As the city’s premier arena football league, the Pittsburgh Power, took the field, Ryan Wockley, a senior athletic training major at Waynesburg University, smiled with satisfaction and wished the players luck. More than a fan, the Pittsburgh Power athletic training intern watched as his hard work bandaging injuries, treating conditions and wrapping ankles resulted in points on the board.
“My favorite part was game days,” Wockley said. “There’s nothing better than seeing all the work you’ve done with the players pay off. When they can perform at their best because of the work you did with them, that makes it worth it.”
According to Michele Kabay, assistant professor of athletic training and clinical coordinator for Waynesburg University’s athletic training program, Wockley began inquiring about possible athletic training internships in his sophomore year.
“Ryan is a very hands-on learner, and although the athletic training curriculum includes clinical education requirements, Ryan took the initiative to begin networking with athletic training professionals, which helped lead to the unique experience of an internship with the Pittsburgh Power,” Kabay said.
Wockley, who serves as president of the Waynesburg Athletic Training Student Association (WUATSA), couldn’t imagine spending an entire summer not practicing his athletic training skills, so he applied for an internship with the well-known athletic team.
“I enjoy the clinical work, and I didn’t want to go a whole summer without doing something related to athletic training, so when I heard about the Power internship I jumped at the opportunity,” Wockley said. “I saw myself become more confident in my abilities and my knowledge. This internship showed me that I have the confidence and the tools needed to succeed as an athletic trainer.”
He worked with the Power’s professional athletic training staff to tape, brace and treat the players before and after practices and games. Wockley and his fellow trainers were responsible for conducting rehabilitation programs for athletes both on the active roster and also on injured reserve to help them progress, maintain or return to play.
Without exceptional teaching from Waynesburg University and the structure of its programs, Wockley said he would not have made such an impact or had such a great experience.
“One thing that sets Waynesburg apart is that students are accepted into the advanced program and begin core classes and clinical rotations sophomore year, as opposed to other schools where that doesn’t happen until the start of junior year,” Wockley said. “Having that extra year of clinical experience really helped because I was able to call on past experiences other interns may not have had.”
Though he initially struggled with the autonomy granted to him in the internship, Wockley said he quickly learned to trust his knowledge.
“The Power trusted us to work with the athletes and allowed us to treat their injuries as we saw fit,” Wockley said. “It was a challenge at first to trust in what I had learned and what I knew. Once I got into the first few weeks, I became very confident in what I was doing because I realized just how much I had learned at Waynesburg.”