Ezron D. Bryson
(BS, Athletic Training, ’09)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
There were so many experiences and people at Hofstra University that helped shape me into the person I am today. One professor/advisor/mentor who had an impact on me from the first time I met her is Dr. Jayne Kitsos Ellinger. She always held me accountable and never allowed me to slack off. When working with Dr. Kitsos, she always gives you what you need, which may not always be what you want. I had to resubmit papers, even though I passed my Board of Certification examination, because it was not up to the high standards she required of me. With such an intimate program and having the same professors for many classes, who also happen to be your advisors, a strong lifetime bond can develop. As a matter of fact, she still uses my paper as a “what not to do” when you have a short case of “senioritis.” Hofstra is blessed to have someone like her and people like her working at the University.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
My first job after graduating from Hofstra was with the seasonal assistant athletic training for the New York Jets, which is commonly known as a seasonal internship. I was one of three seasonal interns that year, and one of the most valuable lessons I learned in that position is how to work in a high-level environment. While I had other jobs and clinical experience, this position was the transition between the theory you learn in school and the clinical application of your knowledge. Although this was a seasonal internship, we were treated like entry-level employees within the profession. We learned that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” In this realm, the interns experience many things ranging from all types of injuries and illnesses, interdepartmental relations, to learning how to work with a very diverse staff of people from various ages and backgrounds. Time management was also key, as the typical workweek was between 70 and 80 hours – very similar to the hours I work in my current position.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
My field of specialty is athletic training. I am a certified athletic trainer, properly abbreviated as ATC (which is NOT the same as a personal trainer). Athletic trainers (ATs), according to the National Athletic Training Association (NATA), are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventive services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes. Athletic trainers are health care providers and are often the first point of contact or response to an injury or illness. I first discovered athletic training in my senior year of high school when I was conducting research on different undergraduate degree programs. I eventually figured out that I wanted to do something in sports medicine and through my research, discovered the field of athletic training. I had never heard of it or even met an athletic trainer until attending Hofstra. So yes, I chose a major that I did not really know anything about, which is not the norm. However, I went from not knowing what an athletic trainer was to now being an assistant athletic trainer in professional sports within the National Football League (NFL).
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
The best piece of advice that I can give to current students is to speak to as many people as you can. Be involved in various organizations where you can learn, grow, and develop lifetime relationships. Reach out to people you know and those you do not know to gain experience from various perspectives. I am currently mentoring eight undergraduate, graduate, recent graduates, and entry-level athletic trainers whom I have never met. All of them connected with me through an interview or reached out via email or LinkedIn messenger. If I networked more when I was in my undergraduate program, my trajectory could have been a little bit different. Nonetheless, my experiences and network on Hofstra’s campus contributed to my success today. Take advantage of your individual network and tap into others. Speak to as many staff and faculty members about your dreams or projected future because you never know what piece of advice you can get or how that person may be able to help you. It does not have to be something that impacts you immediately; it can help you further down the road and open up opportunities that you may not have been able to achieve without it.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- As an assistant athletic trainer for the New York Jets, you work with an array of professional athletes. How do you balance meeting each athlete’s individual needs?
It is challenging to identify the needs of each individual athlete, especially having the responsibility to assess every possible metric and correct them with a smaller staff. One of the strategies that we use is the broad testing of various markers on the whole team, where we put the data in a comparable format, analyze it, select the trends, and then employ a variety of strategies to address the predispositions of the team or position group. When using this method, there will always be outliers from the trends, which may require a more specific protocol and those that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. When we incorporate those corrective or supplemental strategies, we also retest along the way to ensure that our strategy or protocol is working for the individual.
A larger part of what athletic trainers do is to care for injuries and illnesses. When an athlete has an ailment, they are thoroughly evaluated. Some injuries may last only a few days, and some may require a surgical procedure that keeps them off the field for up to nine months. Each individual athlete has their own program that is specifically crafted by me and the rest of the staff so that they can recover appropriately, get healthier faster, and return to the field safely.
- What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome to perform your job?
One obstacle I had to overcome for this position is that I started during the busiest time of the year for the NFL. When I was hired as an assistant athletic trainer for the New York Jets, I arrived three days into training camp, which means there were 90+ football players in the facility, each having their own unique needs. Entering that environment and trying to succeed without even knowing the names or faces of the players was a great challenge. Although I was an intern in 2009, I worked at three other places since that time; therefore, I had to be reacquainted with the way things were run with the New York Jets. I was scrambling trying to learn the medical histories of all the players, starting with the ones who were currently injured and/or receiving treatments and rehabilitation. It did take some long days and nights, but I was able to catch up relatively quickly.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is always a great question. What is funny about this question is that I get asked it fairly often. The answer that people anticipate is “to be the head athletic trainer in the NFL,” which is usually one of my answers. Although most of my higher education and continuing education has been in the athletic training field, it doesn’t mean that I will be an athletic trainer the rest of my life. There are other fields and areas of life that are of interest to me, and I may decide to explore them. If I remain in my profession, I hope to be a head athletic trainer in a setting that makes sense for my family and me. Hofstra University has helped prepare me for life and life’s challenges, so I feel like I can do anything!
Ezron Bryson is entering his fourth season with the New York Jets as an assistant athletic trainer, where he is responsible for the day-to-day health and wellness of the professional football players. Prior to working for the New York Jets, Bryson was an associate athletic trainer for the University of Georgia and worked primarily with the Bulldogs' men's basketball program. He implemented corrective exercises with the existing Fusionetics platform to assess and correct imbalances and insufficiencies. He also served on the Graduate Assistant Selection Committee and spoke to youth through the UGA Archway program.
Prior to his stop in Athens, Georgia, Ezron spent three years as the assistant director of sports medicine at Manhattan College, where he served as the primary contact for the men's basketball team, providing oversight for the baseball and volleyball programs. Ezron supported all 19 of Manhattan's athletics programs while coordinating student-athletes' schedules for nutrition and chiropractor and physician appointments. He was also responsible for student work-study employment budgets and schedules. In addition, Ezron worked on the sports medicine staff for the University of Michigan and the New York Jets. From 2010 through 2012, he was a graduate assistant athletic trainer with the Wolverines, providing care, prevention and rehabilitation for student-athletes. Ezron oversaw special equipment and pads for student-athletes and maintained custom and non-custom knee braces, game bags, and practice trunks. He traveled with the football programs to two bowl games, where he helped coordinate athletic training set-up at practice sites and team hotels. While in Ann Arbor, Ezron was named Michigan's 2011-2012 Clinical Instructor of the Year. He also served as a season athletic trainer for the Jets from 2009 to 2010, where he helped develop preventive and rehabilitative programs for injured athletes, documented athletes' treatment sessions, rehabilitation programs, and daily progress, and oversaw athletic training room equipment and inventory.
Ezron’s efforts contributed to a stellar run of team success. Manhattan captured 2014 and 2015 MAAC Championships and participated in the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Tournaments. The Wolverine Football Program played in the 2011 Progressive Gator Bowl and won the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Jets also advanced to the 2010 AFC Championship Game.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Ezron earned a bachelor's degree in athletic training with a minor in physical education and sports sciences from Hofstra University in 2009, and a master's degree in sports management from the University of Michigan in 2012. Ezron is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, is certified as a corrective exercise specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is a member of the New Jersey Athletic Trainers Association. Ezron presented his published article “Bullous Impetigo in a Division I College Football Team” at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s NATA Clinical Symposia in 2012.