In almost every degree program, there is a required internship opportunity for students - this allows students to obtain experience in his or her field of study. It also provides an opportunity for the student to network with people in their chosen field. In some cases, students are able to get a foot in the door before they graduate. For some students, an internship can be a very nerve racking experience.
Well, not for Tyler Muench, a senior majoring in athletic training, who received the chance of a lifetime. Muench was contacted by the 2011 Super Bowl Champions the Green Bay Packers to fulfill his internship requirements.
"After a couple of phone interviews with the assistant and head athletic trainers, they called and told me that they were optimistic about having a 2011 preseason and wanted me to fill their last preseason internship spot," said Muench. "I was in shock when they told me; I mean it was the opportunity of a lifetime."
Muench worked closely with his advisor Dr. Lee Burton, associate professor of physical education, wellness and sport science, to land the internship. Burton has connections to the NFL, which is one of the reasons Muench came across the desk of the Packers. Once Muench knew he was in, next were the steps to getting him there and putting him to work.
"They flew me from Richmond out to Green Bay, Wis. on July 22, where they had housing for me," said Muench. "I have never seen an entire city that had no diversity in NFL team selection, everyone loved the Packers. When I first pulled into Lambeau Field that is when it really hit me, this is the big time. It was a very surreal feeling for me."
Muench also said that he knew it was the big time when he saw all of the Vince Lombardi trophies (the trophy awarded to the winner of the championship game) as he was walking through the player's entrance. Once he arrived he had a day to take it all in, and the second day he hit the ground running.
"The first week was really just cleaning the training room, familiarizing myself with the facilities and what was to be expected of me, getting acquainted with other staff and coaches," said Muench. "After the lockout ended the athletes started to pour in. There was a ton of paperwork and tests that these athletes had to be put through before camp was to start. One of the main tests they use on all their athletes is the FMS system that was created by Dr. Burton."
FMS stands for functional movement screen, which is designed to identify essential movement weaknesses and then recommends corrective strategies to improve them. It has been successfully implemented in numerous professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) and various branches of the military. Muench was at an advantage, being very familiar with the test and even using it on some of the athletes here at Averett.
"We tested all the players - Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, etc.," said Muench. "I was putting these pro-athletes through the same tests that I have put our own AU student-athletes through. It was nice to use the knowledge I have learned in the training program and apply it at the professional level."
FMS is an important process, but that's not all that Muench was involved in. Before practices he taped a lot of rookie's ankles and wrists, as well as spatting cleats (spatting is the taping of the cleat and the ankle to better support the ankle during performance). During treatment and rehab he set up players on modalities, aided with rehab exercises and observed evaluations of injuries. He was also involved in setting up the field for practices with all the proper equipment for every scenario possible.
"Practice was an event in Green Bay, thousands of people came every day to watch their practices, and it was crazy," said Muench. "I had never seen anything like it. We had to be prepared for everything, not just for safety, but for the fans as well."
This experience definitely had Muench taking in all the requirements in his area of study. He was able to see what the ends and outs of the position were like. He even got to experience some of the perks that come with the job.
"The first game I got to see was a home game vs. the Arizona Cardinals," said Muench. "I walked with the training staff out of the tunnel behind the players, it was so loud, I still get chills thinking about that experience. Looking back it was hands down the most surreal experience of my life; in only one month there I gained a lot of knowledge. The best part was that I got to work, make friends and hangout with professional athletes. I won the lottery with this opportunity."
Muench was in Green Bay until Aug. 28 and with all that he learned and experienced, he surely did hit the jackpot.
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