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Professional baseball provides an exciting and rewarding experience for athletic trainer

Dustin Vissering, athletic trainer Hickory Crawdads, returns to the dugout after checking on a player during a game with the Lakewood Blue Claws on July 13, 2016 (Tracy Proffitt | Hickory Crawdads)

School of Kinesiology and Recreation alum Dustin Vissering ’11 earned his bachelor’s degree in athletic training. A native of East Peoria, Illinois, Vissering said it was the fine reputation of Illinois State’s athletic training program that attracted him to the field. He always enjoyed following the Peoria Chiefs baseball team growing up and was aware of ISU’s involvement with the team. He was elated to land an internship during the summer following his junior year with the Chiefs because it meant he could live at home and spend the summer working for a professional baseball team.

Vissering stayed involved with collegiate baseball while earning his masters in sports management from Western Illinois University, before completing a year stint with the Kansas City Royals in 2013. He is currently in his fourth year as athletic trainer with the Texas Rangers where he was first hired in Rookie League, and later promoted through the system to Short Season A (Spokane Indians), and now to the Low A affiliate where he serves the Hickory Crawdads in North Carolina. A typical day for Vissering on a game night begins midday when he prepares the treatment room. Players spend 1-2 hours with him doing stretches, getting taped, or receiving massages to loosen up. The next couple of hours are spent observing the pitchers stretch and throw, and watching batting practice. The team eats dinner together before receiving pre-game treatments and getting dressed for the game. Post-game, Vissering takes care of the pitchers’ arms and shoulders, and provides more elaborate treatment for anyone who may have been injured during the game. There are also injury reports to be written before the day’s end. By 11 p.m. he is ready to go home.

The most challenging aspect of Vissering’s job is that he wears many hats besides being the team athletic trainer. When the team is on the road he not only cares for health and well-being of the players, but he prepares the trip itinerary, makes hotel arrangements, arranges workouts at the gym, and takes care of food for the team. If a player is promoted or demoted, Vissering assists with the travel arrangements and prepares documents for the player to transition to their new team. Juggling these duties to make sure everything goes smoothly requires constant organization and attention to detail.

The most rewarding part of his work occurs in his capacity as an athletic trainer. Seeing a player who has been injured follow Vissering’s rehabilitation protocol, and then return to the field and excel is very satisfying. It is clear to Vissering that the countless hours spent in the classroom and in clinical settings pays off in the end when you see how the players put their trust and faith in the athletic trainers.

Vissering was voted the 2016 South Atlantic League Athletic Trainer of the Year by his peers in the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). He was also nominated and chosen by the Rangers to work as an athletic trainer in the 2016 Arizona Fall League.

Vissering’s fondest memories of ISU are from the friendships he made with the athletic training cohort and his professors, especially Kevin Laudner and Justin Stanek. His advice to new KNR alums is to, “Always go above and beyond what is expected. Treat everyone with respect and remember that there is no job that you’re too big for. Let your work speak for itself.”

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