Steelers Throwback Thursday: Steelers hire first full-time female athletic trainer
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Almost 18 years ago on July 24th, 2002, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the first NFL team to hire a full-time female athletic director. Ariko Iso was hired as an assistant athletic trainer by the Steelers after interning for their training camps in 2000 and 2001. When Iso was hired, she became the first female athletic trainer in the NFL and the third in male professional sports; the other two being in the NBA.
Iso wanted to be an athletic trainer after suffering an ACL tear while playing basketball and hearing the Oregon State University exercise physiologist speak in Tokyo, Japan, her hometown. Iso then earned her bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and her master’s degree from San Jose State University. Her first athletic training experience came during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. She was then hired by Portland State University and worked with the wrestling, women’s basketball, and track and field programs before becoming the head football athletic trainer. Her next position was with the Steelers in training camp before being hired as an assistant athletic trainer.
Since her work with the Pittsburgh Steelers, she was hired as the head football athletic trainer for Oregon State University on June 10, 2011. After working with the Beavers again, she was hired as the Towson head football athletic trainer on June 6, 2018. Iso also worked with the Dallas Renegades XFL organization this year.
This was not the first time the Pittsburgh Steelers were the first to hire a female athletic trainer. In 1997, the Steelers hired the first-ever female athletic trainer intern, Sue Hillman. She was the first female to ever work in the NFL on an athletic training staff. In 2011, the Steelers hired athletic trainer Sonia Ruef.