Gaining experience from the OAC to the NFL

Senior Marin Schaffner and Greg Raimondo, ‘17, each spent their summer working with National Football League teams as athletic trainers. Though over 2,000 miles apart, both gained valuable experience in their summer internships.

The NFL provides summer internships in a wide variety of areas, including athletic training. Most teams typically carry between five and ten interns for OTAs (Organized Team Activities), training camp and preseason games. “My sophomore year, I sent resumé and cover letters to every team in the NFL,” Marin said. "I didn’t get an interview with any of them that year.”

That summer, Marin attended the National Athletic Trainers Association Conference in Baltimore, where she connected with Marco Zucconi, an assistant athletic trainer with the San Diego Chargers.

By the time fall came, Marin had already worked to improve her resumé and cover letter. “I originally met with Ryan (Musgrave, assistant professor of athletic training), who helped me get started, then I went to all of my professors,” she said. “I probably went through 10 different drafts.” The improved materials went out again to all 32 teams.

Proving networking is essential, she landed a phone interview with the now Los Angeles Chargers. Luckily, the athletic training staff for the Chargers stayed intact during the team’s move from San Diego, and she was offered a position as a seasonal intern with the team.

Along with seven summer and one seasonal interns, Marin had a packed schedule during training camp. “We’d eat breakfast at 5 a.m. and start treatments by 6 a.m. to get them ready for practice,” she said. “Practice ran from 10 a.m. until noon. The team had positional meetings in the afternoon so we would restock inventory, make mouthguards, whatever the players needed.”

Marin worked three preseason games as well -- two at the StubHub Center, the Chargers’ temporary home during the move, and one on the “road” against the Rams, who now also play in Los Angeles. As an athletic trainer, she notes the games were much more low-key than practices.

“We got to do a lot more as interns that I thought we would,” she said. “There are a lot of tools and techniques I was able to work with that I’d never had the chance to before. I learned a lot. It was a great experience.”

Back in Ohio, Greg Raimondo, ‘17, found out there aren’t many better places to start your career than interning with your favorite NFL franchise. Working with the Cleveland Browns, he has been able to do just that.

The lifelong Browns fan grew up and attended high school just a 20-minute drive south of FirstEnergy Stadium. With the help of his high school soccer coach at Normandy High School in Parma, Greg was able to get in touch with the Browns head athletic trainer. In the summer and fall of 2016, Greg worked as one of four student athletic trainers during OTAs and mini-camps.

“The first year with the Browns helped me a lot once I got back to Heidelberg,” Greg said. “I worked with the football team before soccer season started so it was nice to bring back a better understanding of everything.” The experience went well enough that the Browns staff asked him to come back again in 2017.

He, along with the other athletic trainers, typically show up before the players arrive and leave after they do. For OTAs, most days are a minimum of 10 hours for Greg and the athletic training staff. A typical day could include everything from setting up and tearing down after practice, following players from station to stating, attending meetings and giving treatments.

Greg worked exclusively with the offensive linemen this year during OTAs. “Wherever they went, I went,” he said. “It’s said that wherever your group goes, you need to beat them to where they’re going. It can be a lot of running. The biggest thing is to keep pushing fluids, keep everyone hydrated.”

In continuing to polish his skills, Greg has become a more confident in his abilities. “Working with high-profile athletes and getting comfortable around them really helped me. The internship and the experience I’m getting with the Browns has made me much more confident in my skills.”

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