College Athletic Trainer: Interview with an AT trainee in Florida


the University of Florida is well known for its elite athletic programs as the college hosts 21 Division I athletic teams. However, sport comes with injuries, trials and tribulations and that is where students like Jacquelyn Pacheco win their time on the field, court and mat.

Students who do not display their last name on their back appear. Students who do not display a number on the back of the Florida Gators uniform. The team behind the teams.

Pacheco is an athletic training student in Florida. The position is unique because while 90,000 fans are screaming at the top of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, she is there to work.

So what does she do and what does she look like in The Swamp?

Life as an Athletic Training Intern in Florida

Jacquelyn Pacheco (second from right) poses for a photo with fellow interns at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Courtesy of Jacquelyn Pacheco)

The day-to-day life of a student athletic trainer includes one-on-one treatments, attending practices and practices, and assisting coaches in any way possible, Pacheco said. This included cleaning, inventory, paperwork and shopping.

“In the fall, I was working home football games,” she said. “I went to an away game against Georgia in Jacksonville, which was an amazing opportunity to travel to a different stadium and help our team.”

As a student athletic trainer, she works day in and day out with student-athletes. According to the Sports Health Performance Department, this is a full-time position requiring trainees to work approximately 40 hours per week.

“I constantly ask them about their health, make treatment plans with them, and observe them during workouts and workouts,” she said.

Pacheco said student athletic coaches are thrown into the mix in order to learn first-hand.

“They never make you do anything they’re not sure you can do or anything that would hurt the athlete,” she said. “They’re always there supervising you and making sure you’re doing it right, so when you get to the point where you no longer need supervision for a treatment plan, that’s a really big accomplishment.”

Pacheco found the position through an advertisement posted by the College of Health and Human Performance. The 22-year-old sports management executive said the position is looking for interns in the sports health performance department for football in the fall of 2021. She works directly for the University Athletic Association.

Florida coaches tend to Kyle Trask's injury in a 2019 game.
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to UAA Sports Health Performance Department, the internship covers all university semesters, including summer terms. The internship gives students the opportunity to work with certified athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and sports dietitians. The association states that it accepts students from many university programs and Santa Fe College.

To apply, students submit a completed application, CV and list of three references.

She said the process is complete, as it shows the growth of interns from the start of the internship when they knew little or nothing about the field.

During football matches, Pacheco and his colleagues could be found assisting coaches and providing players and referees with adequate hydration.

“We even had the opportunity to run onto the pitch during breaks to make sure our referees and other staff on the pitch were also hydrated,” she said.

Trainees are easily recognizable on the sideline and on the pitch wearing blue polo shirts and khakis.

Pacheco said the experience taught him to think on his feet.

“You have to be able to not get overwhelmed with multitasking, which I found very difficult when I started,” she said. “It’s very fast [paced] industry and you have to adapt and be flexible.

Athletic coaches tend to Florida DB Jeawon Taylor during a 2016 game.
Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Luckily, Pacheco and his colleagues are following the athletic trainer’s lead – the trick is not to get caught in the crossfire.

“You are there to help them, not to stop them from trying to do their job,” she said. “You let them assess the injury and follow the instructions they give you quickly and efficiently.”

But Pacheco’s supervisor would describe her as “energetic and enthusiastic”, she said.

“I’m always excited to do or learn something new and be a part of the incredible athletic program we have at the University of Florida, Pacheco said.

The position is a good fit for the 22-year-old, as the UAA Sports Health and Performance team was looking for interns who had a positive attitude, great work ethic and the ability to collaborate.

Pacheco’s “energetic and enthusiastic” nature landed him a coaching job at the Lemerand Athletic Center, Florida’s multimillion-dollar athletic facility, as a student athletic trainer for the volleyball teams and of UF spirit (cheerleaders, dazzlers, Albert and Alberta).

What she likes most about her job

Seeing all the hard work put into it is Pacheco’s favorite part.

“What I love about my job is the opportunity to see the hard work of our team before they hit the pitch on Saturday (for football) and on the pitch (for volleyball ).”

She credited the total effort of all the staff, stressing that behind the scenes does not go unnoticed.

“We have so many talented and dedicated staff members at UF and being able to see them working behind the scenes is a truly amazing opportunity,” Pacheco said. “A lot of people only see the performance on game day, but I can see the daily hard work of the players, coaches and other staff.”

This isn’t the senior’s first rodeo, though. Pacheco broke the ice of sports coaching in high school, where she helped her high school football team.

As a UF student, the senior said she always enjoyed sports outside of work. Prior to acquiring positions at the UAA and the Lemerand Athletic Center, Pacheco served as a marketing intern and was able to attend all sporting events as a student.

“I love going to baseball games, gymnastics competitions and volleyball games,” she said. “When I’m not working on the pitch, I’ll be in the stands at football matches cheering on the players.”

The student sports trainer is an athlete herself. Pacheco is a member of the UF Club Cheerleading team. The team competes in the Intermediate D1A and Spirit Rally divisions of the National Cheerleading Associations.

The eldest isn’t sold on a career path, but she knows her current positions continue to point her in the right direction.

“I really know I want to work in sports,” she said. “I’ve known this since I was in high school, but what exactly I want to do is still unclear.”

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