By Jeff Murphy, April 30, 2020
Kota Nakano, a University of Central Missouri athletic training major from Japan, gets an insider’s look at his chosen profession during an internship at the Kansas City Royals spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona. Nakano was awarded the internship with the Royals as part of the Japanese Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association and the MLB Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association partnership.
WARRENSBURG, MO – Although many people are missing the professional baseball season
due to the COVID-19 outbreak, at least one University of Central Missouri student
had a rare opportunity to experience professional baseball briefly this spring from
an insider’s perspective. He not only gained valuable hands-on experience in his chosen
career path, but he also got to interact with UCM alumni who have found their niche
in professional baseball.
Kota Nakano, a junior in the athletic training program, was awarded an internship
with the Kansas City Royals. As part of the Japanese Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association
and the MLB Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association partnership, Nakano
was able to spend more than two weeks in Surprise, Arizona, working with invited Japanese
Athletic Trainers and the Kansas City Royals Athletics Training and Strength and Conditioning
staffs during their spring training season.
While in Arizona, Nakano got to interact with all of these healthcare providers, while
also getting the opportunity to perform many of the same tasks that an athletic trainer
would do with any professional baseball team, according to Brian Hughes, director
of the Athletic Training Program in the School of Nutrition, Kinesiology and Psychological
Science. This includes tasks such as treatments and rehabilitation, injury management,
and game/field set-up.
Nakano also had an opportunity to visit with UCM alumni who have found athletic training
professional positions with the team. Among them is Dylan Wilson, a 2014 graduate
of the athletic training program who is the head athletic trainer for the Royals Urban
Youth Academy (UYA) in downtown Kansas City. Wilson serves as a preceptor for the
athletic training program while students are assigned to work with him at the UYA.
Another UCM alumnus, Danny Accola, who graduated in 2014, serves as the head athletic
trainer at the Royals spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona. In that capacity,
he works with several of the Royals' rookie league team members.
Nakano becomes the third international student to be enrolled in the athletic training
program to benefit from this rare internship opportunity. Two other UCM students who
previously participated were Takao Iwano, a 2016 graduate, and Yoshihiro Kojima, who
earned his degree in 2018.
UCM has another strong connection with the Royals through head strength and conditioning
coach Luiz Perez, who is a former Mules baseball player, and a 2007 graduate of UCM.
Early this spring, a junior international student from Japan, Kota Nakano, center, met with two University of Central Missouri athletic training program alumni, Dylan Wilson left, and Danny Accola, at the Kansas City Royals spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona. Nakano was awarded an internship with the Royals as part of the Japanese Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association and the MLB Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers' Association partnership. Both Wilson and Accola work for the Royals in athletic training positions.