The closest most people get to professional football is through a television set, but Nicholas Peters, formerly of Goessel, spends every day on the sidelines and in the training room with players of a National Football League team, the Denver Broncos. As a seasonal athletic trainer intern, it is his job to rehabilitate injuries and help with the daily duties of keeping the team healthy.
“I love my job,” Peters said. “It really is a dream come true.”
So far this season, Peters spent every day of the year since July with the Broncos. Only during the team’s bye week did he get two days off. He is part of a training team which consists of a head athletic trainer, three full time assistants, two interns — one is Peters, one physician, and numerous other specialty doctors.
“I don’t make any diagnoses, but once the head trainer or one of the doctors does, then it is my job to help them get better,” Peters said.
He starts everyday at 5:30 a.m., arriving at the practice field an hour before the players in order to get stations set up. When the players arrive, he works with sprained ankles, injured knees, hamstring strains, broken fingers, and various other bumps and bruises. His day is often not over until 4 or 5 p.m. The team provides about 90 percent of his clothing and food needs.
“I am learning so much here,” he said. “I am learning new techniques and methods of healing. Working here is a great experience.”
Peters said the family atmosphere with the team also made his job very enjoyable.
“Everyone knows who each other is here,” he said. “The players are always very busy, but every now and then someone like Tim Tebow stops by to say ‘hi’.”
Game days are highlights for Peters, who gets to travel with the team and works the sidelines at away and home games.
“Basically on game days I’m handing out water and Gatorade, stretching tight muscles, or bandaging up small cuts or bleeders,” he said. “I don’t ever run out on the field, but I work with the small stuff wherever they need me.”
Peters’ parents, Rod and Linda Peters of rural Goessel, look for him on televised games and have seen him occasionally. On Nov. 13, they traveled to Kansas City to see the Chiefs and Broncos play, and were able to meet with their son on the sidelines prior to the game.
“He knew we were coming and we called him on his cell phone when we got there,” Linda Peters said. “He came to our gate and gave us pre-game field passes so we could get in.”
His parents spent several hours on the field watching him in action as he passed out water and Gatorade to the players warming up. They were required to leave the sidelines and sit in the stands once the game began.
Peters graduated in 2004 from Goessel High School where he participated in football and basketball. He said his coach, Justin Coup, encouraged him to pursue his dream of working as an athletic trainer for a college or professional team.
“He’s always been very focused about what he wanted to do,” Linda Peters said.
Peters went to Fort Hays State University after high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. He applied for and was awarded a summer internship job as a trainer with the Tennessee Titans football team. After that term was over, he continued his education at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo., graduating in 2010 with a master’s degree in health and human performance.
He said it was the personal contacts he made during his educative years that helped him land the seasonal internship job with the Broncos. At the end of this NFL season, Peters hopes to find an opening as a permanent trainer somewhere.
“I have no problem working at the collegiate level if I don’t find an opening in the NFL,” he said. “But this has been a great experience so far, and I really love it.”