Class Notes Profile: Pack mentality

Bryan Engel Packers Bryan Engel, head athletic trainer of the Green Bay Packers, attends to center JC Tretter. “You can’t just treat the injury,” Engel says. “You also have to treat the player.” (Image by Jim Biever)
For trainer Bryan Engel, healing is a mind-body process

Monday is a day of rest for pro football players. But not for Bryan Engel, ’98 AHS. As head athletic trainer of the Green Bay Packers, Engel is in his Lambeau Field office examining injury reports and updating status for Packers on the sidelines. Using information from the team doctors, Engel works up rehabilitation plans and advises coaches on players’ status for the next game.

“The majority of injuries are Sunday-to-Sunday things,” he says. “I update coaches sometimes four times a day, in case a player develops swelling or soreness during a workout.” Engel doesn’t just assign exercises for the athlete. He also talks with him about his life, about any emotional factors or lifestyle changes that could help his recovery.

Entering Illinois as a mechanical engineering major, Engel switched to athletic training as a freshman and secured a training-camp internship with the New England Patriots following his junior year. After graduation, he accepted a seasonal assistant internship with Green Bay. The Packers hired him full-time the next year, and a series of promotions took him to the top spot last season.

After the Packers muscled through a rash of injuries to win the Super Bowl in 2010, the team’s athletic training staff was named the NFL’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

“You can’t treat just the injury,” Engel says. “You also have to treat the player. I believe in the mind-body connection. Helping players keep a positive state of mind improves their chances of recovery. What makes my job rewarding is seeing someone return from an injury he didn’t think he could overcome.”