Athletic Trainer Study Abroad Program

Our Athletic Trainer Study Abroad program is accredited by the American organization NATA (the National Athletic Trainers Association), and is a short-term program for international students that provides practical experience of the role of an athletic trainer in the United States. Merced College features numerous sports divisions, including in American football, baseball, and men and women's basketball. As an assistant athletic trainer, international students have the opportunity to aid Merced College sports team members by taping injuries, providing massage, as well as helping athletes with conditioning. Through our study abroad program, students can acquire hands-on, professional experience of the role of an athletic trainer in many real life situations, including by assisting athletes during college team championships. Few programs exist in the United States that offer such unique opportunities for direct participation with college sports teams.

Staff Introduction

Scott Lemberger: NATA-certified Athletic Trainer

A graduate of the University of the Pacific (1994), Scott Lemberger became a NATA-certified Athletic Trainer in the year 2000. Lemberger gained practical experience by working for 7 years as a physical therapist, and in 2008 he began working as an athletic trainer at Merced College, where he strives to improve the conditioning of sports players. Due to Lemberger's extensive career background, as well as his enthusiasm toward players, the athletes of Merced College have great confidence in him.

Lemberger's advice to international students about the study of athletic training -

"In order to become an NATA-certified Athletic Trainer, it is important to be passionate about sports. Until you become qualified, that passion will drive you to keep studying, and the road will eventually open to you. Studying athletic training is tough, and the world is tough, too - but I look forward to helping students who are willing to meet the challenge."

Yasuko Tanabe: NATA-certified Assistant Athletic Trainer


Yasuko Tanabe is a graduate of Weber State University. In addition to working at Merced College, Tanabe also worked at a medical clinic within the city of Merced. She believes that it is important to focus on players' motivation, and that by implementing research-based practice from sports psychology, it is possible to help players to maintain their enthusiasm and become better athletes.


"When a player gets injured, it is common for him or her to fall into depression. Depending on the type of injury, players may also need medical treatment, but may avoid participating in rehabilitation due to pain. For this reason, it is important that players take the necessary mental steps for recovery as well, such as facing fears and overcoming inner struggles. As an athletic trainer, it is important to care for players' psychological state and concerns as well as their physical health." 

Short-Term Athletic Trainer Hands-On Course


Course Contents


Students in the athletic trainer program have the opportunity to support athletes in collegiate-level teams in such sports as American football, baseball, softball, basketball, swimming, water polo, and track-and-field. When team members require care, athletic trainer students can assist with on-site services, allowing aspiring athletic trainers to actively participate in conditioning guidance, massage, taping of injuries, and the study of additional care techniques. In addition, students in the athletic trainer program have the ability to accompany team performances, and put into practice their skills in real, high-tension situations. Together with the assistance of trainer instructors, students can learn the role of an athletic trainer step-by-step, while offering effective support to athletes. Throughout the morning, students participate in a program to enhance their English proficiency, and in the afternoon, they study in the athletic training room using hands-on methods to practice the techniques that will enable them to offer sports players with effective support.

In addition, it is possible for students to learn through direct experience by observing real physical therapy conducted in the on-campus medical clinic facility, and there is the opportunity to attend lectures on sports medicine with American students who share the aim of becoming athletic trainers.


Support Services


After their arrival in the U.S., YES offers thorough support services to students to help them to adjust to international student life, such as through offering an international student orientation. 

Accommodations and Emergency Support


As a company with 15+ years of experience conducting homestay services, YES utilizes its network of on-site homestay families to provide students with greater peace of mind and assisting international students to have a safe study abroad experience with host family accommodations. YES staff also offer on-site emergency support services, such as in the case that an international student experiences injury, illness, or other serious problem.   


The Challenges of Becoming an Athletic Trainer, and SDSU Admission

Hiroto Kawaguchi -


Kawaguchi was a student in Merced College's Athletic Trainer Program, and successfully transferred to SDSU (San Diego State University) after the program's completion. In addition, Kawaguchi engaged in player support as an assistant trainer during the Samurai San Diego baseball team's student summer league in 2011. Kawaguchi's work as a student trainer was recognized, and he received a special student award for his efforts. In 2012, Kawaguchi continued his efforts to assist athletes by offering team support to the NFL San Diego Chargers as a student intern.

"In San Diego State University's Athletic Trainer Program, I am required to complete 20 hours of training within a week, so to pursue my studies as well as trainer practice is very challenging. However, I feel that working toward my goal is worthwhile and rewarding, so I don't mind being busy. When student athletes come to the training room with an injury, we first examine the injury location, conduct diagnostic testing, or assist athletes to seek medical care to determine the best methods to achieve recovery, such as through taping or icing of the injury site. When I was able to assist a student athlete to recover from an injury, I was very happy to see him or her return to being an active player. There are 31 students within the same academic year who are seeking to become athletic trainers alongside me, and 60 athletic trainers in total within the university's program who offer support services to student athletes. The difference between San Diego State University and Merced College's athletic trainer programs is the amount of equipment and the scale of the facilities. Since San Diego State University has one league affiliated with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), the level of playing as well as the training and skill-level of student players is high. In addition, life in San Diego is very convenient, and it is even possible to purchase Japanese groceries. Merced College is a good environment for focusing on study, and it was a very positive experience for me to be able to achieve what I had hoped before participating in study abroad, which is to be responsible for helping to support American football and baseball players."


From Short-Term to Long-Term Study Abroad

Misaki Watanabe

Watanabe's experiences as a short-term study abroad student in high school, and long-term study abroad as an athletic trainer:

Before participating in short-term study abroad, my aim was to become an athletic trainer for a pro-baseball team. However, I didn't know what it takes or about the different kinds of trainers, and I didn't know what kind of a trainer I wanted to become. In addition, even after graduating in Japan, it can be difficult to work in the field of sports and takes time to achieve this goal. Although I aspire to become a trainer, I realized that if I want to be able to work in my desired area, then studying English should become one of my strengths. In America it is possible to study both English as well as athletic training, and the success of sports in the United States is very appealing. After my personal experience of short-term study abroad, I came to believe that returning to the United States was the best way for me to achieve my goal of becoming a trainer. At that time, finally I could understand what kind of a trainer I wanted to become, and the steps I would have to take to reach my goal. Since I have a personality that is not easily confident, it has been difficult for me to struggle with learning a new language in a foreign country. However, my goal is to hopefully obtain the qualification of an athletic trainer, and to continue to gain confidence in my role as a trainer. It is possible to feel comfortable while studying abroad, however, you cannot improve yourself if you live the same way as in your native country, and without a clear direction for achieving your goals. There might be a lot of things that you want to do or are unable to accomplish yet, but once you set your mind on a goal, you have to grow or it will never be possible to achieve it. Everyday, I strive to keep in mind what I have to do to accomplish my objectives. From now on, my goal is to get admitted into Baylor University's athletic trainer program, and after graduating I aspire to obtain NATA (National Athletic Trainers' Association) qualifications. In the future, my dream is to work side-by-side with Americans.