Global Reach

July 13, 2018

The impact of athletic training and exercise science can reach across borders, as nine students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Health and Kinesiology recently found. According to a release from the school, the group of exercise science and athletic training students traveled to Managua, Nicaragua in March to work with soccer coaches and young athletes.

“Global engagement allows students the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures in an immersive setting,” Adam Rosen, PhD, ATC, Assistant Professor and Director of the Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training at UNO, said. “Particularly, for our students, who aspire to be future healthcare providers in sports medicine, this was a tremendous experience to allow them to utilize the skills they have learned in the classroom and implement them in a unique setting on the soccer pitch [field] in Nicaragua.” 

While on the trip, the UNO group worked with athletes from 17 local high school teams. The aim was to help them incorporate injury prevention techniques into regular training. The UNO students and faculty members shared information about basic first-aid for injuries, heat illness and hydration, sports performance and nutrition, and concussions and head injuries. One of the focal points was the FIFA 11+ injury prevention protocol that includes 15 strength, balance, plyometric, and running exercises.

“This experience allowed me to work hands-on with young athletes and their coaches to teach them proper warm-up and stretching mechanics to better avoid injuries during sports,” Monica Barajas, an exercise science student, said. “When coaches came to us, students, with questions about proper technique or asked our opinion, is when I realized the importance of exercise science and athletic training not only in the United States, but in other countries. I was a witness that knowledge has no barriers. Sharing culture and knowledge with the people of Nicaragua was amazing.”

Along with the fieldwork and clinics, the UNO group visited local highlights, watched a soccer match, attended a Nicaraguan Major League Baseball game, and visited the U.S. Embassy. The trip had a lasting impact on all the students.

“I was reminded that sports, and especially soccer, are a universal language,” Christine Center, an athletic training master’s student, said. “I was able to connect with many coaches and athletes that we worked with, although I did not speak the same language with them, we shared and connected in our expression of love and play of soccer. I am blessed to be pursuing a degree that can touch people in more ways than I originally imagined.”

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