An athlete at a small high school in Detroit, Ralpheal Wildy had little available to him as far as medical attention for sports-related injuries. There was no trainer. No rehabilitation specialist. Nobody really to go to even for an ice pack.
“I thought about those things and how I needed that as an athlete,” he said. “So, I decided I wanted to give back to sports and help athletes when they need it most.”
Athletic training was what he wanted to study. After attending one year at a different Michigan university, Ralpheal wanted to find a program he felt gave him the best opportunity to learn through experience.
“I looked at the CMU program, and I knew at first sight it was somewhere I wanted to go to gain experience and somewhere I could build my foundation,” he said. “This program gives you a lot of opportunities to be successful. I like how this program challenges you and pushes you not only to be good, but to be great at whatever you want to do in life.”
He came to CMU looking for a chance to learn in the field, face-to-face with athletes. It wasn’t long before he got that opportunity.
Talking with one of his instructors, a graduate assistant at CMU, Ralpheal learned he had just returned from an internship with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
Ralpheal’s eyes lit up.
“I thought to myself, ‘that’s awesome,’” he said. “I told him I wanted to do an internship in the NFL. He told me, ‘Well, let’s get to work.’”
The two worked on Ralpheal’s resume and cover letter, which they sent to all 32 NFL teams.
After a few weeks with no response, he got down on his chances. Then, there was a call.
“I came into the CMU football training room preparing to pack the team bus when I got called into the office from my teacher telling me he got a call from one of the teams,” Ralpheal said. “He told me he wasn’t gone tell me the team, but told me the guy’s name so I would have to look up the team. I had an interview that day.”
He got the offer to join the Buffalo Bills as a student athletic trainor for the summer.
“I stood there in shock, but with excitement because I had the chance to go to the NFL to be a professional athletic trainer,” he said.
Ralpheal spent the summer with the Bills’ training staff during the NFL preseason. He took players to get X-rays and MRIs. He helped them rehabilitate injuries. He assisted with preseason physicals, aquatic therapy and observed their regular appointments with team doctors.
“I loved it there. They made us feel like family. I learned a lot and gained a lot of knowledge,” he said. “I got a call later on from one of the staff members there, and he said the players were still asking about me and wished I could come back.”