Senior athletic training major Crystal Wright (photo, left) scored an internship this summer working alongside athletic trainers and players for USA Volleyball men’s and women’s national teams.
“Heidi Matthews [professor of health and physical education and director of the athletic training education program] gave me contact information for the men’s head athletic trainer and let me run with it. Soon I had an interview and spent three intense weeks in Anaheim, California, doing athletic training and learning advanced manual therapy.” Her contact was former North Central College head athletic trainer Aaron Brock and current men’s director of sports medicine and performance for USA Volleyball.
Wright was fully immersed in the job, putting in 10 to 12 hours daily to complete the required 150 hours for the internship. “The interesting thing about USA Volleyball is the men’s and women’s athletic trainers are literally part of the team. We were on the court for team meetings, running abdominal work before practice, instructing warm-up and cool-down stretches, helping with personal rehabilitation and weight training. … We were always with the team and working with the athletes, one on one.”
Wright discovered the athletic trainers used manual therapy to help the athletes feel 100 percent. “The men’s director of sports medicine and performance helped me understand manual therapy techniques and the power of the human touch and to think about the ‘why’ in everything I do.”
She also spent much of her time with the strength and conditioning specialist for both teams. “Since I’m working toward certifications, I watched him with the athletes in the weight room and also talked with and worked alongside many massage therapists, a sports psychologist, technical coordinator, coaches and a dietician/nutritionist. The staff treats each athlete on an individual basis, so each one can advance in his or her own way instead of trying to fit a certain mold. Everything is tailored to meet each athlete’s needs.”
Wright says her internship was “definitely an opportunity of a lifetime” that will help her in seeking employment opportunities in the future. She returned to campus to begin her fourth season as an outside hitter on North Central’s varsity volleyball team.