Article reposted from The Monitor
Author: Dennis Silva
As a football player at La Joya Palmview High a few years ago, Edwin Gomez became well acquainted with the athletic training room at the Lobos’ fieldhouse.
“With football comes injuries, so I was hurt a few times,” said Gomez, who graduated from UTRGV in May with a major in kinesiology. “One time I dropped a weight on my quad, and that’s where it really started. I got to know the rehab process, got to know the profession and from there I was attached. Any free time I had, I’d sneak off into the training room and learn a few things here and there.”
Gomez didn’t know it at the time, but he had found his calling. His passion for athletic training, specifically the process of helping an athlete recover back to full health, has landed him in Nashville, Tennessee. Gomez is on an athletic training internship with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, a long way from his time in Edinburg as an intern with the Vaqueros’ athletic training staff.
“Every opportunity is a great opportunity and I’m really thankful for the Tennessee Titans,” said Gomez, whose first day of camp with the Titans is Friday. “I came here to help other people get here as well. It’s not just for me. I’m trying to get this experience for my family and future colleagues from UTRGV. I’m trying to get the name out there.”
Dancing initially peaked Gomez’s interest; in high school, he danced folklórico. He earned a scholarship to dance Flamenco at the University of New Mexico, but left after a year to return home to the Rio Grande Valley after his grandfather died.
Gomez enrolled at UTRGV and got involved with its athletic training program under Jim Lancaster. For the next three years, Gomez received a first-hand tutorial on how to pay attention to detail and “never throw away the tape until you’ve used it all,” the latter a popular Lancaster adage.
Gomez worked with all sports except for soccer and worked particularly closely with the volleyball and baseball programs. Inquisitive and friendly, he was held in high regard by coaches, players and trainers. Gomez, 24, also handled a fulltime job to provide for his fiancé and daughter.
Former UTRGV athletic trainer David McDonald helped show Gomez how to apply for NFL internships in November. Athletic trainers Ashley Elwell and Andrea Chilcote assisted during the process as well.
Britt Brown, associate trainer and director of rehabilitation for the Dallas Cowboys, told Gomez about a scholarship for minorities that was available. Gomez applied and found out after spring break in March that the Titans had awarded him the scholarship.
“He is very motivated and ambitious,” said Elwell, Gomez’s supervisor with the UTRGV volleyball program. “He takes on a lot of responsibility in his personal life, but that never got in the way of things. He’s a quick learner, curious, and that goes a long way.
“Most students in internships with us don’t do these things like what Edwin is doing, so it’s refreshing when someone does. Students see it as a risk, but an opportunity like this pays off to be fearless.”
Gomez reported to Nashville on Monday. The internship lasts the entire NFL preseason; his final day is Sept. 5. His responsibilities include pre-practice rehabs, setting up and tearing down practice settings and working the sidelines during game days.
Gomez has run into running back DeMarco Murray and quarterback Marcus Mariota so far.
“I’m a little starstruck here and there,” Gomez said. “There is hope, and they’ve mentioned they (the Titans) do try and bring back seasonal interns the following year. My goal is to get to the NFL or a high-level college. I just love the grind.”
And he grinds to make a name, one Elwell feels will pay dividends for others who want to follow in Gomez’s tracks.
“A lot of kids who intern with us at UTRGV figure they’ll leave the program and just start working down here in the Valley,” Elwell said. “But it can lead to opportunities that are so much more. It’s about experiencing different places and different levels of athletics. You can learn so much more from that.”