Filled with determination and desire to pursue a career in athletic training, Jordan Velez mailed a cover letter and résumé to every National Football League team last fall in hopes of gaining an internship this summer.
Velez, an athletic training student about to start his senior year at Sacred Heart University, said he always wanted to work for an NFL team, a job that he believed would be challenging but rewarding.
In December 2016, after receiving several “we’ll get back to you” emails from NFL teams, he garnered a phone interview with a member of the New England Patriots’ athletic training staff. He arranged a time to use SHU Assistant Professor Julie Nolan’s office and landline telephone for the interview to ensure he would have a quiet space and a solid phone connection. Velez said the interview went well, but days passed without further communication from the team.
While on his way to the airport with his mother in early January, about to embark on his Birthright trip to Israel, Velez realized he should email the Patriots’ staff to inform them that he would be unreachable for several days. Within minutes after he sent the message, he received an email and a phone call from the Patriots. He found himself standing in the airport security line, explaining why he wanted to be an athletic training intern for the team.
“I told them I liked the Patriots organization, that they’re top-tier and I want to work for the best of the best,” Velez said. “Plus, they are known for their athletic trainers.”
With that answer, Velez was offered the internship. “It was the best news,” Velez said. “It made the Birthright trip even better.”
Velez, a native of West Orange, N.J., comes from a long line of businessmen specializing in life insurance. By his senior year of high school, he realized he didn’t want to pursue the course so many of his family members followed before him. He wanted a job where he could not only talk to people, but help them physically. So, he has spent the last three years studying athletic training at SHU and has been pre-accepted into SHU’s doctorate of physical therapy program.
“I want to help patients,” Velez said. “Athletic training is hands-on. I meet different people every day and get to assist them.”
Velez has logged hundreds of clinical hours over the past two years as part of the athletic training program, and he has been assigned a clinical with SHU’s hockey team for his senior year. “I’m looking forward to it; I’m sure I’ll learn a lot,” he said.
Besides fulfilling his athletic training duties, Velez must complete a number of observation hours as part of the physical therapy program application process. He already spent two weeks this summer observing at the Jewish Home Senior Services in Bridgeport. Velez said he wasn’t allowed to touch patients; he was only there to watch and learn. “I asked a lot of questions,” said Velez, who is eager to find out more about his profession. He also works at Professional Physical Therapy at sites throughout Fairfield County.
Velez expected to begin his month-long internship with the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., at the end of July. He is one of three interns assigned to help with the team, and he will be housed in the same hotel as the players. Velez is excited and prepared to do whatever the staff needs him to do.
“Jordan’s internship with the Patriots is a great accomplishment and I’m excited for him that he has this unique opportunity,” said Nolan, assistant professor for athletic training. “I think that it will be a great experience for him, as very few athletic trainers (especially undergraduate students) get the opportunity to work in professional sports. It will be a great opportunity for him to use the skills that he has acquired so far in the SHU athletic training program, but it also will be a great learning experience to be exposed to the daily routine of working with a professional sports team. I think the experience will be very rewarding for him and certainly will help him in his future career, as well as make him more marketable.”
Velez said his college career at SHU has been amazing, and he is grateful to the University for creating many opportunities for him. “Every chance I’ve had to grow and move forwards, SHU has helped me along the way,” Velez said.
He said he knew when he first visited campus years ago that SHU was a tight-knit school where he could make many connections. Besides keeping up with his school work and clinicals, Velez is a student ambassador and president of the Student Athletic Training Organization. He plays club rugby and worked as a residential success assistant his junior year.
At this point in his educational career, Velez isn’t positive what specialty he will pursue. “I like geriatrics, I like kids, I like sports,” he said. “Right now, I want to focus on next semester, and I’ll see where it takes me.”