“I really can’t say enough about the experiences I had at Central. They were phenomenal.”
– Shane Nelson ’11
For Shane Nelson ’11, baseball was life. It was a family thing, a love affair he carries.
He grew up around the softball fields his parents played on. They took him to minor and major league ballparks in the summer. He started playing as soon as he could. His brothers played in college.
Nelson, a native of Iowa City, naturally gravitated toward baseball as a career. He interned with the Iowa Cubs during the summer between his junior and senior years at Central College. Another internship with the parent club, the Chicago Cubs, at their spring training facility in the spring of his senior year led directly to a job.
Nelson spent a year working as an athletic trainer for the Cubs’ rookie league team in Mesa, Arizona. He then headed back to the Midwest for two summers, working for Cubs’ Single-A affiliates in Peoria, Illinois, and Geneva, Illinois.
He moved to Double-A and Knoxville, Tennessee, for the 2014-15 seasons and back to the I-Cubs in Des Moines for the 2016-17 seasons.
“Central prepared me well, but I also had a lot of learning to do,” Nelson says. “That’s not a knock on the program at all. I passed my board exam the first time. I felt comfortable with that. I felt comfortable with treatments and evaluations and doing everything I needed to do. But there’s just no way to prepare to start making those decisions yourself.
“But that feeling of, ‘Hey, this is your guy to rehab or this is your team to monitor,’ that’s something Central did an outstanding job preparing me for. When I was out on my own island, when I was the guy, I felt confident in my ability to not freak out. Central gave me that feeling of, ‘I got this.’”
Nelson took a year off from baseball and athletic training before getting back into it at Boise State University in Idaho. Through a connection with the Broncos’ coach, who had been a manager in the Cubs’ organization, he joined the baseball program in January 2019. Boise State is starting a baseball program for the first time since 1980.
Through the process and throughout his time with the Cubs, Nelson leaned on the familiar from Central for advice. John Roslien, associate professor of exercise science and director of athletic training, was there from afar, every step of the way.
“Every time John was in Arizona, we would meet up for dinner. I’ve always kept in touch with him and keep in touch with most of the professors I had in the program,” says Nelson, who is pursuing his master’s degree at Boise State. “That’s really unheard of at most schools. I really can’t say enough about the experiences I had at Central. They were phenomenal.”