Clarksville, Ark.-Lacey Mainer has to pinch herself sometimes these days to make sure she is not dreaming.
The 2012 University of the Ozarks graduate just completed her first year in the athletic training master’s program at the University of Arkansas. As part of the program, this summer she is working as an athletic training intern for the LA Galaxy, a Los Angeles-based professional men’s soccer team that competes in the 19-team Major League Soccer.
It is the ideal job for Mainer, who was a three-year starter for the Lady Eagles’ soccer program from 2009-2011.
“Working with a professional sports team is surreal to say the least,” Mainer said. “From the athletes to the coaches and medical staff, the Galaxy is a superior soccer club. Contrary to what I had in mind before coming here, everyone is down to earth and welcoming. It really a classy group of guys.”
Mainer started her internship with the Galaxy in mid-May and she will work with the team until she has to report back to UA for the start of the college football season on August 1. After a couple of weeks of getting acclimated to her internship, she has jumped right in to her duties.
“Basically, I assist with preparing the athletic training room so the athletes can come in and get what they need before and after their training session,” she said. “The athletic trainers are really invested in making sure I have a great hands-on learning experience while I’m here.”
Mainer said she first became interested in a career in athletic training while she was an athlete at Ozarks.
“Being on the soccer team, I spent a little time with Ozarks’ athletic trainer Chad Floyd,” Mainer said, “Watching what he did with injured athletes really struck an interest with me. Being involved with sports and helping athletes seemed like the perfect combination.”
Mainer, originally from Branch, Ark., worked as a student-assistant with Floyd at Ozarks for several years. She credits that experience as well as the academic rigors of Ozarks with helping prepare her for graduate school.
“Ozarks definitely helped prepare me for graduate school and this internship position,” she said. “I felt like I had a really good base coming into the master’s program as I was taking some classes that were really similar to what I took at Ozarks. Of course, working in the athletic training room with Chad was beyond helpful. He taught me a lot of the basics and about the profession in general. I felt really confident in what I was doing when I started at the U of A last May.”
“Without Chad Floyd, I wouldn’t have been accepted into my graduate program, let alone be working with LA Galaxy. He is a great mentor and the best at what he does. To be as respected and trusted as he is by his athletes, staff, and the athletic training community is quite the accomplishment.”
Floyd, who serves as the scholarship committee chair for the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association (AATA) this past year, had the honor of presenting Mainer with an AATA Graduate Scholarship for $750 during the organization’s annual awards banquet in April.
“I was thrilled to be able to present the scholarship to Lacey,” Floyd said. “It’s been great to watch her go from developing an interest in athletic training at Ozarks to going on to graduate school and then getting this internship. I know that she would love to pursue a career as an athletic trainer in soccer, so this is a perfect internship for her.”
Floyd went on to say that Mainer’s experience at Ozarks was unique.
“I frequently have students approach me about their interest in athletic training,” said Floyd. “Lacey is the only student who has taken this career seriously and completed every step necessary to get to where she is today. She has created opportunities and taken advantage of every resource. Lacey is an outstanding student and individual. She has a strong work ethic and a passion for athletic training. She was a very valuable asset to me for the two years I worked with her and it was almost like having an assistant athletic trainer on staff.”
Mainer said her short-term goal in the profession is to become “the best athletic trainer I can be and not lose sight of what I value most about the profession.”
“I want to always put the athletes first and make sure they receive the best care possible,” she said. “If I can do those things, then I’ve done well for myself. My dream job is to work with athletes who are just as passionate about their sport and success as I am about athletic training. That’s the best kind of attitude to work with.”
After completing her master’s degree at UA, she hopes to return to Major League Soccer.
“Maybe I’ll become the first female head athletic trainer in the league one day,” she said. “That would be wild.”