Combining athletic training, biometrics gives UNO student unique baseball edge

A UNO student's path to The Show might be unconventional -- but he's putting in the work.
Published: Jul. 3, 2023 at 9:09 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across cultures and disciplines, 26-year-old Tomo Ide’s path to ‘the show’ has been both ordinary and extraordinary.

Ordinary - in his time spent as an intern in the minor leagues with the Iowa Cubs, and the ribbing that goes with it.

Extraordinary in the combination of his expertise that uniquely positions him for a future in baseball, assisting in the pioneering studies at the UNO Pitching Lab while working on his doctoral studies as a recipient of the prestigious Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society’s Livingood Scholarship.

“After high school, I felt like ‘I’m done with baseball’, but still I love baseball, Ide said. And when I was a freshman in college (in Japan), I found out about athletic training in the United States, which kind of combines my interest of English and sports science. Since then, I kind of dreamed to come to the United States to be an athletic trainer and here I am.”

This is the second summer he has served as an intern with the AAA Iowa Cubs, working alongside experienced trainers Ed Halibur and Logan Severson. Severson recognizes Tomo’s experience withthe UNO Pitching Lab makes him more than your average intern.

“The knowledge he’s bringing over from some of the things he’s seeing on the pitching side (at UNO), and working with our guys every day, its been kind of fun to see,” Severson said.

Fortunately, the language of baseball is universal. Tomo’s English is solid, his Spanish is improving and a year ago, he even had the chance to speak a little Japanese when Seiya Suzuki was in Iowa on a rehab stint.

“It’s kind of interesting because pretty much I learned athletic training in English, so it was kind of hard to explain (the therapy) in Japanese, but it was kind of a good opportunity to practice in Japanese,” he said. Even more beneficial was the chance to learn from Suzuki’s personal trainer, who is also Japanese and has more than ten years working professionally with players in Japan and the U.S.

Tomo’s father and brother are both acupuncturist’s back in Japan, while his sister is an occupational therapist. Having those disciplines in the family adds yet another tool Tomo’s skill set.

“I think dry needling is becoming more common in the United States, pretty similar to acupuncture, using the needles,” he said.

“We’re doing a little bit of dry needling here, which is obviously not the same as acupuncture, but he’s getting a good exposure to that as well,” Severson said.

After completing his Masters at UNO and earning his athletic trainer certification, Tomo now has three years remaining on his doctoral studies, if the major leagues don’t come calling first.

“Thankfully I got the opportunity to do both athletic training and do the research and hopefully I can be the bridge between prevention and performance,” he said. “Hopefully both aspects (can help me) to get the opportunity to work in Major League Baseball in the future.”

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