Wheaton College Color Logo

Wheaties in the World: Anastasia Lyon

December 20, 2019

The "Wheaties in the World" MyWheaton blogs feature students' internship experiences over the past summer.

Wheaties in the World: Anastasia Lyon

Anastasia Lyon ‘21 is an anthropology and pre-med major. In this MyWheaton blog post, Anastasia shares what it’s like interning for a professional women’s soccer team.

Where was your internship? Do you think your location heavily affected your experience?
As a pre-physical therapy student who has idolized the U.S. Women’s Soccer team my whole life, I have always aimed to work with a professional soccer team in the future. I had a plan: go through undergrad, go to grad school, earn my doctorate in physical therapy, work for a professional women’s soccer team. This summer, I got a glimpse of what my life could be like in 10 years if that plan continues on to completion. I had an internship in Washington D.C. with the professional women’s soccer team, the Washington Spirit. Before this summer, I had never spent much time in D.C., so it was an awesome experience to be there for three and a half months. Having lived in Seattle for a year and then in Chicago for college, I’m glad I had the opportunity to be in a totally new place. On my days off, I was able to explore the city and the surrounding area. I got to see the Smithsonian’s showing on the Washington Monument for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I explored historically rich places such as Annapolis, the World War II Memorial, and various parts of Virginia. I went camping, hiking, and swam in the ocean. I tried hole-in-the-wall falafel restaurants and ate Chinese food at 4 a.m. after hanging out in the city all night with some friends. I saw modern art exhibits and learned about native and natural history at museums on the National Mall. I had multiple opportunities to see and experience things that I never would have been able to if I had not been in D.C. While many of these experiences were apart from my internship, they affected my summer internship experience heavily.

What were your day-to-day responsibilities?
My official role with the Spirit was as an Athletic Training Intern. I worked directly with the Head Athletic Trainer (AT) every day in the training room before and after practice and on the sidelines at games. We would arrive at 8:15 every morning and the Head AT would start preparing for players to arrive while the interns would fill ten-gallon Gatorade coolers with ice, water, and Gatorade. Once that was done, we would make sure all the field medical supplies were taken down to the field with the water. Then, we would fill two huge ice baths for post-practice recovery. All of that would be done by around 8:40 and we would then assist in the training room for treatment. Multiple players would come into the training room in the morning before practice to get various forms of treatment (massage, mobilization, adjustments, taping, etc.). Depending on the player, I could perform the treatment they needed and help them prepare for practice. During practice, I would have water at every drill to keep the players hydrated as well as getting anything the players needed throughout practice. At games, the interns did many of the same things but were also on stretcher crew. If any player got injured on the field, we would be the ones to respond if a stretcher was required. Throughout the summer, I learned various new medical skills, watched hundreds of hours of soccer, and grew in my confidence as a future medical professional. Although most of the summer was enjoyable and exciting, it wasn’t without hardship.

What was most challenging about the experience?
One of the hardest parts about the summer was having to start all my relationships from scratch. Not having a solid friend base or church community and living with new people made it difficult to relax in the new space for a long time. As time went on, I found community around me, but it took a while and I also spent a large amount of my time alone. Much of my summer was spent exploring, working out, thinking, reading, hiking, and riding my motorcycle in search of organic fruit stands in rural Maryland. As an introvert, it was nice to have the freedom to have that much time alone, but I also found myself wishing I had more people I loved with me to experience things alongside me. I have a lot of great memories of things I did by myself, but also a lot of my favorite memories are with the people I grew close to over the summer.

What was most influential to you, both for the rest of your time at Wheaton and beyond?
One of the most influential parts of working with the Spirit was the kindness of the players and staff. People often put professional athletes on pedestals, believing them to be vastly different than any of the people in their own life. It was refreshing and healthy to break down those built-up ideas and get to know the players as “normal” people with lives outside of the sport. They have soccer moms and had anxiety about exams in college. They have boyfriends or girlfriends who they had met outside of the soccer world. They like cookie dough ice cream and do not always follow a strict diet or perfect workout schedule. They listen to rap, country, classical, and R&B and they dance like nobody’s watching in the locker room before games. They have favorite books and animals and foods like the rest of us. They have career goals outside of soccer and kids and parents to take care of. They are flawed, beautiful, amazing human beings that are so much more than just professional soccer players. Seeing them be themselves each day helped to remind me that no one in this world is too far out of our reach to talk to, befriend, and love.

Do you think you'll pursue similar workplace experiences in the future? Why or why not?
After my experience with the Washington Spirit, I am excited about my future career. I love the relationships I get to build with the players when working with a team. Interacting with them every day, hearing the funny stories they tell, and being with them through the anguish of season-ending injuries pushes friendships deeper. Experiencing the highs of big wins and lows of hard losses is worth the late nights and early mornings of loading gear and doing paperwork. For me, relationships are far more important than any job that I have. If I get to pursue a career where I work with athletes every day, build relationships with them, and help keep them healthy, I’ll love every day of it.

Lastly, what was your favorite part?
Consistently, one of my favorite parts of the job was sitting with players in the training room in the morning and laughing with them about their Bachelorette aggravations. Anytime we got to hang out, whether in the training room, on the field between drills, or after practice watching a World Cup game, someone was always making some sort of joke and we were having a good time. I loved learning about where the players grew up, what their favorite movies were, and hearing stories from their college years. I hope as I continue in this career, it is filled with more friendships, more laughter, and more growth of women in sports.

Learn more about internship opportunities at the Center for Vocation and Career.