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By Tsutomu Kamiya

This past March, I participated in a two-week long Spring Training internship through the collaboration of PBATS and Japan Baseball Athletic Training Society (JBATS). The program allowed Japanese athletic training students enrolled in both the states and in Japan to experience the professional baseball setting.

JBATS and Seattle’s Head Athletic Trainer Rick Griffin organized the first internship program back in 1995, and this marked the 23rd year. By far this is one of the largest international program even among NATA. There have been 119 interns so far, with one of its first participants back in 1995 being the Head Athletic Trainer of Japan’s 2017 WBC team. For the past 22 years, interns participated with various Arizona teams. This year the Mariners, Royals, Padres, and Rangers took on the JBATS interns. Additionally, the program expanded to Florida for the first time. Tampa Bay Rays took on interns under their wings, including myself and another student from Japan.

During this internship, I was an undergraduate athletic training student at Ohio State and my previous clinical rotations included basketball, football, soccer, and ice hockey. This was my first baseball and professional sport exposure. The environment was unfamiliar and there were countless things that I have never seen before. I was eager to learn as much as possible in the short two-week time frame, as this was a rare opportunity. We observed both the Major League and the Minor League side and interacted with the sports medicine staffs.  The athletic trainers were all very friendly and helpful; they shared their professional experiences and taught a variety of clinical skills and topics, including rehabilitation/maintenance programs, modality use, acute care, and current research. The amount of information I learned daily was incredible and it was essential to write down notes of what I observed at the end of the day.

Two weeks flew by fast and the internship concluded, and I flew back to Columbus to finish my degree and graduate. My experience interning with the Rays was phenomenal. This spring training opportunity sparked a huge interest for the baseball setting and I was most impressed by the work ethic of the athletic training staff. Their passion for the profession was evident through the amount of diligence, endurance, and leadership exhibited through their everyday tasks.  They exemplified excellent mentorship ability and were great role models. I have great respect for the staffs I aspire to become an athletic trainer with such devotion to the profession.

Shortly after the internship, I accepted an opportunity for a Summer internship with the Rays. I was thrilled to return to Florida, this time as an ATC. As a young professional, I believe the best method to grow is to surround myself with excellent role models. Seek help from them if needed, and continue to learn. I am confident that this Summer internship with the Rays will encourage my professional growth and passion for the profession.