In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer for a Minor League Professional Baseball Team
Aaron Hoback, ATC is an Athletic Trainer for a Triple-A Minor League Baseball team located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Describe your setting:
Our team is in the Pacific Coast Baseball League, which plays teams across the West Coast and Midwest. We begin spring training in Phoenix, Arizona starting mid-February, break camp in early April to begin the regular season and finish up the Minor League season in early September.
During the season, I am accompanied by strength and conditioning coach Andrew Emmick, CSCS and affiliate physicians Dr. Ron Hollis and Dr. Jarrod Harrall.
How long have you been practicing as an AT?
I have been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer (AT) since 2005. I spent 2 years as a graduate assistant at Wichita State University and the last 11 years in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Describe your typical day:
There is no such thing as a typical day for an AT, especially one practicing in professional baseball. My day-to-day operations usually begin early at around 9:00am with paperwork and cleaning and organizing the athletic training facility. If there were any injuries during the game or practice the night before, I run players to the physician’s offices for evaluation or diagnostic studies including x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Once the documentation work is complete, players usually arrive at the field between noon and 1:00pm for early work and treatment. Treatments include daily maintenance such as prepping players for a game and corrective exercise programs. At around 3:00pm until game time, we are completing pre-game work including pitching and batting practice.
At least an hour prior, the starting pitcher prepares for the game which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. From 7:00pm to 10:00 pm or whenever the game is over, I am in the dugout for game coverage. From post-game until approximately 11:00pm or 12:00am, I am completing my medical documentation and post-game treatments.
What do you like about your position?
First and foremost, I like the relationships fostered with players, coaches, front office and fellow medical staff. Baseball is a small world so you tend to see the same individual’s year after year and become close. As a result, I tend to take it to heart when one of the players is injured throughout the season. I do also find it very rewarding when a player is able to get back on the field and return to play. Watching a player return from injury can give you a great sense of accomplishment.
Another rewarding thing about my practice is watching these young gentlemen get the opportunity to move up to the Major League level. Being at the Triple-A level, we get the benefit of seeing this happen quite often. We have the opportunity to watch their hard work and dedication pay off in making it to the next level.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
I often suggest athletic training students or those striving to get into professional baseball or professional sports in general need to get experience. There is a lot of competition so you will need to have something on your resume that sets you apart. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take an internship if it means making connections in your industry of interest. I completed multiple unpaid internships to pave the way to getting a job within the professional setting.
Most teams are looking for individuals who already have a skill-set, be it hands on skills or research background. Most Major and Minor League Baseball teams now have a sports science area and are incorporating analytical data into their injury prevention models. These skill-sets will help athletic training students stand out from the crowd.
Finally, communicate, communicate, communicate! When dealing with professional athletes, there are many departments that are in the need to know category. Being able to efficiently and effectively communicate about all aspects of day-to-day operations and players health is vital. Face to face and verbal communication skills are essential in not only the medical field, but also key in developing relationships within the professional setting.