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February 7, 2013

Athletic training work leads MU grad to world soccer stage

Photo - Manchesster University alum Erica Hedges '10 is pictured alongside U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe and several of her coworkers.

Opportunities gained via one of Manchester University’s top-notch academic programs gave recent graduate Erica Hedges a chance of a lifetime this past fall.

Hedges, a 2010 MU graduate, took advantage of her athletic training degree to work with the United States women’s soccer team during their Gold Medal Tour.

Hedges has been working at Athletico (a physical therapy company in Chicago) for just over a year. She was given the opportunity to supervise a soccer tournament in Chicago that covered over 200 teams, which is where she met Hughie O'Malley.

“Hughie, the medical director for the US soccer program, told me about an opening to work with the team on the stretcher crew when they came to our area,” she said. “He knew how much I loved soccer from my work at Dominican University through Athletico. He watched me and some of my co-workers at a big spring tournament and felt we were ready to do something like this.”

The stretcher crew had chances to talk with the squad’s training staff and also meet the players and coaches at the sold-out October 15 match against Germany.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Hedges said. “I gained so much from the match talking with and meeting so many professionals.

“To be working on the sidelines during the match itself was special, too,” she added. “It really is amazing to be in that setting with a big crowd and two great teams playing. I’ll never forget this experience.”

Hedges was quick to pay homage to Dr. Jeff Beer and the staff at Manchester University for the chance.

“Without their work with me as an undergraduate and the opportunities I was provided, this never would have come about,” she said. “(Manchester University’s ) athletic training program is very special.”