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WC Student Athletic Trainers on Both Sidelines in Bengals-Steelers Matchup

Big-Time Internships Another Feather in the Cap of College's Prestigious Program

November 12, 2010

Kenny Marsh (left) and Jun Matsuno had student internships with the Bengals' and Steelers' athletic training staffs. They were on opposite sidelines during the Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati Nov. 8. (Photo courtesy of Larry Howard)

Kenny Marsh (left) and Jun Matsuno had student internships with the Bengals' and Steelers' athletic training staffs. They were on opposite sidelines during the Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati Nov. 8. (Photo courtesy of Larry Howard)

Against the backdrop of a national Monday Night Football audience, two Wilmington College seniors practiced their craft Nov. 8 as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in a 27-21 thriller.

For Kenny Marsh and Jun Matsuno, the opportunity to work a game between the bitter rivals on a national stage was a highlight of their internships in the National Football League.

"In a way, it's not much different than working a high school or college game — it's just more intense," Marsh said. "Because you're around people you see on TV, the Internet and Sports Illustrated, and there are 70,000 screaming fans and ESPN video cameras everywhere."

Matsuno interned with the Steelers from summer training camp through the early preseason games — so Monday’s game was his swan song — while Marsh started with the Bengals during spring mini-camp and continued full time through summer camp. Since school started, he has been attending the team’s Thursday practices and home games.

The opportunity to intern with high profile sports teams is a hallmark of Wilmington’s athletic training program. Long-time relationships with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals have led to a consistent flow of WC interns.

This year marked the first-ever time a Wilmington student has worked with the Steelers.

Matsuno, among other responsibilities, assisted in making sure ample hydration was available for players at all times, in addition to setting up the Steelers’ on-field training facilities and, on occasion, working with the team’s drug-testing program.

Pittsburgh’s interest in incorporating diversity into their training staff was beneficial to Matsuno, who comes from Japan. The Steelers have the NFL’s first female assistant trainer, Ariko Iso, who also happens to be of Japanese descent.

“When I was in Japan, she was in the news when she was hired by the Steelers,” said Matsuno, who is the recipient of a $1,000 NFL Ethnic Minority Scholarship.

A graduate of a university in Japan, Matsuno felt he needed to study in America to fulfill his career interest.

“I wanted to be an athletic trainer so I came to the United States,” he said, noting his initial enrollment at a large, major university did not work out, so he discovered WC’s highly regarded athletic training program.
When it was time for him to find an internship as part of his academic requirements, a perfect storm of occurrences transpired.

“I wanted to have an internship in a professional setting, especially football — that’s something I cannot experience in Japan,” he said, noting he was thrilled to learn of the Steelers’ progressive culture and Iso’s interest in securing an Asian intern.

With professional football now on his resume, Matsuno’s new team is the WC Lady Quakers basketball team, with which he is working this entire year.

Upon graduation, he wants to pursue further studies in athletic training in graduate school with an ambition to teach the discipline in Japan.

Marsh, a senior from Lima, originally attended a nearby NCAA Division III school to play football, but, since the institution did not offer athletic training, he decided to look around the Ohio Athletic Conference for a college at which he could study sports medicine and play football.

“I found out WC’s athletic training program was the largest in Ohio and, even though I started a semester late, I could still graduate on time,” he said.

Marsh also worked with players’ hydration issues and set up for games and practices, along with some of the other routine athletic training jobs like taping ankles.

But the opportunity to work with a top head trainer like the Bengals’ Paul Sparling, a 1981 WC athletic training graduate, was invaluable.

“This experience reinforces my interest in athletic training in professional sports,” Marsh said, noting that he plans to attend graduate school somewhere in the athletic training, sports and education field.

He would like to become a college-university AT or one at the professional level should the opportunity afford itself. Marsh praised the education he is receiving at WC.

“Wilmington is a small college, but its athletic training program is the biggest in the state,” he said. “You’re out working with teams, at high schools, in clinical settings, you see surgeries…. — you have experience in so many settings before you graduate. And you get to know your profs and can work with them one-on-one.

“We have alumni that are at the top of their profession,” he said in referring to Sparling and Nick Kenney ‘94, the head trainer with baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Also, Russell Miller ’66 is a retired head trainer for the Detroit Tigers.

“Just because it’s a small school doesn’t mean you can’t be a top AT in pro sports.”