I’m a trainer for the Los Angeles Rams. Here’s how we prep for the big game.

  • Lawrence Jones, 30, is one of six full-time assistant athletic trainers for the Los Angeles Rams.
  • He’s been with the team since 2018, making this Sunday his second trip to the Super Bowl.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to writer Jenny Powers. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Lawrence Jones, an assistant athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Rams. It has been edited for length and clarity.

You might see me hand a bottle of water to a player on the sidelines of a game, but that doesn’t make me a waterboy.  

In fact, it’s time to set the record straight and debunk the whole waterboy myth, because, in truth, the job doesn’t even exist. But ever since Adam Sandler took to the screen in 1998 as “The Waterboy,” people have been under the impression it does. 

The internet seems filled with talk about NFL waterboys, even listing salary details about a position that’s virtually nonexistent

Until now, I never even made the connection that people thought of assistant athletic trainers like myself as waterboys because, in reality, we’re healthcare professionals who are responsible for the health, wellness, and performance of some of the world’s top athletes.

I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, a master’s in clinical athletic training, and am a certified strength and conditioning specialist. 

Don’t get me wrong — water plays a key factor in keeping players safe, especially in warm weather. My fellow trainers and I, along with the team’s dietitians, are on the frontline when it comes to proper hydration on and off the field, but it’s still only a fraction of what we do. 

Each of our team’s 6 full-time assistant athletic trainers is assigned to a subcategory or niche that we refer to as a committee

Lawrence Jones The Los Angeles Rams

Jones (center front) with fellow trainers and specialists for the Los Angeles Rams.

The Los Angeles Rams

I’m the head of the foot and ankle committee, which has a pretty robust program. 

One of the first things I do each season is onboard and evaluate each player in terms of their footwear selection to determine the best sneaker and cleat for their individual needs, taking into consideration things like how to combat any deficiencies or injury-related challenges through the use of custom orthotics or shoe modification. 

We also monitor our own fields as well as the fields we play on using technology to track different variables, including a field’s integrity and firmness. Even factors such as the length of the blades of grass and piles of turf are taken into account.

The reason we do all this is to determine how different types of cleats will interact on different surfaces and see how they match up with injury rates across the league. 

Ultimately, our goal in performing activities like this is to reduce the instance of injury and make it safer for the players.

Our workdays begin between 6 and 7 a.m., and we work 7 days a week from June through the end of football season, then drop down to 5 days

The Los Angeles Rams Lawrence Jones

Jones (far left) on the field mid-game at the Rams’ home stadium.

The Los Angeles Rams

Sundays are game days, which means Mondays are dedicated to triaging and assessing and addressing any player injuries. 

Players are off on Tuesdays, so that’s when we regroup and discuss what’s coming down the pipeline as well as repack our trunks of medical equipment for the games. 

Wednesdays through Fridays are the team’s practice days, which means we arrive by 6 a.m. to prep the training room so when the guys roll in at 7 a.m. we’re ready to get moving with training and treatments. After practice, we do another round of treatments. 

On Saturdays, we do a morning treatment with players, monitor the playing field, and take care of any prep work at the hotel. 

On game days, the six of us divide and conquer in terms of how we split up our duties.

I’m responsible for taking care of the players on the offensive bench on game days

Lawrence Jones The Los Angeles Rams

Jones is on the field at every game.

The Los Angeles Rams

When they come off the field, it’s my job to address their needs, which range from getting a hot pack for a sore hamstring to caring for a bleeding elbow to retaping an ankle. 

I’ll also give them water if they need it or “cramp juice,” which we make by combining regular Gatorade, an electrolyte substance called The Right Stuff, and sodium bicarbonate Alka-Seltzer to help settle the stomach.  

It’s a demanding job and in order to thrive, you have to be a natural caregiver and be willing to give 110%. 

There’s a lot of travel and nights spent sleeping in hotel rooms, but the hardest part of the job is the stuff you miss outside of work 

My family lives in Pennsylvania, which means I miss Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays. I have young nieces I’ve only had the chance to meet once. 

It’s a tradeoff and it’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s very empowering to be in a position where you have the ability to be a positive force in a player’s life day in and day out. 

For me, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing that look of appreciation and sheer gratitude on a player’s face when you’re able to help them perform at their best. 

There are also tangible perks that come with the job, like tickets to regular games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl

These tickets are considered salaried benefits, meaning we just pay taxes on them. If the team wins, you also get a Super Bowl ring as long as you pay the taxes on it.  

One of my greatest memories was in 2019. I was new to the profession and LA and it had been a tough year for me personally.

It was my first year with the team, and my dad along with several family members came to the Super Bowl. Standing there on the field with cameras flashing everywhere, I was literally moved to tears as the national anthem played, and I remember thinking to myself, “How in the world did I end up here?”  

Hopefully, this year’s big game will have a different outcome and we’ll go all the way this time and win. If we do, we’ll enjoy the hell out of our off-season, Super Bowl rings and all.

Read More: I’m a trainer for the Los Angeles Rams. Here’s how we prep for the big game.

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