CEDARVILLE, Ohio – Erika Spudie has spent the last five months on a big stage.
Spudie, a senior student from Perrysburg, began work in July as a trainer with the Columbus Crew, a professional men's soccer team which competes in Major League Soccer. She concluded her time there at the end of November.
Cedarville University’s athletic training program works with the Crew to provide the team with interns. After interviewing and completing the hiring process, Spudie was selected for the internship and began work in the athletic training room. Spudie was one of 60 students offered an internship with Major League Soccer.
Spudie’s role involved all facets of the athletic health care for the team. She handled injury evaluations, treatment, rehabilitation, strength and conditioning components, and diet and nutrition.
During each day, she began by helping to prepare the team’s facilities for practice. This included arranging taping stations and filling water bottles to readying hot tubs. Once the players arrived, she helped the team’s two athletic trainers with pregame treatments, taping, rehab and any injury evaluations. During practice, Spudie worked with the Crew staff to treat injuries and work through any necessary rehabilitation protocols.
On such a big stage, Spudie said she is thankful for an experience like this one.
“Getting to know the players on the team has been such a benefit to having a major league internship such as this one,” she said. “The guys on the team have been so respectful and have created an environment conducive to learning.”
The nature of the work allows athletic trainers to spend a lot of time with those they are treating. As such, it is easy to form relationships with the athletes. Spudie’s favorite part of her work was the daily contact and relationship-building with the athletes she served.
“Having such a consistent relationship is really important for building rapport, and it’s an aspect of the profession I enjoy,” she said. One way she did so was by teaching herself Spanish during her two-hour commute so she could better communicate with some of the Latin American players on the team.
“This has strengthened my relationships with some of them, which has really blessed me in ways they don’t even realize,” she said.
Where do students like Spudie get this heart for relationships and personal caring for those they are serving? Mike Weller, assistant professor of athletic training and program director for the athletic training education program at Cedarville University, is just one of the sources. The university's athletic training faculty hope to instill in the students this desire to serve.
“If we don’t show them the ministry opportunities in athletic training, then we’re doing a disservice to our students,” Weller said.
The athletic training major at the university is preparing its students for serving both the body and the spirit.
“Most of the athletic training students across the country are learning the same curriculum,” Weller said. “They’re getting the same kind of information. But there is a distinction among Cedarville grads: they’re making a lasting impact.”