It’s not every day that you’re running through the smoke onto a football field filled with 120 players in front of you, the band playing, and thousands of fans cheering in the stands. Though you might not notice those few people running out behind the team, you can find me there every Saturday.

I have the unique opportunity of being a part of the NC State Football team, not as a coach or player, but a student athletic trainer. The most exciting part of my job is found on Saturday game days, though some of the best moments are spent in the day-to-day experiences with the team.

As a student athletic trainer, I am assigned to a position group and I stay with that group throughout the entirety of practice. My Tuesday-Friday mornings are spent with the tight ends and wide receivers. After two seasons with these groups, the guys have taken me in and made me felt like part of their groups.

My job involves many things but during practice, I am strictly there for my group. You might call us watergirls, but “hydration specialist” is another term we’ve convinced everyone to use. 😉 All jokes aside, I primarily focus on keeping my players hydrated. This becomes a full-time job, especially during preseason training camp and the beginning months of the season when the weather is still excruciatingly hot. Part of the fun part of our job is learning all of the guys’ preferences – it’s kind of like a game. Many of the offensive skill players prefer you to squirt the water into their mouth to avoid getting their gloves wet since they have to catch the ball. Some guys refuse to drink Powerade. Some guys love Powerade. Some guys want short sips of water, while others like to drink lots of water less frequently. It keeps me on my toes to always be prepared for each individual player.

Another part of my job that I really enjoy is rehabilitation. Before and after practice, we have the opportunity of assisting the athletic trainers with treatment on injured players. Because I want to pursue a career in sports medicine, this is definitely one of my favorite parts. I have learned how to use many different treatment modalities and have also learned more than I ever expected about sports injuries. All this hands-on experience is something that is difficult to find in undergrad and has made me much more effective at patient care.

On a personal level, this job has completely defined my college experience. The other student trainers and mangers that I work with have become some of my closest friends. Spending so much time together brings you so close and really develops a family atmosphere. The relationships I have built with the athletic trainers that I work for have provided me with not only professional opportunities, but also with strong role models and mentors. Finally, the friendships I have developed with other players and coaches have been so fun. Being a part of this football team is simply the best experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to spend every day at Carter Finley.