Lea Thomann

Sr. Manager, Sports Medicine
U.S. Soccer Federation


Sport Performance


Nina Ellmann, U.S. Soccer Referee Programs Associate

Can you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Ohio and lived in Pennsylvania until 8th grade. I grew up being active and playing whatever sport was in season – mostly volleyball, basketball, and softball. Just before high school, I moved to southern California and loved it so much I stayed for 22 years! I was fortunate to know from a young age that I wanted to pursue a career in sports medicine, which led me to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training from San Diego State University, as well as my Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. I’ve had many unique opportunities in my career and working in multiple settings has only contributed to my passion to help individuals in the areas of functional evaluation, rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise, and injury prevention.  I relocated to Chicago in 2018 to pursue the opportunity to work with U.S Soccer and help build our sports medicine team. I absolutely LOVE what I do and enjoy sharing that passion with others.


My family lives in Seattle and Milwaukee. I have three half siblings, and am supported by a wonderful group of family and friends, as well as my fat orange cat, Crush.

How would you describe your job? 

As the Senior Manager of Sports Medicine at U.S. Soccer, I support on and off field delivery and management of medical services. My role was strategically created during the development of the High Performance department at U.S. Soccer to improve health care provision and to enrich policy and procedures for player safety and wellness for the Youth and Senior National Teams. My responsibilities encompass management and mentoring of a large network of multi-disciplinary medical providers as well as collaboration with external consultant medical staff to the Federation.



What does your day-to-day look like at work?

My days are always different! They can encompass meetings regarding specific department projects we are launching, often include communication with our athletic training and physical therapy staff related to details of an upcoming National Team camp in which they are participating, or working with our sport scientists to guide our athletes on return to play recommendations following an injury. Additionally, I oversee all our network staffing for National Team camps, which means I commonly train and mentor new providers and schedule medical coverage for our teams when they are on the road.



All pathways are different, how did you get to where you are?


It was a lot of hard work, combined with a little bit of luck! As I mentioned, I knew since high school that I wanted to be an athletic trainer and physical therapist. So, I volunteered at my high school, and my athletic trainer became a significant mentor to me. I went to San Diego State University (SDSU) for my undergraduate degree, then to the University of Southern California for physical therapy school where I earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. After that, I worked clinically for four years as a physical therapist and was also an athletic trainer with a soccer team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) for over ten seasons. I transitioned to teaching at a university and becoming the Program Director for Athletic Training at SDSU. All the while, I remained active in the clinic and in the soccer community. I worked there for six years before taking on my current role here at U.S. Soccer. I would say all the different experiences I’ve had along the way have prepared me for my role as the Senior Manager of Sports Medicine at U.S. Soccer.


What advice would you give to women who might not know what direction in the sports industry is right for them?

If you can identify what you’re passionate about, that’s a good place to start. Also, try to gain exposure to multiple environments to see what piques your interest. Learn about the sport(s) or departments you may want to work with by being an active participant and being involved. Usually it starts with volunteering and building relationships. In the sports world, building a trusted reputation and rapport with others, as well as managing your ego and staying humble is very important.