Jorge Anguiano was star-struck.
In front of him was Aaron Donald, a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, who is hailed as the best NFL player in the league. For the next six weeks, Anguiano would work alongside him as an intern for the Rams.
For the senior kinesiology student and aspiring athletic trainer, being surrounded by some of the best NFL players in the league was an unforgettable experience.
“They’re just people,” Anguiano said. “We perceive them as superstars, but they’re just like us.”
A native of Westley, California – a small farming town 15 minutes outside of Modesto, Anguiano never dreamt he would have an opportunity like this.
Anguiano was born and raised working in the fields. His father, uncles, and grandfathers are all farmers, who work hard for their livelihood.
Inspired by their work ethic and drive, Anguiano began working in the fields at 14.
“Modesto is a huge agricultural town and it’s just part of the culture here,” Anguiano said. “The weekends, holidays, summer and winter breaks, we’re working.”
It was tough work, especially during the summer months. With the heat baking the Valley floor, Anguiano and his father never skipped a beat, working Monday through Fridays, sometimes through 10-hour shifts. Out in the open fields, they tirelessly harvested crops, like tomatoes and beans, and would be out there for multiple days at a time.
Anguiano was anticipating another summer working in the fields when he got the call that changed his life.
Of the 32 NFL teams he sent his internship application to, the Rams chose him.
In action on the field
The six-week paid internship with the Rams was designed to prepare athletic training students for the expectations of professional practice in the field. In a league as competitive and fast-paced as the NFL, the experience of working with professional football players was truly one-of-a-kind.
“When I found out I got the internship, it was amazing,” Anguiano said. “I felt blessed. I felt lucky. I mean, a lot of people in our profession just hope to be in that situation; to be working with the best our field has to offer. Whether it be doctors, athletic trainers, or the best athletes in the world. Everybody wants to reach the NFL.”
From July 15 to August 31, Anguiano had the experience of a lifetime. He was assigned to work with the defensive linebackers, but ultimately went wherever he was needed; from loading equipment while traveling to helping out players in the training clinic.
Anguiano says the training clinic was his favorite part. He got to work with the likes of NFL greats like Clay Matthews, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, among others. The environment of the training clinic was warm and inviting with the players keeping the room alive with humor. At the same time, the level of professionalism was unlike anything Anguiano had ever imagined.
“This experience, the people I’ve met and the players I’ve interacted with – it’ll be in my heart forever,” Anguiano said.
As the very first Fresno State Athletic Training student to be offered the Rams internship, Anguiano felt the pressure to do well.
“I was the first one to go to the Los Angeles Rams, which was a big responsibility because if I, for any reason, happened to mess up, that’s the last call Fresno State Athletic Training students were going to get,” Anguiano said. “Luckily, I went down there and worked my heart out.”
Anguiano’s internship with the Rams was fully paid for, including lodging and traveling expenses for away games. He was paid for his work with the Rams as well, an added bonus some of his peers with other internships did not receive.
“With the money I earned over the summer, I was able to pay for some of my schooling to purchase books and supplies,” Anguiano said. “Unfortunately, my financial aid was cut, so earning this extra income was such a blessing.”
During his internship, Anguiano witnessed firsthand the serious dedication and hard work athletic trainers put into their careers and was left in awe of the individuals he aspires to be one day.
“They’re just constantly learning, constantly getting better,” Anguiano said. “Even though they’ve already graduated and have their credentials, they’re still learning how to be better in their field, putting in 15 to 17 hour days, reading case studies about player injury prevention and workload management. It’s amazing.”
Beyond the field
After working with a professional sports team, Anguiano’s outlook on education shifted. He says his internship with the Rams really motivated him to take school more seriously, as he aspires to retain the valuable knowledge he learns from Fresno State’s Athletic Training program.
“You’re placed in a situation with a fallen athlete or with a doctor that’s asking you questions about the situation and you want to be able to answer that to the best of your abilities,” Anguiano said.
He says the Rams internship gave him a better perspective of working with a professional athletics team and hopes to use what he learned on the field back at Fresno State, where he volunteers with various sports teams, including football and women’s soccer.
Some of his tasks include helping the student-athletes with pre-game stretching, running through injury prevention stretching and ensuring they are properly hydrated.
“With the teams, I try to help the student-athletes maintain their best potential,” Anguiano said. “They might be playing at 85, 95%, but I try to give them that extra percent to have them perform at their optimal level.”
In the future, Anguiano says he wants to pursue a career as an athletic trainer in the professional sports arena. He will be one step closer to that goal, thanks to a two-year fellowship he was offered with the Los Angeles Rams, which he will pursue after graduating in May 2020. This opportunity will let Anguiano showcase the knowledge and experience he has gained from Fresno State, while professionally exposing him to the network of athletic trainers in the NFL.
No matter where he goes, Anguiano will never forget where he comes from and says the culture of bulldog pride at Fresno State will always remind him of home.
“Fresno State has such a humble, loving vibe. Everybody is nice, everybody is caring,” Anguiano said. “And when Fresno State sports come around, those same people are at the dog pound, cheering their hearts out. It’s a great time.”
To learn more, visit fresnostate.edu/kinesiology.
- Blog story written by Kelsey Lyman, CHHS Student Writer
- Video produced by Mark Morales, CHHS Multimedia Student Assistant