In-Depth Look: Assistant Athletic Trainer for a Major League Baseball Team
Masai Takahashi, ATC is an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team.
How long have you been practicing as an AT?
I became a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer (AT) in 1999 and practiced part time as an AT while completing my education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). After I graduated UNLV, I gained experience in the sports medicine profession as a strength and conditioning graduate assistant at the University of Mississippi and as an intern for a Japanese professional baseball team and the New York Yankees organization in Tampa, Florida. In 2003, I started my first full time position as an AT for a Las Vegas high school. That was when I really began my career as an AT.
Describe your typical day:
During spring training in February and March, my typical day starts very early. I arrive at the stadium at 5:00am. I work out for an hour, then take a quick shower and eat breakfast. We have medical team meeting at 6:30am every morning. Athletic Trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists and strength and conditioning coaches are all a part of the meeting. Afterwards, we start treatment at 7:00am before practice begins at 10:00am. Practice games normally start at 1:00pm almost every day. By the time we finish, it is usually after 5:00pm when we leave the stadium.
During regular baseball season, I get to the stadium at around noon. We have medical meeting at 12:30pm and treatment starts at 1:00pm. Since we have hands on manual therapy approach, we treat players throughout the day. The ATs on staff take turns to cover pitchers throwing program and batting practice that usually starts around 4:00pm. Games normally start at 7:00pm, and we finish our work at midnight. For out-of-town games, we travel right after the game and throughout the night. We may not arrive to the next city until 4:00am or 5:00am in the morning.
What do you like about your position?
I came to United States from Japan when I was 20 years old. At that time, I thought gaining a position with a professional sport in the United States was way beyond what I could hoping for, so every day is like living in a dream for me.
In terms of our profession, the Major League Boston Red Sox medical team consists of several orthopedic surgeons, several internists, 4 Athletic Trainers, 2 physical therapists, 2 massage therapists and 2 strength and conditioning coaches. I really like my position because it exposes me to so many different professions in the sports medicine field on daily basis, and it allows me to learn and exchange ideas. Inside the medical team, we all have the same voice, so it is a very dynamic and exciting setting.
Working with a professional team also means I am able to travel to many different cities which is exciting.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
Practicing in professional baseball is very tough physically and mentally. Taking care of your own body is very important for you to be effective and have energy to go through everything involved in this position.
One of our massage therapists told me to take care of my body 11 years ago when I was promoted to the Major League for the first time. Back then, I really did not take that advice seriously. Now, I live by his words. My advice to a young ATs is to take care of your own body, so you can continue to help others.