After spending their sophomore years working as athletic trainers with the ISU football team, four students from Iowa State received internships in the NFL.
Jordan Pierce, Austin Larsen, Jacob Laverman and Brian Sanders received calls last spring accepting their applications from the Broncos, Saints, Colts and Vikings respectively. For one student, the call came rather unexpectedly.
“I was sitting in the middle of class, and I looked at my phone and noticed I was getting a call and the area code was from New Orleans. ... So I knew it was them, but I let it ring through and then I had a voicemail,” Larsen said. “I couldn’t sit through the rest of the class not knowing what it was, so I just got up and went out into the hallway and listened to the voicemail.”
The call was from the head athletic trainer of the Saints offering Larsen an internship position as an athletic trainer. Larsen had no doubts when deciding whether or not to accept the offer.
“I said 'oh god yeah, of course,'" Larsen said. "It was the best thing I’ve heard in a long time."
Upon arrival at each internship, the students were assigned a specific position to work with along with many job responsibilities. They said the work was endless and related to the work they received with the ISU football team.
Some weeks, the interns worked as long as 95 hours including early mornings starting as early as 4:30 a.m. and late nights lasting as late as 11 p.m. Responsibilities included setting up the field, basic first aid duties and keeping the players hydrated.
In addition to all of the responsibilities, Larsen was provided the opportunity of driving players to the doctor in brand new 2014 GMC Yukons. One trip in particular was a very emotional one involving 12-year veteran defensive end, Kenyon Coleman.
Coleman tore a pectoral muscle during practice in early August and was encouraged by the doctor to have season-ending surgery. Larsen was with Coleman as the doctor told him the news.
Not only did the surgery end Coleman’s year, it also ended his career as he had already decided this year would be his last in the NFL.
“He took it very well. He said, 'I’ve been in the league 12 years'; he said, 'Honestly, I’ve been blessed so far that I haven’t had major injuries and no big setbacks,'” Larsen said.
Along with the experience the interns received working as athletic trainers, they also had the opportunity to meet and work with players like four-time NFL MVP and quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning.
Pierce had the opportunity to meet with Manning during the second day of his internship with the Broncos.
“[Manning] actually walked right up, introduced himself and shook our hands,” Pierce said. “It was pretty cool how he introduced himself. He was very professional about it and very humble about it as well."
Laverman said he was surprised that the players didn’t feel the need to show off and act like "hot shots."
“Most of the guys in [Indianapolis] didn’t have that big ego,” Laverman said. “They’re just normal people with you, there’s lots of fun loving, there’s lots of joking around going on. Once you start getting jokes pulled on you, and you vice versa, that’s kind of when you know you’re accepted into the family. They’re really just kind of treating you as one of your own.”
Sanders was assigned to work with the offensive line for the Vikings and received an opportunity to meet 2012 NFL MVP, Adrian Peterson.
“He was always really down to earth and very respectful and appreciative of what we were doing for him,” Sanders said.
Working as interns in the NFL has provided the four juniors with experience that many of the other athletic training students across the country never receive. They said it has also provided them an advantage when searching for a position in the athletic training profession after college.