Ocheyedan native interning with the Colts
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jacob Laverman arrives at his job at 6:30 every morning and works until about 11 o'clock every night.
And he loves every minute of it.
Laverman, 21, of Ocheyedan, Iowa, is an athletic training student at Iowa State University. He's spending his summer interning with the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.
So, Jacob, what can you tell us about those big, powerful, prima donna athletes that those of us living in the real world would be surprised to learn?
"That it's just really normal to talk to them, even though they're someone you're used to seeing on TV," said Laverman this week by phone. "It's just how normal everyone is. Even the top players. It's interesting that I haven't seen too much of that ego. I kind of expected to see more of that."
And Andrew Luck? What kind of guy, really, is the Colts quarterback, who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2012? You know, the guy who took over the job from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning?
"He's a really nice guy. He's fun. He spends a lot of time with us. He's very smart. He gets a lot of respect from people," answers Laverman.
The young Iowan plied his developing training skills last year with the Iowa State Cyclones football team while still taking classes. Today, he's learning a whole new set of lessons by interacting with the Colts.
Learning from the best
The pro experience started for Laverman after he sent off cover letters to all 32 NFL teams. Three-fourths of them responded, some of them only to say no openings were available. The Detroit Lions were one of the teams that responded positively and scheduled a telephone interview. A second interview was planned with the Lions, but before that happened the Colts came through with an offer.
Laverman, though well aware of the long hours and limited pay associated with trainer internships, was thrilled to take it.
So now, halfway through the training camp season, the ISU student has his routine down pat. In the mornings, he participates in treatments with players, works with them on their exercise routines, and messages their sore muscles. He also takes part in evaluations when players arrive with complaints.
There are three full-time trainers and one full-time physical therapist on the Colts staff overseeing the job Laverman is doing. He is one of eight interns on the training crew.
Laverman follows a written training plan for every player who has had previous work done and the experience he's getting is both rare and valuable.
"This is really a true blessing," he said. "I'm getting so much hands-on experience and I'm learning from some of the best there is. This is something I never would have gotten anywhere else."
A friend indeed
Of course, it didn't hurt Laverman's chances of landing the Colts internship that Iowa State University enjoys a long-standing reputation as a fine athletic training school. A strong connection between ISU and the Indianapolis Colts already existed before the young northwest Iowa resident landed his summer position.
It also didn't hurt that Laverman enjoys a friendship with local product Joel Krekelberg, who before he established a volunteer athletic relationship with Worthington High School and Minnesota West, was an assistant trainer with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Ironically, Krekelberg -- a 1973 Worthington High School grad -- was in Houston when Luck's father, Oliver, played there as a backup quarterback.
Laverman took a couple of training classes with Krekelberg at Minnesota West and, in his own words, "spent a lot of time shadowing him."
Krekelberg helped him get into the ISU program. And Laverman used Krekelberg as a reference after applying for the Colts position. The two of them stay in touch.
"He's an awesome kid. You wouldn't meet a better kid," Krekelberg said of Laverman. "If he ever does wind up with a pro team, he will be a great find for whatever team he winds up with."
What the Iowa student is going through now with the Colts, said Krekelberg, is "basically what I went through 30 years ago. It's almost surreal once you're there. One of the things I told him was to take a little time to enjoy yourself."
As busy as Laverman is, however, there seems to be very little time for anything but work. In short, the players' needs are paramount.
"The big emphasis here is that we're a service. That it's our job to do what we can for the players to do their job ... It's very service-oriented," he said, adding, "They have high expectations here."
In spite of the businesslike approach that is always at the forefront, Laverman says the Colts have let him into their circle.
"They treat you like one of their own. And they'll joke with you too," Laverman maintains. "They're gonna include you, too, and they're gonna take it right back. That's kind of when you know you're accepted, when you get some of that thrown your way."
A true Colts fan
There are only 32 teams in the National Football League and the competition for full-time jobs is fierce.
"It's definitely a small pool of jobs out there. I'm not only setting my sights on (the NFL)," Laverman says. "I definitely want to stick with the athletic field."
He plans to go to graduate school, and he hopes the connections he's making now will be a benefit down the line.
His mother, Mary, says Jacob grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan like his father, Steve.
Mary likes the Minnesota Vikings. When she was asked earlier this summer if her son was ever a fan of the Colts, she answered, "He is now."
When asked this week where his loyalties resided before accepting the Colts internship, Jacob responded somewhat differently.
"No comment," he said.
He only offered that he's a true-blue Colts fan today.
He has a girlfriend, and when he was asked whether she's asked him to get Luck's autograph, he explained that that sort of thing is frowned upon among athletic trainers -- interns, or not.
It's a simple, businesslike philosophy that specifies that trainers should be colleagues, not fans.
But Laverman, a friendly, smart and articulate young man, turned the tables when he considered the autograph question.
"If maybe Adam Vinatieri (the Colts' All-Pro kicker) asks for my autograph, I think I'll probably give him one."