By Bryson Durst
While many Americans enjoy watching football games, few get to experience the inner workings of a professional football team.
Cedarville senior Kelsey Howell grew up watching the sport but did not expect that she would one day get, as she said, “to be a part of something that is such a huge part of the American culture.”
That changed last fall when Howell interned as an athletic trainer with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Howell is an athletic training major, a course of study which she describes as being “focused on injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries.”
The internship lasted from April-December 2019, meaning she worked during veteran’s training camp, the offseason, summer training camp and the regular season.
During her internship she experienced athletic training in the context of a large professional sports organization, giving her the chance to help with administration, organize the training facilities, meet with players, and help out at team practices and many of their games. She worked the Bengals’ home games, nearby away games in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and Bengals’ preseason game in Kansas City.
As one of the interns working for the Bengals, Howell was responsible for the players on defense. One of her responsibilities was to help open and maintain the training facilities, which would include removing the covers from the tubs, vacuuming, getting the equipment ready for the day, and making sure the training environment was clean. She would also help with the players’ treatment and rehabilitation, set up before and clean up after practice, and keep the players hydrated.
In addition to providing interns like Howell with practical experience in sports medicine, the internship also helped the Bengals, particularly in the offseason when the roster was larger.
The Bengals only began allowing females to apply for internships in February 2019.
Even after the applications were open, Howell said “I definitely never thought I’d get it, and then I did, and it was the coolest experience ever.”
During her internship, she said that, while the Bengals expected interns to know what they were doing and to have learned about athletic training, it was more important that interns were “willing to work hard and willing to learn and not afraid to make mistakes.”
According to Mike Weller, director of Athletic Training at Cedarville and a former athletic trainer for the Bengals, Cedarville’s relationship with the team goes back to 2011. Most students in Cedarville’s Athletic Training program do sports medicine internships, though not very many do them with NFL teams.
After graduation, some students have worked with NFL teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Weller said that interns like Howell “have the opportunity to impact an athlete or a patient who has their self-worth or identity in sports, and when those things are taken away there are a lot of questions that get asked.”
Bryson Durst is a sophomore in the Accelerated B.A. + MDiv program. He enjoys theology, history, playing strategy games with friends, and anything Star Wars related.