Nick Tjeerdsma ’10Athletic training intern
Football fanatic Nick has a job he describes as “a blast.” A second-year athletic training intern with the Indianapolis Colts, he works with the NFL team’s full-time athletic trainers and physical therapists on everything from prevention to injury care to rehab. Game day finds him at the stadium five hours before kickoff taping players and helping them get warmed up. Watching the action from the sidelines, he’s as invested as the team. “It sucks to lose but it’s really awesome when you win,” he says.
Did you ever dream you’d be working in the NFL?
I remember in my interview to get into Northwestern’s athletic training program telling my professors that one of my goals was to work in the NFL as an athletic trainer. I might have raised a few eyebrows, but they were supportive and encouraging of that goal—and now as an intern for the Indianapolis Colts, I’m fulfilling it.
What do you love most about your job?
Just being around the players. The atmosphere is really fun. I really like working with, rehabbing and treating the guys and seeing them go from their lowest point after being injured to getting back on the field. It really makes me feel like I was a part of things when I help them get better.
How did you get interested in athletic training?
My mom’s a nurse and she told me about it. I thought it sounded like a pretty cool profession—something that involved medicine and also sports. I didn’t want to teach or coach but I knew I wanted to stay involved in athletics, so I thought athletic training would be a good fit for me. My dad ran track for Northwestern. I was recruited for football and track and ended up running track. At a lot of bigger colleges, they don’t allow athletic training students to be in a sport and do athletic training, so it was definitely a bonus that I could do the major and compete in athletics.
What is Northwestern’s athletic training program like?
I got a lot of hands-on experience because we had smaller class sizes. It was hard work, but it was fun at the same time. For clinicals we pretty much got to work with every sport. The type of learner I am, I learn by doing things—by working and applying knowledge.
Why would you recommend Northwestern to others?
There’s something about a small Christian college in terms of the quality of the education and experience you get that you’re not going to find at a big school. You might get the big-time Division I football at a big school, but I don’t think students get the hands-on experience and the one-on-one attention from certified athletic trainers like you do at Northwestern.
How did Northwestern prepare you for graduate school and your internship?
After earning my bachelor’s degree at Northwestern, which is a smaller NAIA school, I knew I wanted to get a different experience by being at a Division I or Big 10 school. Purdue offered me a graduate assistantship my senior year at NWC. Working with the Raiders’ football team my junior and senior year definitely helped me get my graduate assistantship and internship. There’s just something about working with football that you can’t duplicate because the contact in football is so much different than in any other sport. But what really prepared me was Northwestern’s athletic training program itself. With the small class sizes, you get a lot experience, and the athletic trainers are really good at pushing you to think creatively and independently—to make your own assessments and judgments.
Mark Blankers '13 Patient care representative, Lytle Medical Technologies Famington Hills, MI
Katelyn Boersma '13 Physical education teacher, Orange City Elementary School Orange City, IA
Molly Boeve '13 Physical education teacher, Hinton Community Schools Hinton, IA
Mallory Cunard '13 Personal trainer, Work It Out Fitness Missouri Valley, IA
Brianna Hobbs '13 Personal trainer, Fortitude Performance Omaha, NE
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Erin Ogden '13 Physical therapy doctoral student, Northern Illinois University DeKalb, IL
Shannon Bowar '12 Physical therapy doctoral student, Bradley University Peoria, IL
Stephen Englund '12 Stadium operations intern, Iowa Cubs Des Moines, IA
Danielle Fry '12 Exercise physiology master's student, Northern Illinois University DeKalb, IL
Ashley Hoegh '12 Personal trainer, Anytime Fitness Le Mars, IA
Derrick Moss '12 Assistant athletic trainer, Northwestern College Orange City, IA
Mike Vander Veen '12 Chiropractic doctoral student, Cleveland Chiropractic College Overland Park, KS
Courtney Wohlwend '12 Athletic trainer, Iowa Health Des Moines, IA
Jacqueline Clark '11 Athletic trainer, Institute of Athletic Medicine Minneapolis, MN
Jayme Hess '11 Residential Skills Trainer, Village NW Unlimited Sheldon, IA
Sara Solis '11 Athletic trainer, Plano Independent School District Plano, TX
Andrea Kuipers '11 Physical therapy graduate student, University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD
Logan Ogden '11 Exercise science and human performance master's student, South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
Brad Payne '11 Hitting/field instructor, Las Vegas School of Baseball North Las Vegas, NV
Corrie Rost '11 Aquatics director, YMCA LeMars, IA
Justin Rost '11 Athletic training master's student, Wayne State College Sioux City, IA
Will Schroeder '11 K-8 physical education and health teacher Saipan
Kristin Tigges '11 Chiropractic assistant, Inspired Chiropractic Sioux Falls, SD
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