Trevor Hunt MSAT '21 Pursues NFL Dream With Las Vegas Raiders
When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered the cardiac arrest seen around the world on a Monday Night Football game Jan. 2, 2023, the spotlight fell instantly on the athletic trainers who rushed to his side and began administering the treatments that saved his life.
Trevor Hunt MSAT ’21 was one of those paying close attention. As an athletic trainer for the receivers of the Las Vegas Raiders, the Pacific alumnus recognized that his counterparts on the Bills were responding with practiced professionalism, applying external defibrillation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the stricken player — even as they compartmentalized the shock that most viewers felt when Hamlin collapsed.
“Really, it’s a testament of education, experience on what you do in those moments,” he said from his Las Vegas home. “Do you act frizzled and frightened … or do you act with calm, cool composure?”
Hunt said it’s the essential nature of an athletic trainer, an EMT or any first responder who confronts a medical emergency to first run through the procedures and protocols he’s been trained to practice.
“Then, after the fact, you can show your human emotions.”
Hunt’s journey to the Raiders’ sideline wasn’t a straight line from college. He was an undeclared major as a freshman at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas when he tore a knee ligament while playing lacrosse. That exposed him — “fortunately, unfortunately” — to the world of physical therapy and athletic training.
He was intrigued and impressed by the experience, and changed his major to kinesiology, graduating in 2017 with his bachelor’s degree (and recovering to play competitive lacrosse the rest of his college career).
For two years after graduation, he sold residential real estate in the Las Vegas market, but he said he never felt a passion for that work. As he re-evaluated his situation, he decided to pursue a further education in a field of physical rehabilitation that was connected to sports, seeking a postgraduate education in athletic training. He wanted to find a program that provided professional sports experience, and he saw that at Pacific University, which, importantly for him, happens to be on the West Coast.
As a Pacific athletic training student, he worked as a protégé of Rich Campbell, trainer and strength and conditioning coach for the Portland Winterhawks, a professional junior hockey league team. Hunt said the experience was priceless. His Pacific education gave him exactly what he wanted, he said.
“I loved my time there,” he said. “Even talking to colleagues now, rattling off what we had there, the professional campus, their jaws drop.
“They say ‘No way, you guys had human cadavers? You guys had this, you had that.’ It wasn’t until I left that I realized how spoiled I was there.”
Hunt owes his place in the National Football League to one very long weekend day when he was at Pacific.
“I decided to sit down and write a cover letter and a specific resumé allotted for 32 NFL teams,” he said. “It took me nine or 10 hours or so.” The next morning, he sent the customized letters and resumes to each of the 32 NFL teams and considered himself finished, burned out.
He heard back from four teams: the Chicago Bears, the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Raiders. His first interview was for a summer internship with the Raiders, which appealed to him because the Raiders are a newly relocated franchise with new equipment and facilities, a well-regarded staff, and situated in the West.
The eight-week internship went well, Hunt thought, but when it ended, he accepted an offer to establish an athletic training program at a high school in Quincy, Wash. Two months after he started, the Raiders called back and offered him a two-year contract as what’s known as a rotational athletic trainer. He accepted, then finished the high school sports season in Quincy.
When the high school sports season ended in April, he left Quincy on a Friday morning at 3 a.m., drove all the way to Las Vegas, arriving about 10 p.m. He started with the Raiders that Monday.
He spent his first season in 2022-2023 as a rotational trainer and continued to work in the postseason with Raider athletes who are rehabbing from surgeries or injuries. He hopes the job leads to a full-time, permanent job as an NFL athletic trainer, and he trusts it will.
His journey has been, he said, “a dream come true.”
(Photos courtesy of Trevor Hunt)