Neil Rampe ’00 has always loved athletics. It’s been in his blood since he was a youngster growing up with his three brothers in Kalida, Ohio, a village just over an hour southwest of Toledo.
But as fate would have it, it would be an unfortunate athletic incident in high school that would lead him down the path to where he is now, as the head trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which appeared in the World Series in late October as the National League Champion.
“I tore my meniscus my junior year, and I had to go to therapy with an athletic trainer,” Rampe said. From there, he got his first glimpse into the life of professional trainers who work with athletes. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is kind of cool that you can make a living working with athletes in the healthcare and sports medicine field,” Rampe said.
The University of Findlay provided the avenue and unique situation Rampe needed to begin pursuing his dream.
“Findlay was one of the only schools that was going to let me be a part of the athletic training program, and also be an athlete,” Rampe said.
While a student at Findlay, Rampe juggled classwork and playing for the soccer team. Rampe says his time at Findlay felt like home, and shaped him into a well-rounded person.
“There was a sense of community throughout the athletic training program, my time in the dorms, and supporting fellow athletes,” Rampe said. “I feel like I left the university with a well-balanced life experience that reached beyond books and the classroom.”
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education with emphasis in strength and conditioning in 2000, and then sought work with UF’s strength coach at the time, Cal Dietz.
“I remember going to Cal, and basically saying, ‘I’ll work for you for free to have a key to the weight room,’ Rampe said. “So I worked with Cal during the 1999 to 2000 school year.”
After following Cal to the University of Minnesota and finishing his masters degree there, Rampe headed west to the University of Arizona, where he was the associate director of performance from 2003 to 2008. After his work in the college ranks was completed, the Arizona Diamondbacks came knocking.
Hired in February 2008, Rampe was a manual and performance therapist for the Diamondbacks until 2015.
“I was a utility guy for them at the time,” Rampe said. “I did a little bit of everything.”
Rampe has gone from being a manual and performance therapist with the Arizona Diamondbacks, to overseeing a wide range of duties as head athletic trainer while keeping players in shape with the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
“I’m overseeing all sports medicine and medical services for the Major League team, as well as overseeing Minor League staff members as well,” he said.
Rampe enjoys keeping the Dodgers in peak physical condition, as well as reaping the rewards of being part of a very successful team. But some of his proudest moments as a member of the team have come when his family is in the stands.
“The memories that are most special for me are when my wife (Laura) and daughter (Liv) were able to be with me to celebrate,” Rampe said. “That is the coolest part of the whole thing. I have some great pictures that I’ll be able to go to my grave with, holding my daughter in the clubhouse and celebrating with the team. It’s pretty special when you have special ones to be able to share those moments with.”