Keeping It Positive

Israel Diaz '11

Whenever athletic alumni visit campus, they come in droves. Last month, the April 26 alumni social event at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill saw a multitude of alumni representing various teams stretching across a number of years. Those in attendance included former players of the volleyball, women's basketball, and women's and men's soccer teams. While many athletic alumni attended, there was one alumnus who was expected to be there that could not make it. Israel Diaz '11, better known as "Izzi", had to cancel his participation due to work. An alumnus of the men's soccer team, Diaz served as captain in his final year during the 2010-2011 season. His commitment to the soccer program at the College directly complemented his athletic training studies.

"To be honest, soccer was pretty important to me. Playing soccer didn't just affect my education, but my life as well," Diaz stated. "What it did was help me build discipline, which I then incorporated into my life as a whole. Being a sports medicine major, playing at a collegiate level helped me to witness firsthand what I was learning in class."

Among the undergraduate programs offered at MCLA, athletic training is one of the toughest. Certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, students learn in the classrooms and laboratories and must complete 1,000 hours of clinical experience to graduate.

During his experience at MCLA, Diaz has stated that Peter Hoyt, director of athletic training education and assistant professor was his favorite instructor "hands down". Diaz went on to say that Hoyt is "incredibly passionate about his profession, his field of study, and the success of his students. He has built the Athletic Training program from the ground up, and MCLA is lucky to have him as part of their faculty."

After completing the program offered here at MCLA, Diaz chose to continue his education as he felt the need to do more.

"I wanted to go to grad school mostly because I felt the need to further my education. I wasn't burnt out or tired of school by the end of my undergraduate stint, but actually motivated to keep learning and keep growing. I just applied to a couple of schools and was blessed to have gotten into Seton Hall University's Athletic Training Master's program."

Diaz left the comfort of the Berkshire Mountains to move down to the urban atmosphere of New Jersey. Not only did his surroundings change, but what was expected and required of him did as well.

"Grad school was very different from undergrad. It was a lot tougher in respect to having to really discipline yourself. You can't get away with studying last minute or procrastinating. You have to be 100% on top of your game at all times."

It was that very lesson and attitude that led him to an internship with the NFL New York Jets. Juggling graduate classes along with a serious internship was a demanding experience, but Diaz has commented that it was "definitely rewarding".

The fact that he now has his Masters in athletic training was no small feat. Diaz admitted to working diligently to get to where he is today and credited his success to his priorities.

"The most important thing you have to do is set up your priorities. Whether it's a high salary you want, a specific field you want to get yourself into, or if you just want to do something you love... you have to prioritize what needs to get done to achieve those goals... and take those priorities seriously."

As someone who has always been interested in sports, Diaz has found a career that genuinely interests him. Now an athletic trainer at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, an independent institution in Edison, NJ, Diaz has the opportunity to do what he loves every day.

"I love what I do. It's the reason why I decided to go to graduate school for it. The experiences and connections that I've managed to make with athletes and other professionals have been incredible. Every job has its pros and cons, but you have to make sure that at the end of the day, you are happy. I'm always around sports and I'm always helping those around me. It's a perfect combination."

In addition to being an athletic trainer, Diaz also teaches graduate courses part-time at Seton Hall University as adjunct faculty.

With all of his success, it would be easy to believe that Diaz is all work and no play. However, after earning his Masters, Diaz treated himself to backpacking through Europe, something that he has always wanted to do.

"It was an experience of a lifetime," he said. "It was just amazing how that trip even came about. It started off as just a crazy idea and then it ended up being one of the best moments of my life."

Diaz traveled to Europe with fellow MCLA athletic alumnae Lucy Tremblay '13. Tremblay was a player for the Women's Basketball team and recently made an appearance on campus at the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) Second Athletic Alumni Roundtable. Diaz stated, "Being there with her just made it that much better. She is awesome."

When asked what he felt has been the most important thing he has learned throughout his journey, Diaz stated that positivity is key.

"I've learned that wherever you are, whatever you do, or whoever you meet... you have to strive to always be positive. Be thankful for anything you receive in life." Diaz then took things a step further by saying, "Everyone you meet, give them your full attention. Everything you do, do it the best you can. Be a good person, be kind, and listen. Always be positive."

Diaz then said that a high school teacher of his once told him, "When you walk into a room, make a positive change; make your presence cherished and make your absence noticed." This is a saying that Diaz has chosen to live by.

Copyright 2015 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts