By: Rachel Wheeler
Assistant Athletic Trainer

My view of the Grand Canyon from the plane

I have to say this really is one of my favorite parts about my job. The ability to travel to different places, whether in state, out of state, or abroad, is fantastic.  The opportunity to see and experience new places and cultures has always been a passion of mine.  I would love to be able to work overseas as an athletic trainer, or “physio” as other countries call them, but there’s a lot of planning to be done before that can happen.  In the meantime I am perfectly happy settling for excursions with my teams, and this winter gave me a great opportunity to do just that.

Well I’m going to throw this out there first; I’ve never been west of Minnesota. And by west of Minnesota I mean the only “western” states I’ve been to are Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. I’ve been to Europe twice and Africa once but haven’t managed to get to the Midwest or West Coast of my native country!

The strip was everything i expected

Our wrestling team set its sights on Las Vegas this year for the Desert Duals hosted at the Flamingo Hotel.  We flew out of DC on a redeye Saturday morning which was great considering by the time we got to west coast time it was still 9:30am.  The bad part of this was my decision to pull my first all nighter since college then leave for DC at midnight (by car) and get to the airport by 3:30am to fly out at 5:30am.  In my head I was going to sleep on the plane ride and be rested and ready to go once we landed in Nevada…that didn’t work out so well. I ended up sleeping for about 45 minutes total and had to consume an absurd amount of caffeine to keep my eyes open come mid afternoon. I think I finally adjusted to the time change the morning we came back! Regardless of my internal clock being off, it was my first trip to Sin City so I was excited to see the strip in person. The hotels were just as gaudy and fantastic as I’d hoped, and the people-watching was phenomenal! I even tried my hand at gambling and found out fast that 3 card Poker is NOT my game. I did a bit better at blackjack but still ended up in the red for the weekend. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time! All in all it was a wonderful experience and I am still so happy that I am finally able to say I’ve been out west.

My second trip this year was down to Miami, Florida with the men’s and women’s swimming teams. I was fortunate enough to go with them on last year’s training trip to Jacksonville, but I have to say Miami in late December/early January sounds much more appealing! No offense to the city of Jacksonville, but the difference between 30-50 degrees and rainy versus 80 degrees and sunny when you’re at an outdoor pool most of the day is exponential! Needless to say I had high expectations for Miami’s weather and fun potential.

Ahhhh Miami. How I love thee.

Our hotel was in Bal Harbour in northern Miami Beach and right on the ocean. I really think there is nothing better than waking up and falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. It immediately makes me think of vacations, relaxation, paradise, and warm weather! We spent a lot of our days at the pool back on the mainland, but we had a few hours in between practices each day for free time. So basically it was get off the bus, shove some food in your mouth for lunch quickly, and book it out to the beach to catch some early afternoon sun. I even ventured in the ocean most days which was chilly but refreshing.  We took a trip as a team down to South Beach on New Years Eve day to spend some time shopping, exploring and eating great food. We also found a way to get tickets to a Miami Heat game on New Year’s Day.  Both evenings were a ton of fun and a wonderful chance to see some of what Miami had to offer away from our hotel. I know I definitely could have stayed a few more days down there basking in the sun!

It’s these kinds of opportunities that make working in athletics such an enjoyable aspect of life. Both trips exposed me to something new and different that I wouldn’t have gotten to experience back home!

P.s. The next team going on a trip anywhere tropical, warm or on a beach, I’m calling first dibs on being the athletic trainer to travel with you!!!


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