Viroqua’s Ryan Maurer has a unique claim to fame that has reflected as well on himself as on the organization with whom he is linked.
Maurer spent six weeks last summer as an athletic training intern with the Green Bay Packers. Maurer said he earned a new appreciation for both hard work and the personalities of the men and women who wear the Green and Gold for Titletown.
Maurer’s parents are Rich and Karen and they helped get the Broadcaster together with Ryan as he returned to his studies at UW-La Crosse.
What follows are the Broadcaster’s Questions & Answers with Maurer about his summer internship.
Q: What is your age, what are you studying in college and where?
A: I am 21 years old and in my senior year of the athletic training program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Q: What is the program that got you hooked up to work with the Packers? How does the program work? How did you get chosen for the internship?
A: The athletic training program at UW-L is the longest standing accredited program in the state. Most years the Packers take one intern from our program. This year they actually took 2 from La Crosse. I sent in my cover letter and resume to one of the athletic trainers with the team. A phone interview followed and then shortly after I was selected.
Q: How long did the internship last? Where did you work at in Lambeau field and at the team’s other assorted facilities? Where did you stay? How many new friends did you make due to the experience?
A: The internship lasted six weeks. I got there a week before training camp started to just get familiar with things and do a few camp prep items. We stayed with the players in the St. Norbert dorms when they were there. When the players moved out of the dorms midway through training camp the team put us up in a hotel.
We worked primarily in the athletic training room at Lambeau but we had access to much of the facility including the locker room and weight room. We also worked down at the practice fields (both the outdoor one and the Don Hutson Center). Our duties in the athletic training room consisted primarily of carrying out the player’s treatment and rehab plans for that day.
We also did a lot of grunt work like reorganizing the stockroom. In addition, we were responsible for the setup and tear down of practices and games. This was a much more involved process than I anticipated it would be. We were typically down at practice about two hours beforehand getting everything ready from a medical/hydration standpoint. I was one of six summer interns that they had this summer. We all got along well and ended up learning a lot from each other.
Q: Who did you get to know the best on the Packer staff and what was your experience like overall working with the Packers?
A: The Packers medical director is an athletic trainer and a physical therapist named Pepper Burruss. He has been in the league for around 40 years (a few with the Jets but mostly with the Packers). He is a legend in the field of athletic training. It was awesome to get to know him and hear all of his stories. He has an absolute wealth of knowledge related to sports medicine
Q: Did you have a lot of access to the players and ever have any moments when you were having conversations with players about things other than football? If so, what was it like?
A: We interacted with the players quite a bit. It was important for us to maintain our professionalism throughout the time we were there, but we still had interactions with them on a “personal level.” They really were normal guys for the most part. They share a lot of the same problems and struggles the rest of the world does.
For me, being a fan of the team, it was cool to see what the personalities of these guys was like. For example, Eddie Lacy is arguably the funniest dude on the team. Everything that comes out of his mouth makes you laugh.
Q: Do you have any single favorite personal story from your experience and if so, please describe it.
A: Randall Cobb was one of the players I really interacted a lot with. Early on in camp we started a routine where I would get his post practice ice bath ready for him before he got to the training room. This particular day it happened to be his birthday.
I was helping out another player while he was icing and he said across the training room, “Ryan, can you do me a favor?” I thought he was just gonna ask me to grab something from his locker for him, but this was not the case. I went over to him and he said “it’s my birthday but no one has sung happy birthday to me yet, would you mind doing that for me?”
It would have been impossible for me to say no to that request, so I obliged. He pulled out his phone, opened snapchat, and I sang happy birthday to him. I ended up having some other very cool interactions with him throughout camp. He was easily one of my favorite players I worked with in Green Bay. Just a very humble and genuine guy.
Q: What would you say were important things you learned along the way?
A: I definitely learned a new appreciation for hard work. I have always considered myself a very hard worker, but this internship definitely pushed me farther. We basically lived at Lambeau (which is not a terrible thing), since we put in such long hours and really only went back to St. Norbert’s or the hotel to sleep.
I also learned things as it relates to athletic training, too. I have already been able to take some of these things and apply them to my clinicals at UW-La Crosse working with the football team.
Q: Do you think you’ll have an opportunity to do such work again with the Packers? What are your career goals?
This internship allowed me to get my foot in the door, and I could apply for a season long internship if I wanted to. Right now my plans are go to physical therapy school after I graduate in May. I’m not 100 percent sure where I eventually hope to end up, but I know I want to work in sports medicine in some capacity. I love helping athletes recover from injuries and get back to doing what they love.
Q: What did your friends and family think of your experience?
A: I don’t think there’s a single internship a kid could do in the state of Wisconsin that would seem as cool to people as working for the Packers. My mom was glued to the TV during the preseason with her phone in hand trying to snap a picture of her son on the sidelines. I heard from a lot of people when I got back that they saw me on the sidelines or the field during a game.
One little boy came up to me and said “did you give Aaron Rodgers water? That’s soooooooo cool!” As school is starting back up here a lot of my friends and classmates have come up to me and said how happy they were for me that I was able to have this experience.
Q: How would you relate such an experience to your personal experience of growing up in Viroqua and in the Packer state? What was it like to be around all of the team’s many stars?
A: I am the biggest Packers fan I know. Ever since deciding to major in athletic training it has been my dream and goal to get this internship and get to work with my favorite team. So obviously this was a surreal experience for me.
Early on in camp Aaron Rodgers introduced himself to me and my fellow interns and asked what our names were and what schools we were from. It would have been easy for him to have forgotten this information. After all, we’re just lowly summer interns. This was not the case though. He remembered our names and where we were from all through camp, and would always say “hi” to us by name when we passed him in the hallways or saw him around the stadium. He’s an incredibly smart guy. He knew that the preseason game in San Francisco was the last one for many of us, so he came up to me during pre-game preparations in the training room and said “Ryan, remind me, I want to get a picture with you guys on the sideline sometime during the game.” He reminded me multiple times throughout the night, and towards the end of the third quarter he grabbed the team photographer, and then found me, and we took a picture.
I got to interact with a lot of great people in Green Bay, but Aaron was definitely one of my favorites. Besides the fact that he’s the best quarterback in the league, he’s also just a cool person to be around.