Kansas City Royals Athletic Trainer Nevan Dominguez shares his experience working at the Kansas City Royals Dominican Republic academy from 2018 – 2019. He has since been promoted to the Royals AZL affiliate for the 2020 season. He was the first assigned certified athletic trainer at the academy.
Written by: Nevan Dominguez | Kansas City Royals
Saludos. I am currently the ATC for the AZL Royals after spending the past two seasons (2018 & 2019) as the Head Athletic Trainer at the Kansas City Royals Dominican Academy. Throughout my time in the position, I experienced challenges and opportunities to develop both professionally and personally, while simultaneously experiencing and living in a new culture. I will always remember the time that I spent in the Dominican Republic.
Living and working in the DR was an opportunity to get a reality check and insight into where Latin players come from, and in many cases, the humble living conditions that not only their families have, but a large portions of the whole population.
My initial thoughts upon being offered and accepting the position was honestly, a little bit of uncertainty. This was to be expected as someone who up to that point in my life, had never been out of the country. Those nerves were soon quelled however upon arriving in the country and getting into work the following day to find that the job description is the same as any other affiliate: Athletic Trainer. There was a clean and well-equipped training room and gym and most of the staff were bilingual in Spanish and English (I knew almost no Spanish at that point) which no doubt helped me adjust.
As a medical staff we faced many challenges. These included: developing a plan of care, creating the policies and procedures of our new athletic training room (the academy underwent remodeling and expansion at the time) and educating all the new players (2018 was the first year that our academy would be fielding two teams in the DSL). Once we felt that we had a solid plan in place, we were able to focus on what was most important to us: player health and relationships.
One of the most important qualities an ATC can have while working in the Dominican is the ability to adapt to less than ideal conditions. Some days the water will be turned off for several hours. Other days it would be the electricity. This gives an opportunity to handle stressful situations other than those on the field events that we as Certified Athletic Trainers respond to. I found that these occurrences gave me a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life, even something as simple as a freshly brewed cup of Café Santo Domingo (highly recommended). Our profession is innately a rewarding job but being able to learn to operate in the often times, less than ideal workspace gives immense satisfaction.
The country is extremely beautiful. Although the traffic is quite shocking at first, you learn to adjust. There are great restaurants, amazing beaches and an immense amount of colonial history of the early island settlers. Being able to visit local destinations during off days or just go to the beach in Punta Cana and have a Presidente (arguably the DR’s most delicious export, look it up) was a great way to get a sense of the culture and really appreciate where you are. And once I was able to pick up some basic Spanish and some of the local slang, it opened up new conversations with the players and staff and was a tool that I utilized (and still do) to develop relationships and attain important information that may have otherwise been missed.
Overall, the experience gave me valuable insight to where Latin professional baseball players grow up and come from and challenged me to become a better and more adaptable athletic trainer. I will never forget those two years and am thankful for the opportunity to live and work in the Dominican Republic.