MEQUON, Wis. – When Mitchell Schneider decided Concordia University Wisconsin was the best fit for his collegiate career, few would have guessed he would take his experiences to the Lambeau Field sidelines as a full-time athletic training, training camp intern.
Schneider ('12) quickly put his mark on people when they worked with him in the classroom, athletic training room and on the basketball court at CUW. 'Hard work' was a phrase that easily stuck with the New Holstein, Wis., native. Not only was he the lead athletic training student handling the day-to-day duties with the Falcons football team, but he also became a leader and one of the best players to ever step foot on the hardwood.
His driven attitude has given him a second stint with the 13-time World Champions and one of the most recognizable franchises in all of professional sports. Schneider recently took time from his grueling, yet rewarding, schedule to speak with CUWFalcons.com.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I get to the stadium at six in the morning and set up for pre-treatments so when the guys come in a 6:30 a.m. we are ready. I help with rehabilitation, taking care of aches and pains and bruises, cuts, stuff like that. If guys had surgery in the offseason we continue to help them with their rehab so they can back on the field faster.
Having spent a brief week there during the 2011 training camp, has the Athletic Training [AT] staff given you more responsibility now that you are the full-time training camp intern?
I wouldn't say more responsibility, but I am more comfortable with everything. Now when they ask me to get something done it is easier to do it on my own because I know my surroundings. When a player has to come in and he needs treatment, I can tell them 'This is what we are doing today. This is what they want done.'
What was the experience like when the Packers called and asked you to come back for the entire training camp?
I was excited because of only being there a week last year. I was just starting to get comfortable at the end of that week a year ago, especially getting adjusted to the routine of sleeping only four or five hours. When they called I was excited to again have the opportunity to be an integral part of the AT staff, particularly when they said I would work home games and travel with the team. I am getting the chance to see more things than last year and learn the ins-and-outs of the NFL.
When people ask you what it is like being inside Lambeau Field and the Packers locker room, what have you told them?
It is hard to explain. I have been a Packer fan my whole life and I had to get used to not looking at the guys as a celebrity figure and looking at them as just another guy. As I started to hang out with them, I realized these guys come into the training room having a good time, but this is their job. They take a pounding every day and they don't always want to talk about football. It is an unreal experience because of being a Packer fan and having the chance to work with guys, such as Donald Driver and Charles Woodson. I get to see these guys when they are not on camera and not in pads, and they are just normal people like everyone else.
Which player have you connected with the most?
I would say some of the rookies and returning veterans. I talk to Alex Green a good amount. I had a few days where I had prolonged talks with Donald Driver about random things when he has been in the AT room. I work with the defensive backs, so seeing them every day I get to learn about each guy and the talks get more in-depth as the weeks have progressed. Sometimes I get a five minute conversation with someone that hasn't said a word to me or a half hour with someone I have been working on the whole time.
Has the AT staff taught you anything new or shared their experiences?
Those guys are awesome and are a fun group to be around. They are easy going and if I ask them anything, they are willing to teach me everything they know. Having the chance to be around them I get to see how they handle certain situations. Many of the players are fighting for a job and seeing how the AT staff interacts with the players during those situations has been valuable. As an AT, we get to see the personal side of these guys, but then there is the business side of things. This experience is unique because of the professional setting. If I want to try something I have not done before – techniques, modalities or work with machines I have never seen before in my life – they are willing to show me and let me learn hands-on.
How has the experiences at CUW allowed you to transition to the NFL?
I feel like the AT program at CUW definitely put the responsibility on me as I grew in the program. They did a very good job of putting me in positions that I could learn and advance as an AT. Transitioning from a sophomore to a junior, and then finally being a senior and working with one spot as the lead person, it gives you the opportunity to see what it takes. I learned how to effectively manage my time working with the football team because of the roster size, having 90 to 100 players, and taking care of multiple people at once. It was challenging, but I am glad to have had the opportunity.
You are known as a hard worker. Do you think that has been your one attribute that has allowed you the chance to work in the NFL?
I believe so. I was always taught from young on that, if you work hard good things would happen. That is what my mom and dad always taught me and told me. I think that is why I am where I am right now. I may not be the best athletic trainer or the smartest, but I am always going to work hard. If I am asked to do something, I am going to do it to best of my ability.
If a CUW student athletic trainer wants to work in the NFL one day, what advice would you give them?
You have to work hard and handle every situation the best as you can. Take every opportunity you get, whether it is small or large, and do not take anything for granted. The one day you slack off or take it easy, is going to be the day someone is watching you and remembers you were lazy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be an athletic trainer, but you have to love what you are doing. I hope what I did with the Packers opens up a door for future CUW athletic training students.