Dave Lagow ’01 spends a lot of time on the soccer field. Lagow recently became the head athletic trainer for the Orlando City Soccer Club, a USL Pro team planning a move to the MLS. He says it’s the connections that he’s developed that helped him move from the U.S. Soccer National Team to the Columbus Crew (MLS), and now to Orlando City.
Q: What do you do as head athletic trainer at Orlando City Soccer Club?
A: As head athletic trainer for Orlando City, I am responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day healthcare and healthcare administration of the players. The mornings are spent working with the players and covering training, while the afternoons are more focused on the administrative side of things.
Clinically, I tape, stretch, rehab, do manual therapy, etc. to ensure my athletes are playing at as close to peak performance as possible, or work to get them back to that level after an injury. Administratively, I schedule medical appointments for the players, process insurance claims, write policies/procedures/emergency action plans, and work with my physicians and Orlando Health to help build the sports medicine program.
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Q: Do you do a lot of traveling?
A: As the head athletic trainer, I am present for all training sessions and games, so there is a fair amount of travel. Preseason can consist of between six and eight weeks on the road, depending upon what region of the country you’re based out of. Here in Orlando, I’m fortunate to not have to travel for preseason due to the unreal weather year round. During the year, there are 30 games split evenly between home and away, so there is a fair bit of traveling.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: My favorite part of the job is when an athlete moves on to another team, phase of life, etc. but still will call for my advice. It could be about a medical condition they’re having, or someone in their family is dealing with. Knowing that I’ve made enough of an impact for them to always seek out my opinion is really gratifying. It’s also not so bad that I get to go outside and play soccer everyday!
Q: Why did you choose to work with soccer teams?
A: I grew up playing soccer, so I love the sport, but it was also the right fit. Just because you love a sport doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a good athletic trainer for that sport. I enjoy the demands of soccer – it can be very challenging and intriguing.
Q: How did you get to your current position?
A: I got to Orlando City the old fashion way: networking. I held several college jobs after grad school and really took to heart what my mentors were teaching me. I got introduced to the U.S. Soccer National Team system in 2006 and that really opened doors for me in soccer. I worked for several youth National Teams before working with the U.S. Men’s National Team from 2007 until 2010.
This helped me get my job with the Charleston Battery where I was hired by a CofC classmate of mine, and ultimately, my job as head athletic trainer of the Columbus Crew in 2010. Ironically, a former player of mine with The Battery was the link that got me the interview with Orlando City and things went on from there. Each step along the way was only possible by creating and cultivating relationships with different people.
Q: Who are some players to watch?
A: For Orlando City, I would say Yordany Alvarez and Austin da Luz would be good guys to watch for. They’ve had experience in MLS and are coming to Orlando City to help them transition from USL Pro to MLS next year. Jamie Watson and Rob Valentino are other ones as I’ve worked with them in the past during U.S. National team stints.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring athletic trainers?
A: I would recommend that up and coming ATs seek out as much practical experience as possible through summer internships, etc. I would also recommend being a lifelong student. There is so much out there that you’ll never know it all, but the more you know, the more your athletes/patients will appreciate you.