Allie Smith and Aldo Rodriguez move around coolers after a game. Photo by Trevor Wilt

Athletes constantly need the attention of a trainer in order to remain healthy and competitive. Cue students such as Aldo Rodriguez and Allie Smith.

Rodriguez and Smith are a part of the athletic training program at Charlotte and for the past two years they have been assigned to a different team or school each semester. The two students are both working with the baseball team this season.

After an injury during his soccer career at Pfeiffer University, Rodriguez became interested in athletic training.

“When I was doing my rehab with the athletic trainer, they made it a lot easier to get back on the field. At first I hated the injury, it was terrible. He just made the process easier,” Rodriguez said.

Smith drew inspiration from her love for sports and from her big in her sorority when it came time to choose a concentration.

“We got to the point where our advisors were telling us to decide which path we wanted to take. I looked into both options and sports are more involved with athletic training than exercise science, so I applied,” Smith said.

The program is very competitive, as only 21 students were accepted in their class – which is high compared to other years.  The clinicals the students are placed in consist of local high schools and colleges, including Charlotte athletics. Combined, the duo of Smith and Rodriguez have done it all.

While the circumstances of their job might be unfortunate, it allows the two a chance to shine.

“Our jobs aren’t necessarily exciting unless someone gets hurt, which is very unfortunate. I don’t want my athletes to get hurt, but occasionally they do. That’s when our adrenaline gets going,” Smith said.

Being placed in baseball was a new experience for Rodriguez who never paid attention to the sport prior to his clinical.

“I had never really watched baseball before this, but it’s definitely growing on me,” Rodriguez said. “It’s different with baseball. With all of the other sports, like football and lacrosse, it’s more acute injuries like if someone gets hit or tackled. Here it’s more overuse stuff, it’s more maintenance on their arms as opposed to someone getting hit on the knee and hurting their knee.”

Smith, on the other hand, has always had a love for baseball.

“I love watching baseball, baseball is my sport,” Smith said.

Seeing a player through a rehabilitation process and having them return to play is what makes what they do important.

“It’s going through an entire rehab program with someone and watching them finally return to whatever sport it is. I got a really good experience doing that with women’s soccer. I worked with one of the athletes for eight weeks and I got to watch her return to play. It happened to be one of the tournament games and it was just fantastic to watch her comeback,” Smith said.

After athletic training helped get him back on track, Rodriguez is trying to do that for others.

“I want to do what that trainer did with me and work with athletes when they’re hurt, when they’re down and they feel terrible and get them back on the field and watch them perform the way they can,” Rodriguez said.

Both Smith and Rodriguez will be graduating in a few weeks. Rodriguez will head out for the west coast and complete a two-year internship for the Seattle Seahawks.  Smith is still unsure of what she will do after her time in Charlotte.

Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.