SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — When Southern Utah University played Brigham Young University Saturday afternoon, you might have seen something unusual on the Thunderbird’s sidelines.

SUU’s football trainers are all female, led by head trainer Jessie Abbott.

“I grew up always involved in sports, whether I was playing or going to events, so I always had an idea that I wanted to find something in the sports medicine field,” Abbott said.

Abbott graduated from SUU with her masters degree. She’s worked with other sports, including gymnastics last year.

“Our football opportunity came open this summer, and we looked around and talked about who would be the best fit, and boy, she’s as talented and as good as anyone that we could find,” said Doug Knuth, SUU athletic director.

Now, Abbott is in charge of the only all-female football training staff in the state, maybe in the country.

“I really didn’t think anything of it until it was brought to my attention, because to me, it was just a normal day of work, but then when it was brought to my attention, I thought ‘oh yeah, that is pretty cool,’” Abbott said.

According to Knuth, this is a unique experience.

“It’s not something we planned or it wasn’t a strategic decision to do this,” Knuth said.

Head football coach DeLane Fitzgerald said he has seen a revolving door of trainers in his 19 months at SUU, but is happy with Abbott.

“I trust her. There have been athletic trainers that I have had in the past that were a little harder to trust. She’s not afraid of hard work, which was some of the problems that we had in the past. And then she cares. She cares about the student athlete and cares about the young men’s well-being,” Fitzgerald said.

The relationship between the coach and trainer has to be good, because it is not the coach that determines if a player is healthy enough to play — it is up to the head trainer. According to Knuth, the head coach has to trust that those people know what they’re doing.

The players have accepted Abbott, because she works hard and she knows her craft. 

“The guys have been awesome honestly. I mean, it’s the same type of care, right? Me doing the job is no different than a male doing the job, and they’ve been awesome,” Abbott said. “They’ve been really respectful and accepting of me and my students, so it’s been a good experience.”

Knuth said the players care that someone is treating them well and, according to Fitzgerald, she is easy to trust.

“No problem with trusting our players to her,” Fitzgerald said.