Los Angeles Lakers elevate Nina Hsieh as Head Athletic Trainer

EL SEGUNDO, California--A glass barrier was broken today, as the Los Angeles Lakers announced Nina Hsieh as the team's Head Athletic Trainer. Hsieh, an Asian American, will be responsible for managing the Lakers training staff and on-court performance; her duties include player care, injury prevention and injury treatment/recovery.

The Cal State Fullerton graduate and Taiwan native is the first woman to serve as Head Athletic Trainer for the Lakers; she previously served in a similar position for the South Bay Lakers, the minor league affiliate of L.A. Lakers. Her seven years with the G-League team had her manage health and wellness initiatives, strength and conditioning programs, equipment and travel, according to a statement issued by the NBA's Lakers.

"Nina has been an invaluable member of the Lakers and South Bay Lakers training staffs for over a decade," Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said in a released statement. "Her wealth of experience, ability to forge relationships of trust with the players, as well as the knowledge and passion she brings to this position, make her the perfect fit for this role, and I couldn’t be more pleased."

Image courtesy Los Angeles Lakers

Image courtesy Los Angeles Lakers

Hsieh is also the first woman to serve as a Head Athletic Trainer for any NBA franchise. She is the one of two Head Athletic Trainers with roots from the Asian continent; Navin Hettiarachchi, a native of Sri Lanka, is the top strength and conditioning executive for the Washington Wizards.

Sue Falsone was the first-ever woman to serve as a Head Athletic Trainer for a major North American sports franchise; she served as the top trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and 2013.

The NFL's Los Angeles Chargers has at least one woman on its athletic training staff - Allison Miner. She works as the team's Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist. A report published by the Chargers in August 2018 stated she is just one of six women in a similar role among the NFL's 32 franchises.

A YouTube video produced by Gatorade stated the NFL has 145 people working in athletic training departments, league-wide, and confirmed 139 of them are men. The video was posted on YouTube in July 2018.

The Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburg Steelers are the NFL teams with women athletic trainers on their respective staffs.

Sue Hillman was hired as an athletic training intern by the Steelers in 1997. The Steelers would hire Ariko Iso as a full-time athletic trainer in 2002; Iso, a native of Tokyo, Japan, is now the Head Athletic Trainer for Towson University's football team.