Athletic training students work sideline for Stanford football team
Nov. 14, 2013 - Marc Drobenko was not much of a college football fan. Basketball was his game.
That was until Drobenko, a junior athletic training major, got the opportunity to work with the Stanford University football team during preseason training camp.
"Since then, I've been following Stanford every single weekend," Drobenko said. "If I'm not watching the game, I'll be checking the score on my phone or computer."
Drobenko and Scott Ostrander, a senior athletic training major, both spent time at Stanford in August through a Quinnipiac program that matches aspiring athletic trainers with some of the top college football programs in the country. Other students spent time with gridiron teams from the Colorado, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming.
"We don't have a football team at Quinnipiac, but we can apply to be outsourced to a bigger school to work their preseason camps," Ostrander said. "It's the next best thing."
Students must apply for the program. Drobenko and Ostrander flew to California for the start of training camp on Aug. 10. Drobenko worked a full three weeks with the Cardinal football team, while Ostrander had to leave a week early due to a prior commitment.
The Quinnipiac athletic trainers worked 14-16 hour days, providing pre- and post-practice treatments and making sure the field was set up with medical equipment and water. Drobenko and Ostrander, who were joined by athletic training students from Florida, Pennsylvania and Japan, lived with the players in a campus residence hall.
"The players made the experience what it was," Drobenko said. "They were great. They respected us and trusted our clinical impressions. They treated us like the rest of the staff."
As part of the program, Quinnipiac's athletic training students get the opportunity to work the sideline at their respective football team's season-opener. Because Stanford, a Pac-12 powerhouse consistently ranked in the Top 10 nationally this season, had a first-week bye, Drobenko and Ostrander returned to the Quinnipiac and met the Cardinals for their Sept. 14 game against Army in West Point, N.Y.
"The experience made me realize I definitely want to stay in the college setting," said Ostrander, who also serves as a student-athletic trainer with the Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team. "When you watch Stanford football highlights on ESPN, you're able to say, 'Hey, I know that guy!'"
Drobenko will have one more opportunity to work at Stanford. He and Ostrander were invited to return the Cardinal's regular-season finale against the University of Notre Dame on Nov. 30. Ostrander will be with the Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team, but Drobenko plans to spend Thanksgiving break in California.
"I'm really excited to see the guys and the staff again," he said. "We had some great times. I'm excited to walk on the field and see 50,000 people there. I think it's going to blow my mind. This experience has convinced me that I'd like to be an athletic trainer on the Division-I level. I love the pressure and the bright lights."
And while basketball remains his favorite sport, Drobenko has a newfound respect for college football.
"I'm a Stanford fan," he said.