Athletic Training students join the Big Leagues

Faulkner, Martin and Oates working with professional teams

May 8, 2012

Shown, from left, are Seth Faulkner, Keegan Martin and Robbie Oates.

Shown, from left, are Seth Faulkner, Keegan Martin and Robbie Oates.

Three Wilmington College students are joining the Big Leagues now that school is out for the summer.

WC’s acclaimed program in athletic training/sports medicine placed three of its top students in internships with major professional sports teams.

Seniors Seth Faulkner and Keegan Martin are joining the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, respectively, while newly graduated Robbie Oates will spend the next year with Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals.

Faulkner’s appointment as an intern renews a tradition of WC having at least one intern annually with the Bengals that goes back 35 years to when Paul Sparling, the Bengals’ long-time head trainer, was an athletic training student at WC.

“Paul was our first intern with the Bengals and we’ve had (at least) one every year since,” said Larry Howard, professor of athletic training and director of the College’s program, noting that Sparling is one of the National Football League’s most highly regarded head trainers.

“He’s been with the team for 34 years,” he added. “We’ve sent Paul such outstanding student trainers that he’s kept taking them.”

Howard said WC “got its foot in the door” with the Reds when WC alumnus Nick Kenney had an internship with the ball club in the 1990s. Kenney went on to be assistant trainer with the Reds and Cleveland Indians, and, for the past two seasons, has been the Kansas City Royals’ head trainer.

Kenney, a 1994 graduate, was named baseball’s top head trainer after last season.

Martin has been working with the Reds a few days a week since early April and will soon work full time with the team since he finished his junior year last week.

“One of the impressive parts of Wilmington’s AT program is the relationship it has with the Reds and Bengals,” Martin said. “I was hoping I’d have a shot at an internship with one of them.”

He is the ninth WC intern with the Reds since Kenney held that position, Howard said.

Oates, who passed his National Certification Examination this spring, is Wilmington’s first intern with the Royals and, no doubt, Wilmington’s program wishes to start a tradition in Kansas City at least as long as Kenney is with the organization.

While Martin and Faulkner have another year of college and will work with the Cincinnati teams over the next year, Howard said the Royals prefer to have interns that are fresh out of college. Indeed, they often ultimately will hire their most highly regarded interns as full-time assistant trainers with their minor league ball clubs.

“Robbie, Seth and Keegan all possess a good work ethic and represent the College well,” Howard said. “They’re also great students.”

WC’s first athletic training student, Russell Miller, Class of 1966, started this tradition of graduates going to professional sports teams. He was head trainer for the Detroit Tigers during his illustrious career in sports medicine.

In addition to Sparling and Kenney, Wilmington College athletic training graduates hold positions with professional baseball teams raging from the Dayton Dragons to the Florence Freedom and Quad City River Bandits.