OGDEN, Utah – When Real Salt Lake defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy for the MLS Cup last month in Seattle, Weber State University student Candi Henry had a unique perspective from the sidelines.
"As soon as Robbie Russell's ball went in the goal, we jumped over the boards and sprinted to the guys," she said. "I jumped on the pile and just jumped around and screamed a lot."
Henry spent most of the 2009 season as an athletic training intern with RSL, and was rewarded for her efforts with a trip to Seattle and a spot on the sidelines for the soccer team's first league championship.
Her main duties with RSL included performing ultrasound and electrical stimulation on players, helping with rehabilitation exercises, taping ankles, applying ice bags, and preparing ice and water for practices. On game days, she was part of the stretcher crew.
Even though Henry had always wanted to work with a professional sports team, it was difficult to include in her already busy schedule. During her internship, she carried a full graduate workload, completed a clinical internship with Olympus High School's football team, and worked on her graduate thesis. "I definitely needed the time that I spent with RSL free for schoolwork, but I would not change anything," she said.
One of the main benefits was seeing firsthand the demands on athletic trainers. "This is not a profession where you just clock in and out," Henry said. "Your athletes can call you in the middle of the night with a problem, and you have to deal with it. It is so rewarding though."
Henry believes the extra effort will help advance her career goals. "I hope that future employers will see that I have been able to balance so much this semester and still be successful," she said. "I will be prepared for the rigors of a full-time job in athletic training."
Valerie Herzog, director of the master of athletic training program at WSU, agrees that internships are a necessity for athletic training students. "The job market for athletic training positions in professional sports is very competitive," she said. "The only way to eventually land such a job is through professional internships, like the one Candi completed with Real Salt Lake."
Henry said she is sad to see the internship end, and that she will miss her interactions with RSL's players. "I'm so sad the ride is over," she said. "I may never see some of the guys again. They were like a little family to me, and I will miss them so much."
She plans on graduating with a master's degree in athletic training from WSU in August 2010.
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