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Payton Price Is Breaking Boundaries at North Texas SC

The 24-year-old is the club's first-ever female athletic trainer and only one of three known to be employed by major men's pro teams in North Texas.
By Garrett Tarango |
Price has used her academic background and her side job as a Pilates instructor to bring a well-rounded approach to North Texas SC's training staff.

Earlier this year, North Texas SC, the affiliate team of FC Dallas that competes in the MLS Next Pro league, found itself in need of another trainer. Head trainer Sean Dunbar knew exactly what he was looking for. The ideal candidate would be knowledgeable. Experienced. Hands-on, because, he says, “We like manual therapy here. We’re not just someone who just gives them exercises and says, ‘Do your exercises and then we’ll talk to you afterwards.’”

Just as important, that person needed the right disposition. 

“We were looking for someone who [was] interesting, could carry on a conversation, wasn’t short and sweet and quiet like typical interviews go,” Dunbar says.

As it turns out, Dunbar was looking for Payton Price, a former intern with FC Dallas’ training staff. Dunbar offered Price the position of assistant athletic trainer in February, making her the first-ever female trainer at the club. In fact, Price is only one of three female athletic trainers currently known to be employed by a major men’s team across North Texas, joining Heather Mau of the Mavericks and Ashley Rudolph of the Texas Legends. 

The 24-year-old’s foray into sports medicine began in high school as part of the student athletic training program. She grew up playing soccer, too, but ultimately decided to focus on the classroom over the pitch due to the academic demands of her desired career. Still, her profession allows her to participate in the sport she’s always loved. 

“Athletic training was a happy medium of a career where I could still enjoy sports and be in the business of helping people since I was interested in the medical field as well,” Price says.

Price would go on to attend the University of West Florida, where she dreamt of working in professional soccer after graduation. Her first crack at it came in 2018, during her internship with FC Dallas. For six months, she shadowed the head and assistant athletic trainer in their daily care for the players. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from UWF two years later, and then it was on to Liberty University, where she earned her master’s in kinesiology and exercise science in 2021. 

Fast forward two years, and Price found herself back in Frisco doing what she loves. Her day begins at 6:30 each morning, starting with her filling water bottles. From there, it’s on to reviewing the trainer checklist, rehabbing and warming up players as they come in, and overseeing training to deal with any potential injuries. Once North Texas’ practices conclude around 10 a.m., she sticks around to conduct more player treatment.

One of her edges as a trainer is her side hustle. Outside of the team, Price works with professional athletes as a Pilates instructor, and she considers the exercise to be “a game changer in terms of mobility and strength, especially with dealing with hips and core, which we see a lot of here.”

But as important as her job responsibilities are, how Price goes about them is even more crucial. 

“For an athletic trainer, it’s more about personality,” Dunbar says. “Even if you are having a bad day, you can’t show it.” 

Price described herself as optimistic, versatile, and motivated in her job, the latter being a quality Dunbar’s already observed during her short time with the club.

“Based off our interview, she seemed very approachable and competent with all the questions I asked,” Dunbar said. “Now that she’s here, she’s very hard-working, she’s very determined and obviously she is still very approachable and confident. We love having her around.”

Price is not naive to the reality of being a woman in a male-dominated environment. She knows the stereotypes. She’s always combatted them by letting her work do the talking.

“I hate to say women are looked at as a little bit weaker,” Price says. “Working with football for example, like, ‘Oh, can she lift this?’ or, ‘Hey, can she do treatment on this player?’ when you’re a little bit—I hate to say smaller. I think there’s always a little bit more of a question mark, but women are more than capable of getting the job at the end, so I’ve always just proved myself.”

Price sees her field changing. She’s optimistic that the number of trainers who look like her will only grow in the future. 

“There’s a lot of clubs out here now that are more and more progressive, and as we continue to grow as athletic trainers, it’s more about what you can bring to the table,” Price says. “Having a certain skill set, something that makes you stand out a little bit more and just really being confident in the person that you are, being a good person is more important than anything.”

North Texas SC is glad to have her leading the charge.

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