Extraordinary Game Day Experiences: Paige Canfield

This story is part of the series Extraordinary Game Day Experiences. Read more stories here. »

Paige Canfield, senior from Fuquay-Varina, double majoring in sport management and applied nutrition, sports medicine intern on partial scholarship and sports nutrition volunteer

Working with the football team has been the most extraordinary thing about NC State University. I am in my fourth year as student trainer for the running backs. I feel like I’m part of a family and have so much respect for those guys. At home games, we usually have two students doing sideline water, two running water to the referees and three filling up bottles at the Powerade cart.

I’m getting a topnotch education and valuable experience. I’m truly lucky.

Before I was a Wolfpacker, I attended East Carolina University my freshman year pursuing a degree in nursing. I quickly made the decision that nursing was not for me. Even before I went to ECU, the thought of not going to NC State was hard because it had been my dream to attend this university. I made the best decision of my life to transfer.

NC State has always been home. My entire family attended the university and I was excited to keep the legacy going. I have always been a huge Pack fan. Going to football, basketball and baseball games was my favorite part of growing up. I spent a lot of weekends at Carter-Finley Stadium watching players including Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson. I would always tell my dad that I wished I was on the field to give the team a pep talk.

My family has been season ticket holders since before I was born. I wanted to be part of the football program and now I am. I decided to major in sport management to stay in the sports realm. Sports encompasses a lot more than winning and losing. Participating can change someone’s life. During my junior year, I decided to add applied nutrition as my second major because I found a new passion for nutrition and what it does for the body. I personally have seen my body transform due to paying closer attention to nutrition.

I have been able to grow as an individual and professional at NC State. Candace Vick and Jonathan Casper – associate professors in the College of Natural Resources’ Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management – are just two of the faculty members who have helped me tremendously. This is my second year as a student volunteer with the sports nutrition team under Diana Nguyen and Amanda Poppleton. Working in both sports medicine and nutrition has me running all over campus doing what I love most – serving and representing this university.

I love working with the sports medicine team because the whole staff exceeds expectations. They make our work fun, stress free and a great learning environment. Each student trainer is assigned a group for the year. We are expected to be at every practice and home game. I lucked out with the running backs. Coach Des Kitchings and the players made me feel so welcomed, and they are the main reason I keep coming back.

If you ever wonder where I am, I’m always at the Murphy Center. I was on campus all summer doing nutrition work. I would come in at 5 a.m. and leave around 7 p.m. It was exhausting, but I enjoyed it. Working as a trainer, you really get to know the guys and their preferences. Some players only want water and others, Powerade. Some want ice towels on their neck when it’s hot outside and some absolutely do not tolerate cold towels.

As student trainers, we are responsible for setting up and breaking down water stations for practice and games, and for keeping the athletic training room clean and organized. As a perk, we get to travel to away games. Some of my favorite moments have actually happened away from Carter-Finley. Playing in Clemson last season was awesome. Even though we lost, I was still proud of the guys for making it a dog fight. The atmosphere was unbelievable.

Another favorite moment was working the Notre Dame game last season in hurricane conditions. I don’t think I’ve ever been so soaked. I truly appreciate rain gear now! It’s funny because I remember taping ice bags around my feet to keep them from getting wet. It worked, even though I looked silly. Another laughable moment happened during a Virginia Tech game when a camera guy knocked our water source loose. Water started shooting from the ground, so naturally I jumped on it to try and keep everything around us dry. The ESPN commentators thought this was hilarious, but I looked like I had just taken a shower. One more favorite: beating UNC at their place last season. That was sweet.

Running out on the field at Carter-Finley brings a mix of emotions. It’s overwhelming because thousands of people are screaming and cheering, there are fireworks shooting off and smoke makes it hard to see. But once you get past the initial shock, running out is so hype. Wolfpack fans are the best.

Receiving a scholarship has influenced my experience at NC State by allowing me to do something I love and get compensated for it. I work hard and all of my scholarship goes toward tuition.

I hope to earn my master’s in nutrition and am considering several schools. I also hope to get a graduate assistant position to continue gaining experience in college athletics. My dream is a job as a sports registered dietitian at a university. NC State is bringing me closer to my goals because I’m gaining valuable experience in different areas. I know how departments within a college athletics program work and how they work together.

NC State has given me the tools and resources to problem solve as well as to be the best person I can be. I can’t wait to see how the season unfolds.