After completing his Bachelor of Science in athletic training at Southeast in 2015, Baker, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Oklahoma. But he always had his eyes set on working on the NFL gridiron.
His dreams came true this past summer when he was offered a seasonal assistant athletic trainer position with the New York Jets. Working with the Jets, he is responsible for athlete treatment and rehabilitation, covering practices and workouts, traveling to all home and away games, and various administrative duties around the athletic training room.
On working with the New York Jets:
What excites me about being an athletic trainer is getting to work with athletes to help them prepare for and get back to doing what they love. My favorite part about my job is getting to take an athlete that has been limited by an injury through the process of healing so they can get back to participating in the sport that they love.
Working in the NFL is drastically different than working in college in some ways, but very much the same in others. There are different rules and regulations, and, at the end of the day, the NFL is a business as opposed to a university. However, you are still providing medical care for and building relationships with your patients just as you would in any other setting.
On pursuing his passion for sports and helping others:
Working as an athletic trainer in the NFL is something that I have dreamed about since I was at Southeast. Combining my passion for sports and my desire to be a healthcare provider, this career was perfect for me and I have not looked back since. From the very beginning, this was a major goal at the top of my career bucket list.
My future career goals are to become an assistant athletic trainer at a Division 1 college or with another professional team and ultimately become a head athletic trainer and run my own athletic training room.
On his favorite moments as an athletic trainer:
One of my favorite memories of my time at Southeast is from my first year in the athletic training program when I was working with the Redhawks football team and they played in St. Louis (Missouri) at Busch Stadium against Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. It was such a cool experience to be in that environment.
One of my most memorable moments thus far as an athletic trainer is from my time as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Oklahoma (OU). In my second year working at OU, we were lucky enough to make the Rose Bowl in California. Getting to work that game and be a part of that was a very rare experience that I will cherish going forward in my career.
On how Southeast prepared and influenced his career path:
My time at Southeast prepared me tremendously for my career in athletic training. The extensive coursework and preparation from the instructors and preceptors in the various clinical rotations gave me the level of preparation I needed to move on to work as a certified athletic trainer in the NFL.
On advice for Southeast students:
Whether you’re a student, an intern, or a working professional, never skip out on the life outside of work and school. At the end of the day, the job or career is just a small part of your life.
For Southeast athletic training students, it is important to make connections everywhere you go. I am still in contact with many athletic training clinical instructors, preceptors, and professors from my time at Southeast. Having those relationships has helped get me to where I am today.