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Sideline Hustle

NMSU alums help keep NFL players safe, healthy

Three NMSU alumni are making their mark in the NFL – as athletic trainers.

Xochitl Alvarado ’22, Cayman Greene ’19 and Dillon Gregory ’22 are fairly new to professional football but are already making an impression on their respective teams. While Greene and Gregory in 2023 are both in their second year in their internship with the Arizona Cardinals and apprenticeship with the Houston Texans, respectively, Alvarado is in her second season on the Philadelphia Eagles Athletic Training Team as of fall 2023.

All three credit their NMSU education with helping them prepare for rewarding careers in the NFL and beyond.

Alvarado, a graduate of El Paso High School in El Paso, Texas, earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from NMSU and will graduate with her master’s degree from Pennsylvania Western University in December 2023. 

Alvarado, who played volleyball at El Paso High, says she became interested in athletic training after tearing her ACL as a freshman in high school.

“I needed surgery, and my athletic trainer was there every step of the way,” Alvarado says. “I always wanted to be someone who is able to help the team. I chose NMSU because I wanted to stay close to home, but I didn’t want to be at home, and it ended up being the best thing in the world.”

After joining the Eagles athletic training team as a summer intern, she worked her way to becoming a seasonal athletic trainer. In her first season with the team, Alvarado worked the Super Bowl when the Eagles played the Kansas City Chiefs in February 2023. Her clinical experience and education during her time at NMSU played a tremendous role in preparing her for the NFL. 

“My program director Kim O’ Connell and clinical coordinator Michael Gregory always gave me the opportunity to grow as a student, whether it was by placing me at a unique clinical rotation or in the classroom,” Alvarado says. “My various clinical rotations as a student allowed me to apply my knowledge in different settings and be prepared to handle any adversity that I was faced with.” 

By choosing NMSU, Greene also opted to stay close to home. Greene was born and raised in Las Cruces, and is a Mayfield High School graduate and former member of the Trojan football team.

After getting his collegiate start at Eastern New Mexico, he realized he wasn’t quite on the right track since the school lacked an athletic training program. He transferred to NMSU, where he found the right fit.

“Growing up, I’ve always been involved in sports and I’ve always been really interested in the medical side of things. Athletic training is the best of both worlds,” Greene says. “The AT program at NMSU is really amazing, and they really prepare you for any kind of job you want to get into. Kim (O’Connell) is awesome and makes sure to put you in the clinical rotations that she feels will be able to help you in your career.”

Greene is now an athletic training intern in his second year with the Arizona Cardinals and is in the process of transitioning to an assistant athletic trainer. Although being an athletic trainer, especially in the major leagues, is quite a challenge, Greene calls his experience “amazing.”

“I’ve been able to work with the best of the best athletes, and see how they do their job every day,” Greene says.While Gregory, who holds a master’s degree in communication studies from NMSU, didn’t graduate from NMSU’s athletic training program, his experience at the university has played a key role in him becoming an athletic training apprentice with the Houston Texans.

Gregory is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and holds a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from the University of South Carolina. He chose NMSU after searching for graduate assistant positions in athletics and found one under Dominic Moreno ’03, Aggie Athletics director of sports medicine.

“I wasn’t looking for anywhere in particular. It was more about finding the right fit for me,” Gregory says. “Instead of taking a backseat in an advanced student role, NMSU let me do a lot. Dominic helped give me that freedom, and it was pivotal for me building a lot of experience early on.”

While at NMSU, Gregory was able to complete a second summer internship with the Carolina Panthers, a role he had also completed as an undergraduate student. Once Gregory got his feet wet in the NFL, he went on to his current two-year position with the Texans and hopes to continue rising up in the league.

“I think the greatest thing about my profession is being able to see the process, whether it’s a mild or traumatic injury, and see every phase of the injury, from the rehab process to returning to play,” Gregory says. “Even though it’s a bad thing when athletes come to see us, we do our best to get them back on the field again.”


In summer 2023, Xochitl Alvarado visted the NMSU athletic training program offices in the Stan Fulton Athletics Center. Alvarado marked her second season on the Philadelphia Eagles Athletic Training Team in fall 2023.



In fall 2023, Cayman Greene (center) completed an internship on the Arizona Cardinals Athletic Training Team.




Dillon Gregory (far right) earned a master's degree in communication studies from NMSU, but is fulfilling his dream of being an athletic trainer as an apprentice on the Houston Texans Athletic Training Team.