Ariko Iso, OSU Exercise and Sport Science graduate, is the National Football League’s first female athletic trainer.
When she was 14 and living in Japan, Ariko Iso didn’t appear headed to the NFL–or even to the U.S. Then she suffered an ACL injury playing sports, and during her recovery she had the opportunity to talk to college athletic trainers. That experience convinced her that she wanted to be a Certified Athletic Trainer herself–and that she wanted to go to college in the United States.
At that point, she says, a little luck entered the picture. She and her parents met then-Exercise and Sport Science department head Chris Zauner, who was lecturing in Japan. They talked about the possibility of her attending Oregon State. A short time later she was studying at OSU, receiving her degree in 1993 with an option in athletic training.
She worked as a trainer for college women’s and men’s basketball teams, eventually making an NFL contact at a conference.
Five years later, after a lot of hard work, perseverance, and two summer internships, she was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant athletic trainer. She’s now in her second year of experiencing life as an NFL trainer.