If somebody is having an off day, you rely on other members of the team to step up and fill that void. The same kind of thing applies to our clinic. Whenever somebody is having an off day, is feeling sick, or doesn’t show up, we rely on each other as a team to work together to meet our common goal: helping our patients out and running a successful practice.”
Dr. Janiga shares what gives him the most satisfaction as a dentist, and as an athlete:
“In both aspects, [what gives me the most satisfaction] is being able to accomplish a goal you set out to achieve. In baseball, it’s going out on a daily basis and working to get better and trying to improve your skills to become a better athlete. With dentistry, it’s the same thing – trying to improve your skills, your knowledge. The other thing, from a dental standpoint, is to improve patient health. It’s always enjoyable to be able to take a patient coming in looking for help from point A to point B and work with them on that journey to get them to where they want to go.”
These days, Dr. Janiga doesn’t get to play as much baseball as he would like. Instead, he’s more of a golfer and even plays squash with his wife. Though he would love to attend Spring Training one day, right now, he is busy with his profession.
Dr. Janiga gives a lot of credit to Dr. Neil Hoss, a local dentist for whom he worked, along with his mentors from dental school – Drs. Jeff Ingber, Tara Sexton and David Swiecinski.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be nearly as far in my career as I am at this point. I wouldn’t have that passion and that excitement for learning what’s new and out there, and for taking what’s new and our learning experiences from continuing education courses to help our patients on a daily basis,” he says.
Dr. Janiga is an avid believer in continuing education, taking more than 100 CE hours each year, well over the requirements for the state of Virginia. He explains that his educational experience at Trinity College is what motivates him.
“One of the core values Trinity prides itself on is the fact it’s a liberal arts school. Part of their mission statement is to develop as lifelong learners. It’s something that I’ve really taken to heart ever since graduating.”
He continues, “Trinity’s mission statement taught me to be curious, and to learn what else is out there… as much as you think you know, there’s a whole heck of a lot more that you don’t know. That really inspired me to get out and learn what else is out there in dentistry.”