Great Falls, MT-Voyagers Athletic Trainer Margaret Rall has been selected as the 2017 Pioneer League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). Rall, in her fourth season in Great Falls, is now eligible for the Minor League Athletic Trainer of the Year award voted on by the full membership of PBATS. The St. Louis, MO native recently provided some insight into her career.
What do you like most about working in Great Falls and in the Pioneer League?
I really enjoy working with the rookie players. The younger players have so much energy and play with a lot of joy. I think that's really important because you can get lost in the game and forget how much fun it is to play baseball for a living. This league is a great place to see baseball. The travel can get a little long on a bus, but the scenery is beautiful, the people are welcoming, and you get to see some pretty good talent, not to mention a future big leaguer once in a while.
The White Sox media guide lists you as the first female, on-field staff member in franchise history. What comes to mind when you think a little more about that status?
It sounds pretty flattering in a way. I know it's not completely a novelty. There have been so many other women that have paved the way for young female athletic trainers today. I'm thankful for those before me that have worked hard in this position, and I'm grateful for the teams that have given me the opportunity to work in professional baseball. I hope to be of help to any young professionals that are interested in this field and want to pursue a career in pro sports.
Have you always wanted to be an athletic trainer since you were younger, or is it a career field that came up later in your education life?
I knew I wanted to be an athletic trainer in high school. I sprained my ankle playing basketball and did some work with the trainer there. She started teaching me about anatomy and taping and I was hooked. She had some connections and helped me apply for the program at Truman State University (MO). That's where I ended up completing my degree in Exercise Science and graduating having already passed the certification exam.
When you tell random folks what you do for a living, what are some of the responses you receive?
They ask if I keep the guys in shape. Of course, that's a misconception. I handle injury prevention, care, and rehabilitation. We have a certified strength and conditioning coach, who I work closely with, that handles the weight training and conditioning. People always ask which famous athletes I've met, or what is the coolest injury you've seen? Inevitably, someone will ask when I'm moving to Chicago. Most people outside of pro ball don't understand the complex minor league system and the depth of the organization.
You've done some work with colleges and universities as well. What are the differences between working with college athletes and professional athletes?
Time management is still very important in pro sports, but in a whole new way. There aren't classes to attend or papers to write. Their number one priority is taking care of their body, their main tool for work. I put a lot into my work and I like this level because you know that the athlete is serious about their pursuit here and they will give you the effort that is required. One big difference is some of these players are 18 or 19 years old, and they're thrown into a professional job where they are accountable and have to handle money, agents, and travel. Most 18 year olds are finding a part-time summer gig before heading off to college. Not to mention, some of them are from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or other countries. A big part of my job here at the rookie level is education. A lot of the experiences are new to them. Our main priority is to facilitate them moving up to the next level and ultimately to the big leagues.
You were born in New Guinea. How did that come to be?
Yes, Papua, New Guinea. My parents were missionaries. I got to go back for the first time in 2015 and it was amazing. My two older siblings were born there as well. My parents still go back for several weeks each year to teach classes and visit the people. It is a place unlike any other I've ever been, and I'd like to think it gives me some perspective on a third-world upbringing. Many of our players come from so little and have so much to adjust to here in the United States.
What are some of your hobbies away from baseball?
I like to run. I love to travel, especially if it involves a beach. I like music, especially live music. Mostly, I enjoy seeing and spending time with my family and my friends in the off-season. I also love a good coffee shop.
Where do you see yourself in your career 10 years from now? Do you aspire to reach the big leagues like the players you work with here in Great Falls?
Ultimately, I think it would be great to make to it to the big leagues. I could see myself adding on a massage therapy license at some point and maybe that would accelerate things. For the time being, I really love the rookie level. It's challenging, but the players are still impressionable and they are passionate.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.