Exercise and sport sciences major Michael Vigneau '03 and athletic training major Zac Kershaw '16, from Springfield, N.H., are birds of an Eagle feather. Vigneau is associate director of sports medicine at Boston College and an athletic trainer for the B.C. Eagles' football team; Kershaw is soaring to new heights thanks in part to a game-changing opportunity from Vigneau.

B.C.'s sports medicine team often drafts Boston-area athletic training students to support its August preseason camp. When Vigneau had an opening on his intern roster, he thought of his alma mater and contacted Exercise and Sport Sciences Clinical Professor and Head Athletic Trainer Scott Roy, who had mentored Vigneau during his internship with Dartmouth College's football team.

It was up to Roy to select the student who would be the best fit for the internship. A few came to mind, but he presented the opportunity to Kershaw. “Division I can be an intimidating environment; hard work and long hours are expected,” said Roy. “I knew Zac would put his head down, work hard, get along with people and be professional.”

“The people you impress with your work ethic are the people who can provide you with opportunities,” said Kershaw.

Kershaw leapt at the chance. “I said yes because it allowed me Division I clinical experience and the opportunity to connect with well-established professionals in my career path, including some of the best-known athletic training names in New England,” he said. “I took advantage of learning from six certified athletic trainers. I asked questions, and they taught me how to tape ankles, provide select rehab treatments and remove staples. I was able to see injuries and conditions that were new to me.”

Kershaw's impressive performance during his 220.5-hour internship caught the attention of B.C. Head Athletic Trainer Stephen Bushee. As Kershaw prepared to leave camp to begin his sophomore year at Colby-Sawyer, Bushee called him into his office and asked him to consider returning to B.C. in the fall to work all the home football games, including a bowl game, plus two road games. Kershaw clocked 37 hours of Division I game coverage that fall, a proud achievement for the athletic trainer in training.

“It was an exhilarating experience. I gained vital information and made connections for my future,” said Kershaw. “But the most significant thing I learned is that you never know who is watching you. It's important to put effort into everything you do because the people you impress with your work ethic are the people who can provide you with opportunities.”

“As alumni, it is our responsibility to offer opportunities,” said Vigneau.

Vigneau is always watching out for Colby-Sawyer students. “As alumni, it is our responsibility to offer opportunities, when we can, to help students find their direction. And it benefits everyone,” he said. “If I'm able to help strong students get good experiences in the field, then they are able to strengthen their reputation, the school's reputation, and provide greater recognition for Colby-Sawyer and its programs.”

During his years at Colby-Sawyer, Vigneau admits he wasn't sure in which direction to take his career. Returning to his native Millbury, Mass., Vigneau worked as an orthopedic technician at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he met his wife, Shari, and was certified in strength and condition. In 2004, he earned his athletic training certification and became a resident trainer for B.C. football. He was named assistant director for sports medicine in September 2006. During this time, Vigneau earned his master's degree in education administration from B.C. He was promoted to his current position of associate director for football sports medicine in September 2012.

Vigneau, a self-proclaimed “MassGuy,” lives in Walpole with Shari and their sons, Connor and Evan. “Massachusetts is my home,” he said. “I consider myself very lucky to have been able to get a job with Division I football here.”

As for Kershaw, he started his first clinical rotation this fall with Dartmouth football, just as Vigneau did while at Colby-Sawyer. “I have always known that I wanted to be an athletic trainer,” said Kershaw. “I may pursue graduate studies, physical therapy school, or look into becoming a physician extender, but I know for sure will become an athletic trainer.”

NOTE: Kershaw is currently pursuing a master's degree in athletic training at Old Dominion University.