Called Up to the Pros

October 25, 2018

Sometimes, the right connection can open a big door. That’s what happened this summer for Jeffrey Haft, MS, LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer at Mercyhurst University.

According to a recent article in the school’s student newspaper, The Merciad, Haft was serving as the Erie County delegate to the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society a few years ago when he met John Norwig, MEd, ATC, the Head Athletic Trainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the two kept in touch. Last summer, when Norwig was looking for someone to cover training camp for a Steelers athletic trainer on maternity leave, he thought of Haft. Since working with professional athletes is his ultimate career goal, Half didn’t need to think long before jumping at the opportunity.

And what was it like? For starters, Haft found the Steelers players polite, appreciative, and, well, professional.

“Everyone said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and acted with professionalism in every aspect of their career,” Haft said, adding that the players “truly appreciated the work that we were doing on them and for them.”

Haft noted one big difference in working with professional athletes is that they had their eye on the future when thinking about their health, unlike his college athletes. In the athletic training room at Mercyhurst, he usually finds players focused on how their bodies are faring contest to contest, while the Steelers were thinking about how to stay in the game for years to come.

Much of the work he did with the Steelers will translate perfectly to the college setting, however. He says he brought back a wealth of new knowledge and experience that he’s eager to integrate into his job.

“I have a notebook full of stretching, evaluation and rehabilitation techniques and tips to implement into my own skill set and share with our staff and students,” he explained.

For other athletic trainers looking to land a similar professional opportunity, Haft has some advice.

“Network as much as you can,” he said. “Strive to become the best athletic trainer that you can and to be better than you were the day before.” 

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