Meet Jessica Cohen

She’s one of just a few female athletic trainers working in the NBA

Jessica Cohen is among a select few female athletic trainers working in the NBA.

She credits the University of Arkansas’ graduate athletic training program for preparing her to work with high-level athletes.

“With elite athletes competing for the University of Arkansas’ various athletic teams, I was able to learn the best way to build rapport with some of the most talented athletes around the country,” she said.

Jessica is the assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist for the Portland Trail Blazers. Before that, she worked with WNBA teams Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky. She was also an assistant athletic trainer for the National Lacrosse League’s New England Black Wolves. 

Jessica feels honored to work in a male-dominated industry.

“The organization I work for has never made my role a gender-based issue,” she said. “The Blazers respect me as a clinician in the same way they respect all of the other clinicians on staff. It has been a fantastic experience working with some of the best physical therapists and athletic trainers out there.”

She’s also toured with some fun celebrities over the years. Her favorite? Paula Abdul.

“Working with Paula and everyone else on tour was very similar to working in the NBA in that their livelihood depends on their body’s ability to perform,” she said. “They take their movement preparation, injury prevention and recovery very seriously.”

Jessica said there were a few differences between working with Paula and an NBA player.

“Someone who’s 5’1” versus seven feet tall makes a big difference in how heavy a leg feels,” she joked. “Good thing I learned great body mechanics at U of A.”

Jessica would ultimately like to be named director of health and performance or director of sports medicine for a professional organization.

Jessica Cohen with players

“I hope once I’m in a leadership role I can provide opportunities to mentor and teach other clinicians in the same way I have been taught by the director of health and performance at the Portland Trailblazers,” she said.

Jessica also likes to keep herself in peak physical performance. She was on the women’s swim team when she was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University. Although she doesn’t have as much time to swim these days, she does love to run and work out.

“Whenever I have the opportunity, I try to be outside,” she said. “I love to travel, and I have a nice bucket list of places I would like to go in the future. The nerdy side of me likes to read and do puzzles.”

Here’s a short video from Jessica about how the U of A prepared her for a career in athletic training and physical therapy:

This story is part of a new series featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit the U of A Athletic Training page to learn more about the program.

About the College of Education and Health Professions: The College of Education and Health Professions offers advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities in service to the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. The college provides the education and experiences for a variety of professional roles, ranging from community mental health counselors to school teachers and leaders. Programs in adult and higher education, along with educational technology and sport management, offer a broad range of options. In addition to education-related opportunities, the college prepares nurses, speech-language pathologists, health educators and administrators, recreation professionals, rehabilitation counselors and human performance researchers.

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