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Athletic Training: It's Not Just for the Boys

Written by Gillian Smith

Ithaca College athletic equipment

Anyone who watches pro football, baseball, basketball, or hockey can be forgiven for thinking athletic training is a guy’s gig--so far there is only one full-time female trainer in the NFL, one female assistant trainer in the NBA, and none in the NHL or MLB. But these young female athletic trainers show girls can play, too. And who knows? Maybe it will be a woman from IC who breaks the next pro barrier.



Nancy Patterson ’07
For Nancy Patterson, baseball is more about pulled hamstrings and sore muscles than RBIs and ERAs. After completing her undergrad certification, she interned a full season with the Boston Red Sox working on both preventative strength training and athletic training. Then, after getting her master’s degree from IC in exercise and sport sciences with a concentration in sport psychology, she landed a job as trainer for the advanced A minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers. She was on her way to Tennessee to be trainer for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers’ AA team, when she got the call to the big show to become an assistant athletic trainer for the major league team.

“When I first graduated, I felt like I was much more prepared and experienced than recent grads from other programs,” Patterson says. “I attribute this to the way IC’s program is put together and the outstanding professors who put in the extra time and effort to help the students succeed.”

As an undergrad, Patterson worked at the IC Wellness Clinic for several years as a fitness specialist and says the experience was incredibly beneficial to her, both in applying for jobs and assisting with entrance physicals during spring training.

“The most important decisions I made in getting to where I am now were the decision to go to Ithaca College and the decision to make the most of every day and all of the resources available to me.”


Jessica Farley ’09
With a diploma in hand, athletic training major Jessica Farley moved to Australia, where she had studied abroad while at IC, and got a job with the Junior Broadbeach Football Club, working with preteens and teenagers. This club plays Australian rules football (sometimes referred to as footy), a relative of rugby. Farley attends both games and practices, where she provides on- and off-the-field first aid and rehabilitative care.

“Ithaca College provided me with all the necessary building blocks—academically, mentally, and emotionally— to be a successful athletic trainer,” she says. Her employer is on the same page, too. “They told me I was hired based on my impressive résumé.”

Farley enjoys teaching the kids about the human body, injury, and recovery. “I like passing along healthrelated information to others,” she says. “I believe that we all should have some sort of sense of what is happening within our own body, particularly when one is injured.”


Emily Ambrose Disneyland ATC

Emily Ambrose ’08
Working with the University of Oregon’s gymnastics team as her first job out of college inspired Emily Ambrose to go back to her roots as a ballet dancer and pursue a career with performers.

She landed a position at Disneyland as an athletic trainer, working with actors dressed up in animal costumes, acrobats in the shows, and performers in the Disneyland parade to prevent injuries that might occur on the job. “Basically,” she explains, “we use corrective exercises, movement assessments, and incorporate Pilates in order to keep cast members healthy.”

Ambrose loves that she has a say in the entire process. “The best part is that performers come to me for consultation in the pre-parade, pre-show phase,” she says. “I consult with choreographers and costume designers to develop a safe environment for cast members.” Ambrose credits IC’s athletic training program for enabling her to follow her dreams and work toward a job she loves. “I have to say, that ultimate confidence and base of knowledge and curiosity definitely spurred from my experience at Ithaca.”



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