Dr. Lea Thomann: US Soccer Federation Senior Manager of Sports Medicine

Dr. Lea Thomann from the US Soccer Federation joins the show to discuss sports careers connected to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

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Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast.

As I search for guests to pique your interest I’m always looking for fields I haven’t covered. Yes, there are more perspectives to learn and share on sales, marketing, and operations…and we will continue to do so... but there are also many fields out there that deserve attention and discussion that we haven’t ventured into yet.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been meeting with college professors all over the nation, discussing our Sports Career Game Plan online materials, and one thing became abundantly clear to me

There are a ton of people in Kinesiology programs. A fancy world for the study of how the body moves. 

Athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports scientists, medical doctors - they all start with kinesiology. 

Now I hate to sound naive, this is just me being transparent,  I always think of the business of sports, because that is my personal background. But there is a gigantic swath of the sports industry that is less connected to the dollar signs behind the marquis events, and more connected to athlete performance and recovery. 

Sports are very connected to STEM, science technology, engineering and mathematics, careers. Kinesiology is a perfect example of this - sports through the lens of science. 

But, in this section of the sports industry, women are poorly represented. Women constitute about half of the college-educated workforce in the United States, but just a quarter of STEM professionals are female. This STEM gender gap has impacted perceptions of women in STEM and trickles down to younger generations.

The US soccer federation is looking to help change those results by joining forces with IF/THEN a leading group supporting women in STEM careers.

I bring guests on this show to act as a blueprint for all of you -- a map of sorts, presenting you options, introducing you to potential paths, guiding you through the journey and showing you what is possible.

Today’s guest is the perfect role model for all of our listeners attracted to the potential of STEM careers in sports - Dr. Lea Thomann Senior Manager of Sports Medicine for the U.S. Soccer Federation, the official governing body for soccer in the US. 

Here is Lea Thomann…


Questions for Lea Thomann, US Soccer Federation Senior Manager of Sports Medicine


1: I want to dig deep into the High Performance support team within the US Women’s National team and your background in sports medicine, but before we get into all that let’s start big picture…

Over the years of this podcast I’ve interviewed many female executives in the sports industry with the hopes it acts as a bullhorn to young women, screaming out “you can do this too!”. Specific to your world in sports medicine and even broader in STEM, what is the message you want to send to young women who will listen to this podcast episode?

2: What about you personally, when and how did you figure out working in the sports medicine realm was your industry fit?

3: You received your bachelor’s in athletic training at San Diego State, then your doctorate in physical therapy at USC, not long after that you are the head athletic trainer for the San Diego Sea Lions of the Women’s Premier Soccer League – and working in physical therapy – what was this first experience working with a professional team like?

4: What is game day like for you? You were with the Sea Lions for over 8 years and the last two with US Soccer Federation – do you watch the game like a fan, or are you always on edge trying to see how players are responding on the pitch, or reacting to collisions – what is that like?

5: How important was it for you to build your reputation and network within women’s professional soccer – from the outside it sure looks like your experience with the Sea Lions directly connects you to higher roles in Women’s soccer…

6: You came to the US Soccer Federation in 2018 as senior manager of sports medicine, part of the High-Performance support team for the 2019 World Cup winning women’s team – as fans we see the games and the final results but we don’t see all the work that goes into getting to the championship moment – what is that like, to work so hard and then see it culminate in a World Cup title?

7: The high-performance support team is a relatively new creation – can you explain a little more about the components of the group, how you fit in, and why it is such a valued piece of the US Soccer federation?

8: You were instrumental in helping form and support the staff and build out the processes in sports medicine – was this a daunting challenge, creating an all-star team of experts in their disciplines and a unifying process?

9: How much has the athletic training and player development world changed over the last 10 years? It feels like there is so much more data, science and resources to get athletes to peak performance, is that accurate?

10: In your view where does the high-performance world go from here – what excites you about the future?

11: Do you see more pro teams, college teams and national teams developing these holistic programs like US Soccer’s High Performance support team in the future? are the opportunities growing??


By Brian Clapp | October 23, 2019
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