NFL experience for UD student athletic trainer
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson September 26, 2017
Senior Megan O’Hanlon prepares for primetime football
University of Delaware athletic training student Megan O’Hanlon is no stranger to primetime football. Before her senior year began, she gained clinical experience on the field with the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League and the University of Alabama of the famed Southeastern Conference. The UD Athletic Training Program has a long history of NFL internships with 25 such placements; O’Hanlon is the first female student to break through.
The Buffalo Bills’ eight-week internship took place at this summer’s training camp in Rochester, N.Y. in addition to the team’s home turf in Buffalo. In a profession that’s well-known for grueling hours and hard work, O’Hanlon spent long days — five in the morning to seven at night — working on treatments, practices and meetings with the sports medicine staff.
But working with a high-profile football team was already old hat for O’Hanlon. During the summer of 2016, she was in Tuscaloosa with the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide.
“Football is football,” said O’Hanlon, who also works closely with the UD football team during the academic year. “Everything that we did in Buffalo, was so similar to Delaware and Alabama. Practice is the same, they run the same drills, they lift and go to meetings. The main difference is that football is the player’s job in the NFL.”
For athletic training students like O’Hanlon with their sights set on careers with professional sports teams and elite college programs, two things are paramount — clinical experience and networking opportunities. The UD Athletic Training Program director Tom Kaminski makes sure students not only get plenty of both, but do so early. O’Hanlon found herself working major internships a full year before counterparts in other schools’ athletic training programs.
“As one of the youngest interns, my clinical experience was much more advanced than most of the other students I worked with,” O’Hanlon said. “I felt a lot more ahead than some people that were older than me.”
“Megan has really excelled in the clinical environment — quickly gaining the trust of the athletes as well as the respect from her clinical preceptors,” explained Kaminski. “These tools will allow her to go a long way in the athletic training profession, including working in professional sports.”
O’Hanlon has long dreamed of career in sports medicine. The Seattle, Wash., native grew up in a family of rabid sports fans.
And with a mom working as a physical therapist, a health sciences career path seemed logical.
“Watching games on TV, I was always interested in becoming the athletic trainer on the field running around to help the players,” said O’Hanlon.
Despite the Pacific Northwest home, O’Hanlon has several family members who are Delaware natives. And they were not-so-subtly encouraging the then high school student to apply. Once she researched UD’s Athletic Training Program, Megan was sold.
“I met with Dr. Kaminski when I first visited and, after learning more about the program, and seeing the facilities, I fell in love with UD,” she said.
After graduating from UD in the spring, O’Hanlon hopes to attend graduate school, work with a major college football team and keep building on her experience as she eyes a full-time gig in the NFL.
“I loved everything about the NFL,” she said. “I had such an amazing time and experience working with the Bills; that is where I see myself ending up.”
“Once she becomes certified in April 2018 the world is hers,” Kaminski said. “I’m excited for her future in the athletic training profession not only as a clinician, but as a future leader.”