Koza: Kalida graduate Rampe lands job with Los Angeles Dodgers

It is a long way from Limaland to Los Angeles, and the path that Neil Rampe has taken from Kalida to becoming the head athletic trainer for Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers is an incredible journey, to say the least.

The 1996 Kalida High School graduate has worked as a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota. Then Neil served as a certified athletic trainer at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado. From there, he went on to spend five years at the University of Arizona where he served as an associate director for performance enhancement. Not done there, how about over to pro baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, where Rampe was the D-Backs’ manual and performance therapist from 2008 to November 2015. And then the week before Thanksgiving, the L.A. Dodgers called and asked Neil to come out to LA for an all day interview. Neil was offered the position of head athletic trainer for one of pro sports’ biggest franchises 45 minutes after leaving the interview. That is a wild ride from Kalida for sure!

But Neil certainly remembers where he is from.

“I often think of Dick Kortokrax at Kalida and the lessons he taught of life and sports and how you get places,” Rampe told me live from Atlanta on Wednesday on “Koza in the Morning.”

And Rampe still has family in Kalida, and speaking of family — he and his wife recently welcomed their first child into the Rampe household — a baby girl. And would you believe, Liv Rampe was born on Opening Day! Talk about impeccable timing!

Neil is currently in Atlanta this week where the Dodgers are playing the Braves.

As the Dodgers’ head athletic trainer, Rampe oversees a 30-person sports medicine and performance staff in the entire organization. He is involved with the parent club — the Dodgers — on a day in, day out basis. He travels with the team for every game, and anticipates with the 162 game schedule played over 180 days, he will get two to three days off total each month for the next six months.

That’s a grind.

His daily routine is a grind, too.

For a 7:10 p.m. start in Atlanta, Rampe got to the ballpark Tuesday around noon.

After doing some administrative work, he worked on the early arrivals of Dodger players. Then its game day prep, rehab, and treatment, before having dinner and then, “heading to the dugout, eating some sunflower seeds, hoping nobody gets injured and hoping the team gets a “W”.

Oh and then after the game, it’s more players’ treatment and then Neil finally gets to leave the ballpark around midnight.

Then, you do it all over again the next day.

Sound like fun?

Well, Rampe is enjoying his new gig.

“I feel very fortunate and despite the busy schedule we do get back (to Kalida) for holidays and keep in touch. Family is very important to me.”

And the good news, the Dodgers will be nearby Limaland later next month.

They play in Chicago for a series beginning May 30.

Later this season, L.A. is in Pittsburgh for a series starting June 24, and they will be in Cincinnati to battle the Reds beginning Aug. 19.

Much closer paths from Kalida, but this L.A. journey for the young man from Putnam County has been a special trip indeed.

And he remembers where he is from, too.

Neil Rampe is special to me!

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By Vince Koza

Contributing Columnist

You can comment to Vince Koza at [email protected]