Ciara Taylor is an athletic trainer at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., and a former United States Sports Academy Student of the Month. Now, she’s making the most of her opportunity to work as a concussion manager, spotter, and athletic trainer for the United States Football League (USFL) in Birmingham.

In that role, Taylor is responsible for spotting the obvious signs of concussion in players after big hits and collisions, and responsible for notifying on-field referees when a player needs to be checked out.

“This is truly an amazing opportunity,” Taylor said. “The professional game is so fast paced and exciting and I have learned so much in just a few weeks working with a professional organization like the USFL. This is a great learning opportunity and I can take what I’ve learned and improve upon what I already do in my other work.

“As a concussion spotter, we are the eyes in the sky,” she said. “We work in the booth and use technology to spot head to head contact. We have a computer with multiple angles and replay. We have the ability to communicate with the athletic trainers and concussion managers on the sideline. If a potential injury is left unattended, we can make a call to have officials stop the game and remove the player for medical evaluation. Additionally, we also record data for injuries that result in a medical timeout.

“As a concussion manager, we help the athletic trainers manage injuries. We use our skills as athletic trainers to assist in any way needed. This includes taping, hydration, and treatments. We are there for pregame, on the sidelines for the actual game, and post game. During the game, we are in constant communication with the concussion spotter in the booth. We help monitor the players on the field for signs of concussions.”

Taylor said her Academy education put her in the right position to be able to work with the USFL.

“Being a doctoral candidate at the Academy definitely helped me with this experience,” she said. “I think my CV stood out because of my education and experience. I understand the importance of data collection and research. I am knowledgeable about all aspects of sports, not just sports medicine. The USFL is a business; there are many facets such as production, game management, media, marketing, security, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, housing, transportation, food etc. I understand what it takes to be a member of the USFL team. The level of preparedness and professionalism I possess is a direct result of my doctoral studies.”