Twenty-five yards out, off the right post and into the back of the net. That’s how a striker for the U.S. Women’s National Team, who cannot be named due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), scored her first goal after being out for seven long months with an ankle injury.
Walking off the pitch that day, the famous player turned and joked to the athletic trainer who had taped her left foot before the match, “You’re gonna have to tape my ankle for the rest of my games.”
The athletic trainer laughed in appreciation of the compliment from one of the most popular female players in the world.
This was back in 2014 at a U.S. Women’s Soccer camp where the host nation, the U.S., tied France 2-2. The trainer who had taped the recovering player’s ankle is now taping athletes at Goshen College: Dr. Erica Albertin.
On most weekdays, Albertin can be found in the training room at the Recreation-Fitness Center at GC. Keeping her company is Emily Osborne, her newly appointed assistant athletic trainer, along with one or two student trainers who are eager to learn all they can from the highly qualified head athletic trainer.
When the student athletes start flooding in to prepare for the day’s practice, Albertin and her team spring into action.
“I really enjoy it when all the athletes come in,” Albertin said, “because you really have to multi-task and there’s a whole bunch of different personalities.”
For the majority of the day, Albertin is checking her budget, taking stock, cleaning and recording data from the previous day’s exercises and treatments with athletes. At 3:00, one hour before the practices begin, more and more athletes trickle in, all fighting for the trainer’s attention.
It is at this point that the training room may appear to be in a complete state of chaos. Athletes from a variety of sports and teams sprawl out on the tables, ready to have their ankles taped or apply heat pads to prevent injuries. The occasional yelp can be heard as they drip the scalding water on themselves when removing the pads from the heated container where they are kept.
Water jugs are being filled up to bring out to practice. More screams can be heard as the hose pipe comes to life and sprays the entire room with a cold sheet of water.
Albertin is usually sitting and watching through her office window when this is about to occur. After witnessing it many times before, she now likes to predict the moment.
“Here goes another one of those rookies who’s about to spray the room,” Albertin says, as Alyson Prigge, a sophomore basketball player, heads over to fill up an ice-bath.
With a total of 254 student athletes at Goshen, the training room can be a busy place.
“The biggest strength of being an athletic trainer is that I’m able to stay calm in most situations,” Albertin said.
Although the training room may appear to be a zoo to the common bystander, Albertin runs a tight ship. Athletes sign in and most know exactly what they need to do and get to work on treatment. The rest wait patiently before being seen to by either Albertin or Osborne.
Albertin came to Goshen in August 2016 from her previous position as the head athletic trainer at Dominican University, an NCAA Division III school based in Chicago.
“We [Albertin and her husband Matt] decided to move to Goshen because we love the small school environment,” she said. “I was commuting for 2 hours in Chicago. I didn’t want to commute that long, especially being newly married.”
Now at Goshen, Albertin’s priority is the athletes’ well-being.
“We always try to make them feel they get the personalized attention they need, even if there’s 50 to 70 people in here at a time,” she said. “We have a good community in here.”
This community feeling has been established through Albertin’s sense of humor and positive relationship with the athletes.
“She’s a really nice person to be around because she cares about you on and off the field,” said Caitlin Hughey, a senior who plays on the women’s soccer team.
“She’s caring in a witty way; you know she cares,” said Alyssa Arella, a sophomore player. “She’s an uplifting person.”
Albertin has many future goals in continuing to shape the culture of athletic training at Goshen. One main focus is patient care, especially “staying up to date with education and being cutting edge with our treatments, rehab and approach. I don’t like icing people and sending them on their way.”
Along with this challenge, Albertin is getting ready to face her biggest yet: motherhood.
“I’m having a little boy, I think, unless the doctors are wrong,” she said. “It’s been fascinating being pregnant and being full-time. You have to have a really good support network. Being hormonal, I’d probably just lose it if I didn’t.”
Osborne will continue to be here during Albertin’s maternity leave, but Albertin plans to work right up until her due date of November 23rd.
Returning to work, she said, is still up in the air.
“I haven’t really figured it out yet, but [I] think [I’ll come back] maybe January,” Albertin said. “It’ll be a challenge not being around work. I just enjoy my work setting.”