The World Cup is underway and hours before the U.S. Men’s National Team takes the field, we wanted to provide our readers a behind the scenes look into how the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Head Athletic Trainer, Ivan Pierra has helped get the team ready!
1. Many people who go into athletic training dream of working with a professional sports team. Is working with the US Men’s National Team a dream come true for you?
It was a position that I dreamed about since I graduated having worked in the collegiate setting and then part of the 1994 World Cup. I had a position as a grad assistant athletic trainer at Cal State Fullerton and then the Head Athletic Trainer for LA Galaxy.
2. What are the moments when you think to yourself “I can’t believe I actually get paid to do this?”
Every day since I started doing this as a job.
3. The most visible role of an athletic trainer during a game is when a player gets injured. However, what is your day-to-day routine like?
Eat team breakfast, treatment-training-treatment, team lunch, treatment-training-treatment, team dinner, treatment-sleep.
4. What is something most people don’t know about your job?
We work 16 hours a day when in camp.
5. How did you work your way to the US Men’s National Team?
By assisting at the World Cup in 1994 as a volunteer athletic trainer, then as the Head ATC at LA Galaxy. I got a phone call out of the blue from US Soccer’s Manager of Sports Medicine asking me if I would be interested in a position that was going to open up. I jumped at the opportunity!
6. What was your first game in the World Cup like? Were there a lot of nerves?
It was very exciting and a moment I will never forget!! I was more excited than nervous and I knew I had to be the most composed in case of an emergency so I kept it under control.
7. What has the preparation been like for the World Cup this year for you?
It’s been very busy and a lot of administrative work goes into a World Cup. It’s very time consuming. This assures that I am prepared when all the players and staff arrive for camp.
8. How much different is game day preparation for a World Cup compared to an International Friendly?
Extremely different. The World Cup is everything you have worked for in four years and you do everything in your power to make sure nothing goes wrong. Pressure from the coaching staff is greater and the players exert themselves a lot more because of it.
9. What does it take to be a good athletic trainer? Any advice for aspiring athletic trainers who want to work in collegiate or professional sports?
To become a good ATC, I feel you need to have good knowledge in all aspects of medicine and not just athletic training. A good communicator with all types of personalities and patience. Seek out internships and volunteer work. You never know who you will impress and never burn any bridges!