LSU Kinesiology Students Develop Skills with Professional Sports Teams

BATON ROUGE – Three students in the LSU College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology had summers to remember, serving as interns for National Football League and Major League Baseball teams.

The NFL’s New York Giants invited Stephen Melancon, who interned in the 2008 training camp and preseason, to return this summer as the seasonal assistant athletic trainer for a full-year internship. Melancon, from Morgan City, is assisting the medical staff with numerous jobs including injury evaluation, packing medical supplies, rehabilitation of injuries, keeping track of medical records for the athletes, scheduling appointments with physicians and handling insurance claims.

The NFL’s Houston Texans hired Matt Rabalais for a six-week pre-season internship. Rabalais, from Baton Rouge, is working with their athletic training department performing tasks such as field set-up, rehabilitation assistance, taping and modalities.

Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers selected Noritoshi “Nolly” Shirawaka for a two-week internship to help the staff with daily treatment/rehabilitation and game coverage. Shirawaka, from Tokyo, Japan, also volunteered for five weeks as an athletic trainer for the Nippon Tornadoes basketball team. This team, which consisted of only Japanese players, participated in the American International Basketball League. Shirawaka assisted in the management of daily treatment, coordination of rehabilitation, first aid and emergency care.

“The athletic training program at LSU has produced several opportunities for its students to be able to participate as seasonal and summer interns for multiple NFL organizations throughout the years,” said Melancon. “I am only the most recent to have been given such an opportunity and definitely will not be the last. The kinesiology department as a whole is an outstanding organization that has prepared more than just great athletic trainers. It provides a solid platform for individuals who wish to be successful medical professionals.”

Collaboration between the LSU Athletic Department and the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology faculty proves instrumental in helping kinesiology students find placements as interns. They provide students with leads to possible employment opportunities and network with professional ball clubs. Clinical instructional staff assist students with resum?, job application, and interview preparation; writing letters of recommendation; and, most important, providing both the classroom and practical education that leads to success in sports medicine and athletic training careers. Such practical education includes clinical on-site work in orthopedics, family practice, pediatrics, surgery and other medical practices. These experiences, in addition to working with high school and university sports teams, give students the skills and on-the-job knowledge necessary to be a successful athletic trainer.

“LSU provides the educational background needed to be able to take the information given and apply it in real-world settings,” said Melancon.

Melancon is involved in the athletic training student organization Alpha Tau Sigma. He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a concentration in athletic training and a minor in sports studies. He currently plans to attend graduate school and return to an NFL organization as a full-time staff athletic trainer.

Rabalais is also a member of Alpha Tau Sigma. He plans to go on to graduate school and from that experience decide which environment will best suit him.

Shirakawa’s short-term goal is to work as an athletic trainer in the United States and establish his career for 10 years or more.

“After that, I want to bring back my experiences developed in the States to my country and develop a well-organized athletic training program in Japan,” he said.

To be recognized as a certified athletic trainer, a candidate must first graduate from an accredited program and then pass the board of certification examination. Once the exam is passed, then the candidate must fulfill the requirements for the state in which they wish to practice. Eighty-seven percent of LSU students pass the board exams on their first attempt, according to Ray Castle, assistant professor and director of the athletic training concentration in the Department of Kinesiology. The national average is 51.5 percent.

For more information on the College of Education’s athletic training major, contact Castle at rcastl1@lsu.edu or 225-578-7175.