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STEMJOBS.COM // EARLY SPRING 2018 25 resourcefulness. Those duties include taping and bracing, referral to specialized physicians, medical documentation, medical supply inventory and ordering, and medical billing and insurance to name a few. During the season, we work long hours and are usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. We start out the day treating any injured players for a couple of hours. The players then head to meetings with their coaches while we get administrative duties done in our office. After meetings, players come back for more treatments or to get taped for practice. When it's time for practice, we are there to watch and observe in case any of the players need anything or in case anyone gets hurt. Following practice, we usually do another treatment session for any injured players and get ready for the next day. Our typical schedule has us working every day during the season. Sunday is game day, Monday is a recovery day where we evaluate any injuries from the game the previous day, and Tuesday is a treatment day where all injured players come in to get treatment and rehabilitation. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are practice days and Saturday is a mock game or walk through to prepare for the game the following day. In the offseason, some players need to have surgery so we are there to handle the rehabilitation process. There are also many responsibilities that result from working with a team in the NFL. Every year there are 300+ college athletes invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. It is our job to gather medical history on these athletes so that our organization has the information to help make their decisions on who to draft each year. We also have a spring season where our players come back for workouts and spring practice. Before long, the regular season is upon us and we start the process all over again. SJ: What professional accomplishments are you especially proud of? SR: The accomplishment I'm most proud of is becoming the second full-time female athletic trainer in the history of the NFL. Ariko Iso was the first female athletic trainer in the NFL and worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2002-2011. When she left to take another position, I was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers to fill the opening. I was the only female in the NFL from 2011 until 2015, when the San Francisco 49ers and the LA Chargers both hired female assistant athletic trainers. In 2016, two more female assistant athletic trainers were hired by the Kansas City Chiefs and the LA Rams. Currently there are five females in the NFL and hopefully that number continues to grow as more and more women obtain internship opportunities. Being one of only a handful of female athletic trainers in the NFL has given me the opportunity to be a role model for female athletic training students. I've been asked to participate in many speaking engagements to elaborate on my position as an athletic trainer in the NFL. I've also received numerous letters and emails from young female athletic training students, thanking me for being a pioneer in the field of athletic training and asking for advice in how to pursue their goals. It really means a lot to me knowing that I've become someone for people to look up to, especially when I can encourage and inspire others to follow in my footsteps. SJ: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job? SR: The most challenging part of my job is to witness one of my athletes go through a significant or season- ending injury. We are trained to handle traumatic injuries when they occur but it is still difficult to watch your athlete deal with the emotions that come with a significant injury. They will likely have pain, especially if surgery is required, and they will be withheld from playing their sport for a significant amount of time. Part of our jobs as athletic trainers is to keep them engaged and motivated throughout the rehab process knowing that it is a long road and that the athlete will have many ups and downs along the way. The most rewarding part of my job is helping to get that player back to the field and back to their livelihood. Knowing that you played a role in their recovery is the most gratifying feeling. As you look toward your future, think about ways to combine your passions, strengths, and skills to create a career that fits you and the type of life you want to lead. You can't pursue a job you don't know about, so put yourself out there and embrace the opportunities life hands you. You can be just like Sonia, doing something you love while blazing a trail for others who didn't know a life like yours was possible.

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