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Boise State athletic training students go pro

For many years now, Broncos have delivered. For the Buffalo Bills. For the Seattle Seahawks. For the Colts, 49ers, Falcons and Chargers.

Surprised? You would be if you had your eye on the ball.

Because Boise State students are working on the sidelines, behind the scenes, after hours and at all hours to keep the players ready for game day.

Boise State Athletic Training students Sabrina Ingram-Rajan works with NFL 49er Tyler Kroft
Boise State Athletic Training students Sabrina Ingram-Rajan applies preventative taping to NFL 49er Tyler Kroft’s shoe.

Accredited since the early 1980s, Boise State’s athletic training program has for decades sent students, at the rate of about one a year, to the pros for season and summer internships; three students took part in NFL internships this past year.

The Boise State program is highly successful; the overwhelming majority of graduates have jobs lined up before they finish the program. It’s a no-brainer that the highly selective world of pro football would want known and proven commodities — and Boise State delivers.

According to Dave Hammons, director of the Master of Athletic Training program and associate professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences, the programs that have taken on Boise State students “are very, very competitive,” noting that full-time athletic trainers often start in the seasonal and summer internship spots. “They like people to get exposed to the rigor.”

Students who apply for summer internships and are accepted typically take part in six- to eight-week preseason stints, then return to their studies in the fall. Sometimes, a summer internship leads to a full-season internship.

The experience alone tests students’ mettle. They set these opportunities up themselves — “They’re extra clinical experiences that the students apply for,” Hammons notes — and the work is demanding.

Sabrina Ingram-Rajan hands out waterbottles to San Fransisco 49er players
Sabrina Ingram-Rajan hands out waterbottles to San Fransisco 49er players

Sabrina Ingram-Rajan can attest to that. At 23, she is a former 49er — one of the master’s students who already have a pro football summer internship under the belt.

During her time with the team last summer, Ingram-Rajan helped with treatment, field set-up, practice and game coverage. The days were long and but the work was addictive.

“60- to 80-hour weeks for all six weeks,” she recalls. “The people, the staff, the organization was great, the athletes … They are less intimidating than you think they are.”

Hammons’ program, like so many others in Boise State’s College of Health Sciences, benefits from a very involved faculty and long-standing relationships in the community. The athletic training students routinely also find internship and job placements with local clinics, hospitals and health systems, teams, schools and school districts — along with Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, Disneyland (caring for performers and cast members), sports camps, rodeo organizations – even the military.

Of the 16 students who completed the program last year, three-quarters had landed full-time jobs before graduation.

“We’re a hundred percent placement,” Hammons said, adding that ironically, the pandemic expanded opportunities for athletic trainers by showcasing their versatility at a time when many organizations were stretched to meet demands for clinical services.

“The hands-on clinical experience is invaluable to these students,” he said. “There’s no shortage of athletic training jobs right now.”

Read more about Boise State athletic training student experiences