From college to the pros
Leichtenberger hired as athletic trainer by the Minnesota Twins
Amy McMeans said it best about her daughter, Morgan Leichtenberger: “This girl can do anything she puts her mind to.”
“I can’t express my excitement in joining the Minnesota Twins organization next year for my first full-time job in professional baseball,” said Leichtenberger, a Sheffield High School and Penn State University athletic training graduate.
“This season, I had an amazing experience with the Dodgers in Arizona and I can’t thank the organization enough for the opportunities I was given,” she said. “I’ll be relocating to Fort Myers (Florida) in January! I’m so thankful for all that Arizona has given me and can’t wait to start this huge next chapter.”
Prior to the Dodgers, Leichtenberger was training with the Division I Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.
“After I graduated from Penn State in 2020, I took the national board exam to become a certified athletic trainer,” said Leichtenberger. “In July of 2020, I moved out to Arizona to start my master’s degree in athletic training (an advanced degree). While in grad school, I was assigned a graduate assistant position working as an athletic trainer at Chandler Preparatory Academy, a small 2A high school. I graduated in June of this year and then immediately started a position with the L.A. Dodgers. I applied on the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) website, which posts jobs for all MLB teams. The position was for a seasonal internship, which just means I wasn’t a full-time staff member, but worked the entirety of the season. A seasonal position is a very common first step for those that want to work in professional baseball. It gets your foot in the door, and you learn everything there is to know about an organization under the help of their full-time medical staff.
“With the Dodgers, I was working at their spring training complex in Glendale, Arizona, as an athletic training associate,” she said. “Each MLB team now has AAA, AA, High-A, Low-A and rookie ball, which plays at each of the teams’ complexes — Arizona Complex League (ACL) or Florida Complex League (FCL).”
She added: “Rookie ball plays a 60-game season from June to August, and I worked with the two full-time ACL athletic trainers covering that team. We also assisted with long-term rehabs and return-to-play progressions for players that got hurt at other affiliates. They’d come back to Arizona for rehab assignments, so I met a lot of players throughout the organization, not just those on the rookie ball team.”
After the season, Leichtenberger became a free agent, so to speak.
“This season with the Dodgers reassured that I did want to work in professional baseball and went back to the PBATS website looking for full-time jobs,” she said. “My position with the Dodgers was only for this season, so I was able to apply for positions with any team. The job I got with the Twins is with their Florida Complex League, like what I was doing with the Dodgers. I’ll be working with two other female athletic trainers, which is something I am very, very excited for. I’ll be heading to Florida in January and will be there for spring training and then stay at the complex for the FCL season. My main responsibility will be providing medical care for the Twins’ FCL team, providing treatment and injury care as well as practice and game coverage.”
An athletic trainer for a nationally-ranked D1 football program that plays in front of 100,000 people, the big leagues aren’t going to scare Leichtenberger off.
“There’s already been so many amazing experiences I’ve had over the last couple years,” she said. “All my clinical rotations at Penn State, seeing the success of different athletes I’ve worked with and all the athletes I was able to help at Chandler Prep as my first job as an athletic trainer. Correctly diagnosing my first ACL tear in an athlete was definitely exciting, and the first time I had to call an ambulance for an athlete was scary, but in the end I was prepared and got them the care they needed. The job is never easy. Working with difficult coaches, arguing about policies or return-to-play progressions is definitely one of the hardest parts of the job. I’ve learned to stand up for not only myself and my decisions as a clinician, but the athletic training profession as a whole. Going from being the only athletic trainer in a high school to one of many clinicians in baseball was a hard adjustment. Professional baseball is all about staying in your lane, and knowing your role. I never knew how many people went into decision making, including the front office, all coaching staff, coordinators, etc. You are only one small piece of the puzzle, but it was really eye-opening realizing how many people are there to help and all want the same goal.”
It’s Major League Baseball.
“It’s absolutely unreal thinking about having a full-time position as an athletic trainer in professional baseball,” said Leichtenberger. “I grew up in and around the sport. I’ve always loved the game of baseball so it’s bittersweet knowing it’s become part of my career.”
The Sunshine State seems like an appropriate next destination.
As Morgan posted on her Facebook page:
“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”
— Yogi Berra