Byron Bird’s name has been synonymous with athletic training at Oklahoma State University since he became a student athletic trainer there in 1946. Bird, who graduated in 1949, became his alma mater’s football athletic trainer in 1950. Eleven years later he became the Cowboys’ athletic trainer for all sports and has been extensively involved in the OSU athletic training program ever since. (from www.nata.org)
James “Doc” Johnson
James “Doc” Johnston, a charter member of the NATA, has been credited with encouraging several of his student athletic trainers to further their education in the athletic training profession. Johnston got his start in athletic training in 1910 in the Oklahoma high school system. He went on to become one of the most respected athletic trainers in the state. Johnston trained for Tulsa and Oklahoma State Universities as well as serving for a number of semi-pro football teams, AAU tournaments and boxing clubs. (from www.nata.org)
From the day of his arrival at Oklahoma University in 1953, Ken Rawlinson was respected for his burning ambition and total dedication in his athletic training duties. Rawlinson, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942 with an M.S. degree, gained the same national prominence among his peers that Oklahoma University football teams earned. In addition to many lectures, demonstrations and awards, Rawlinson was the original author of Modern Athletic Training, a comprehensive athletic training reference for daily care of athletes. (from www.nata.org)
John “Skip” Wagnon was a member of the UCO athletic family for more than 30 years, including 17 as athletic director.He served as a student athletic trainer for the Bronchos during his undergraduate days in the late 1960s, then came to UCO in 1971 as head athletic trainer.Wagnon was named executive director of Alumni Association in 1979 and served in that capacity until taking over as the athletic director and golf coach in 1986. Skip oversaw UCO’s move from NAIA to NCAA Division II and the Lone Star Conference in the late 1980s and under his guidance Broncho athletic teams flourished. UCO captured dozens of conference titles in various sports during Wagnon’s tenure while also competing for national honors and annually ranking as one of the top overall athletic programs in NCAA Division II.
Wagnon spent 18 years during his stint as UCOs golf coach, leading the Bronchos to eight national tournaments – two in NAIA and six in NCAA Division II. He coached 13 Division II All-Americans, including the school’s only national golf champion. Skip, who didn’t miss a UCO home football game for more than 30 years, retired as athletic director in June 2003, and was immediately voted into the UCO Athletic Hall of Fame for his many contributions and great dedication to UCO athletics.
He was named to the Lone Star Conference Hall of Honor in 2004.
In 1969, Norman High School was the first high school in Oklahoma to hire a Certified Athletic Trainer. Oklahoma Athletic Trainer Association Hall of Fame Member Dan Quinn, ATC, served as the athletic trainer for 25 years, while working his way up to the principal position at Norman High School.
Dr. George Mauerman
A prominent orthopedic physician in Tulsa, Dr. Mauerman has assisted Holland Hall through the years. His love of sports and generous times and gifts to Holland Hall has benefited many athletes. His daughters are Holland Hall graduates, he has graced the sidelines of many Holland Hall sporting events, and still assists Holland Hall athletes as needed. He is currently a team physician with The University of Tulsa, Oral Roberts, and the Tulsa Drillers. (from http://www.hollandhall.org)
Dr. James Rhymer
Dr. James Rhymer is a Clinton native and the grandson of Dewey County pioneers. After graduation from Leedy High School, Rhymer attended Southwestern where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1951. He continued his studies at Southwestern and completed his pharmacy degree in 1954. Rhymer then attended the University of Pittsburgh Medical School in Pittsburg, Pa., graduating in 1959. He interned from 1959-60 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. For six years following graduation from medical school, Rhymer was in the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Division assigned as battalion surgeon of the 1/245th Armored Battalion and later as flight surgeon for the 45th Division. He established his private practice in Clinton in 1961. Additional associations include being president of the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Examiners and serving on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality.
He served every year as physician for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Elks Major Projects Cadet Lawman Academy at Burns Flat. For years, Rhymer has provided medical expertise to the SWOSU athletic teams, athletic trainer program and the university’s SCUBA program. He has been a guiding force for medical treatment and rehabilitation for many SWOSU students, athletes, faculty and staff.
It was not uncommon to see Dr. Rhymer in the SWOSU athletic training room until later hours of the night, the SWOSU pool during SCUBA, on an open water dive of on the sideline of football games at both home and away contests. His famous tootsie rolls have broken the ice many times with SWOSU students, athletes, and spectators.
Rhymer and his wife, Colleen, have three children- Jim Bob, Kenny, and Gwili.
Dr. James Ryhmer passed away in 2002.
Charles H. Tennessen
Chuck Tennessen received his Associate’s Degree from Garden City Junior College in 1956. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in St. Louis in 1961. Chuck entered private practice in 1961 at Frederick Chiropractic Clinic where he remained until 1967. From 1968 to 1975 he served as head athletic trainer at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He was an athletic trainer and science teacher from 1975 until 1989 at Hobart High School. Tennessen then moved to Altus in 1989 where he was Altus High School athletic trainer until 1995. Tennessen is now retired and volunteers his services and skills to athletes from his home town of Frederick.
Dr. Jeff Fair
Dr. Fair is in his twelfth year at the Naval Academy, was the head Athletic Trainer at Oklahoma State for 25 years before coming to Annapolis.Fair was an Adjunct Associate Professor, a member of the Graduate Faculty and the Coordinator of Sports Medicine and Athletic Training at Oklahoma State. He has also been an Adjunct Faculty and Clinical Instructor at Oklahoma Osteopathic College and a Clinical Instructor in Physical Therapy and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Langston University.
Fair graduated from Kent State with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1971. He received his master’s in health, physical education/counseling and guidance from North Dakota in 1974 and in 1987, he earned his Ph. D. in higher education/physical education from Oklahoma State.
Fair has been responsible for several inventions that demonstrate his knowledge in the training field, including the “Cowboy Collar,” which he designed and patented in 1988, and the “Sprained Ankle Orthoses.” He is married to the former Carolyn Mallon from Springfield, Va., and has two sons, Jeffrey and Justin.
Sam graduated from Panhandle A&M College in 1967 and went on as a graduate assistant to Kansas State Teachers College and received a Master’s Degree in 1969. His career took him from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo Texas to Big Spring High School in Big Spring Texas to Central High School in San Angelo Texas. In 1974, Sam started to work for Alert Services. Her serviced the West Texas territory to countless AT’s in the state of Oklahoma. Along with his duties for Alert, Sam also has been volunteer AT for Shawnee Schools from 1981-1997. Sam also found time during his career to volunteer for numerous All State Games in both Texas and Oklahoma and he was invited by the Mexican Olympic Committee to present a Sports Injury Symposium for several South American Countries in 1977. Sam was married to Jere Parham in 1967 and they have one son Anthony and one daughter Lisa.
Mr. McKibbin has held several positions at the University of Central Oklahoma since 1980. His first position was the Head Athletic Trainer for 23 sports. In 1991, he was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director in charge of facilities while retaining the title as Head Athletic Trainer. Then in 2003, he became the University’s first Associate Athletic Director for Athletics taking on the duties of day to day operations for the University of Central Oklahoma Athletic Department. Throughout that time he assisted the move from NAIA to NCAA sport affiliation, Title IX Compliance review, adding the sport of Women’s Volleyball, Women’s Soccer and Women’s Golf. In addition, he assisted in the planning and renovation of Wantland Stadium and was the athletic authority on the final punch list for the completion of the first phase. He was fortunate enough to experience 1 Football National Championship (1982), 13 Wrestling National Championships (81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 92, 92, 94, 95, 02 & 03) as well as many other playoff and regular season milestones.
During his tenure to this point he had taught as an adjunct instructor and in 2004 after 17 years of pursuing the inception of an athletic training curriculum, he was offered the position, Graduate Athletic Training Education Program Director, a position that he occupies presently. Mr. McKibbin serves on the NATA Governmental Affairs committee as well as the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision.
Scott McGonagle will be starting his 14th season as Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Miami. McGonagle and his staff are responsible for the year-round health care of every UM student-athlete. Starting his 29th year as an athletic trainer, McGonagle oversees the sports medicine program for UM’s 17 intercollegiate varsity sports. McGonagle became a part of the Miami Hurricanes staff in 1995 as Head Athletic Trainer. He oversees a staff of nine full-time assistant athletic trainers, and works in conjunction with a staff of physicians to assure the finest medical care for UM student-athletes. McGonagle started the Undergraduate Athletic Training Education program and served as the Curriculum Director until turning over the reigns to one of his long time assistants.McGonagle’s extensive experience includes thirteen seasons as Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Tulsa from 1982 to 1995, where he started the Undergraduate Athletic Training Curriculum and served as Curriculum Director twice. He has also served in all the executive positions of the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association including President. He was the Head Athletic Trainer in 1981-82 at Crowley (Texas) High School and Head Athletic Trainer in 1980-81 at Sajuarita (Arizona) High School.
McGonagle began his collegiate athletics career as an athletic training student under the direction of Dean Nesmith and Lynn Bott at the University of Kansas from 1977-1980. During that time, McGonagle worked as a summer intern for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1978, 1979 seasons. Scott was born in Syracuse, Kan., and grew up in Scott City. He attended the University of Kansas and received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1980. He later graduated from the University of Arizona in 1981 with his Master’s of Science in Athletic Training.
Rod Replogle, one of the seven founding members of the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association, has dedicated 35+ years to the profession of Athletic Training. He is at present time the only Athletic Trainer ever inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame.Rod is a native of McAlester, OK, where he graduated in 1959. He then attended Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship where he played until graduating in 1963 with a BS in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. He later received his Masters at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
In the fall of 1963, he began his athletic training, teaching and coaching career in Henryetta, OK. Throughout the years, he served in several Oklahoma schools in the same capacity.
In 1979, Rod was hired by Owasso Public Schools as their full-time athletic trainer. He covered all high school and junior high school athletic events; taught science and coached. In 1981, he started one of the first high school student athletic training aide programs. Due to his program, 6—8 student athletic training aides have gone to college on athletic training scholarships and out of these students, one is a national certified athletic trainer. Rod retired from Owasso in 1992, after 13 years of service.
During the summer of 1989, 1991, and ‘92, he participated in the Sooner Stampede as an athletic trainer. They played exhibition football games in Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Nevada.
Since retiring from Metro Christian Academy in 1997, Rod has continued his service as an athletic trainer by helping out at athletic events and attending conferences.
Rod has been married to his wife JoAnne for 47 years; they have three children; daughters Janell, Jamie, and Jennifer. Rod also has three grandchildren: Haylee, Hayden, and Drue and a fourth due in October.
Alex Brown with 40 years of athletic training experience will take his place in the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association a true testament to his dedication to the profession and the desire to help the student-athlete.Born December 19, 1955 in Dickson, TN, Alex grew up in Durham, North Carolina. While attending Carrington Jr. High. Alex got his first glimpse of athletic training as he served as student athletic training aide from 1967 – 1974 at Northern High School. After high school, Alex attended Appalachian State from 1974 -1980 in which he received a BS in HPER with a minor in Athletic Training and a Masters in Post Secondary Education with emphasis in Exercise Physiology.
Out of college Alex put his skills to work at East Central University (’80 – ’87) in Ada, OK. While at East Central, Alex held dual positions; along with being Head Athletic Trainer, Alex was also an assistant track coach, head golf coach, and during his tenure he was named coach of the year in 1986.
In 1997 Alex joined the athletic training staff at the University of Oklahoma where he is still today. Alex is the athletic trainer for Men’s Basketball as well as the Men’s and Women’s golf teams; some of his accomplishments while at OU have been named Player of the Game during the 1997 Big 12 Tournament (OU vs Missouri) and ESPN Pre-game Star Watch 2009 (OU vs Missouri).
Outside of his work at OU Alex has been able to be part of the athletic training staff at the US Olympic Training Center (’88), US Olympic Festival (’89, ’90), the Pan Am Games (’91), and USA Basketball (’93). Alex has also been a long standing member of the Board of Medical Licensure for Athletic Training.
Alex is married to Ms. Sheila Hoppis, has four daughters Evelyn and Erica, and stepdaughters Erin and Mariah. An avid golfer, Alex has shot 66 twice and has 6 hole-in-ones added to his resume. Alex has also ran in two marathons the Savannah and Boston with a PR of 2 hrs and 49 sec.
Dr. Martin Tippie
Dr. Tippie was born in 1945 in Oklahoma City, OK. He attended Oklahoma State University where he earned a B.S. degree. In 1971 he graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School. From 1972 until 1975 he severed our country in the United States Army as a Major with the prestigious 82nd Air Borne Division out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.Also in 1975 Dr. Tippie and his wife Gayle were married and had three children Allen, Andy, and Michelle. From 1972 to 1975 while in North Carolina Dr. Tippie served as a volunteer physician with the Fayetteville, North Carolina Free Medical Clinic. In 1975 he was a volunteer physician for the North Carolina High School Athletics a position he held until 1982. After returning to Oklahoma he served as a Health for Friends Volunteer Physician and a volunteer physician for the Special Olympics of Oklahoma from 1985-2002.
From 1982 to present he has served on the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision as a member of the Athletic Training Licensure Committee. Jeff McKibbin states “Dr. Tippie stellar commitment and dedication has been true inspiration to all that have had the fortune to work with him.”
From 1976 to 1982 he was in private practice in Windsor, North Carolina before becoming the team physician for The University of Oklahoma where he still holds the title of team physician emeritus.
Glenn “Smitty” Smith
Glenn Smith aka “Smitty” was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and his married to his wife Mona. Glenn and his wife have two children Josh and Rachel. He currently resides in Tulsa.
Smitty attended Northeastern A&M in Miami, Oklahoma from 1964-1966. He also attended University of Northern Arizona in 1970 before returning to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma State University from 1970-71.
He began his career as a salesman for Bike Equipment in 1971 before moving to Oral Roberts University in 1972 where he served as the ath-letic trainer until 2011. He continues to make his presence known around the ORU campus even after his retirement.
Smitty has been the host NCAA athletic trainer for five regional basket-ball tournaments back in the 70’s and 80”s and also host to eight NCAA baseball regionals. Smitty has been huge asset to athletic trainers who work the Oklahoma Coaches Association All State games in July every year while games or practices are held at ORU. He was always there and willing to help in any way they needed.
Smitty has served with the American Red Cross, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the National Equipment Managers Association and the Oklaho-ma Coaches Association.
Smitty was nominated by Erin Herrmann who works at Putnam City North High School. In her nomination of Smitty Erin said the following: “His kind nature and jovial spirit makes everyone around him feel wel-come but it is Smitty’s smile that everyone loves. In fact just the men-tion of his name puts a smile on the faces of those that he has worked with in the past and present.”
Jim was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma and graduated from The Uni-versity of Oklahoma in 1983 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in 1985.
Jim is married to Susan and they have two children Nathan and Madilynn. From 1985-1986 he worked at Grady Memorial Hospital. From 1986-1994 he was employed at Oklahoma Center for Ortho-pedic Rehabilitation. In 1995 he moved to St. Anthony North before leaving in 2000 to take his “dream” job at the University of Oklaho-ma as the director of rehabilitation, a position he still holds today.
Over the years Jim has served as athletic trainer for the Oklahoma Special Olympics, USA Basketball and US Olympic Committee. Jim is a member of the OPTA, APTA, MAATA, NATA and OATA. Jim served the OATA as an executive committee member as Secretary/ Treas-urer, President Elect, and President in 1985.
Before his time as OATA President he did extensive research on the “Industrial/Clinical Athletic Trainer Concept and Philosophy” this was a nine page document about this emerging practice setting in Oklahoma. As a result of his research it allowed us to make chang-es to our practice act that reflected this setting.
Jim is an individual that many people have relied on in the past as well as currently. He continues to be someone that is involved in the profession of athletic training both locally and nationally and is deserving of this recognition.
Dr. Greg Gardner
Greg Gardner is a Clinical Professor of Athletic Training and Associate Director of the School of Nursing at the University of Tulsa. He completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming and holds a masters degree from the University of Arizona. In 1995, he completed his doctoral work at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Gardner has extensive experience as an athletic trainer and has been a certified athletic trainer for 30 years. His career includes work at the high school, small college, and major college level. He served on the JRC-AT and remained with that group as the transition to CAATE was completed. In November of 2008 Dr. Gardner was elected as the first President of the CAATE and began serving in that capacity in August of 2009.
Dr. Gardner is currently the U.S. Vice President of the World Federation of Athletic Training and Therapy. Dr. Gardner has served as a consultant to numerous athletic training education programs in the U.S. as well as internationally in Jordan and Ireland. He currently serves as the external accreditation reader for ARTI (Athletic Rehabilitators and Therapists of Ireland). He was named Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer in 2010 was inducted into the MAATA Hall of Fame in 2013.
He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Christi, for 32 years. They have 3 children, Staff Sergeant Michael W. Gardner of Colorado Springs, Jimmie Gardner, of Gilmer Texas, and Tommy Gardner who is a senior at Oklahoma State University. He is VERY proud of his two beautiful daughter-in-laws, Amanda and Melissa, and his four grandchildren, Jack, Jake, Emma, and Maddie.
Sydney Ringer is the Head Athletic Trainer for Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City as well as a preceptor for the Athletic Training Education Program at The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Graduating from Oklahoma State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in 1989 and from The University of Tulsa with her Master’s Degree in 1991.
Sydney first worked as an athletic trainer at Neosho Community College in Kansas. She then returned to TU as an Assistant Athletic Trainer in 1992. Serving in that capacity for three years, Sydney was promoted to the position of Coordinator of Sports Medicine Services at The University of Tulsa in 1995. For the next ten years she served a mentor and a leader for many students and young professionals while also coordinating the sports medicine services for a division I university. Departing TU in 2005, she became the Head Athletic Trainer at Oklahoma Christian University where she continues to mentor students and professionals while also servicing the needs of her athletes and patients to this day.
As an athletic trainer in the State of Oklahoma, Sydney has served the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association for more than 20 years. She is a past member of the OATA Executive Committee and has served that committee in the Office of Secretary, Vice President, and President from 1996 to 2002. To date, she has continued to serve the OATA as its Scholarship Committee Chair for the last 10 years. And, on a national level, she served on the NATA Women in Athletic Training Committee from 1999‐2003.
Scott Anderson is a clinical instructor and the Head Athletic Trainer for The University of Oklahoma in Norman. He received his Bachelors of Science Degree from The University of Oklahoma in 1979 and spent the next 7 years as a member of the OU Athletic Training Staff; primarily specializing with athletes competing in football and men’s basketball. Departing OU in 1987, he went on to serve as the Head Athletic Trainer for Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana for the next nine years. While at Tulane University, he helped develop a comprehensive sports medicine program in conjunction with the Tulane Medical School, and was likewise the coordinator of Tulane’s substance abuse program and the school’s athletic training clinic. Returning to his alma mater in 1996, Scott continues to serve as the Head Athletic Trainer at The University of Oklahoma to this day.
Specific to his work at The University of Oklahoma, Scott is a past recipient of the NATA’s College and University Committee Athletic Trainer of the Year Award in 2006, he received the honor of Outstanding Athletic Trainer from the All American Football Foundation in 2005, and his athletic training staff was awarded the Big 12 Athletic Training Staff of the Year for the 2000‐2001 competitive season.
As an Athletic Trainer in the State of Oklahoma, Scott was one of the few that worked diligently to establish the Oklahoma Athletic Training Practice Act in 1981. This document continues to provide for the governance and the growth of not only the profession of athletic training in the State of Oklahoma, but it also serves the expanding scope of practice of today’s athletic training clinician.
Scott has worked for decades to improve health and safety in sport on a national level as well. He is the current president of the College Athletic Trainers’ Society, he was the Co‐Chair of the NATA’s Task Force for Sickle Cell Trait in Athletes, and a contributing member of multiple other NATA Task Forces (i.e. Best Practices in Sports Medicine Management, Preventing Sudden Death in Sport, Safety in Football Off‐Season) pertaining to health and safety in sport.
Anita Clark, ATC is currently self-employed contractual athletic trainer. She received her Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from Auburn University in 1975 and 1977 respectively. From 1978-1982 Anita served as a head athletic trainer, teacher and coach for Notasulga High School in Notasulga, AL. Moving to Oklahoma in 1982, she became an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the University of Central Oklahoma in Norman; graduating with an additional Master’s Degree in 1988, and likewise honoring the University with 32 years of distinguished service.
Anita is, and has been, a “professional” athletic trainer. Through her service to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Ethics Committee, she literally wrote the book on what a professional is and should be. She has a passion for each athlete’s personal well-being and she is a pioneer in the profession of athletic training.
Outside of the “athletic” setting, Anita has been a leader and a driving force in the community. As a Project Developer and Coordinator for numerous community serve organizations, a volunteer classroom teacher, a first responder to the Moore, OK tornado in 2013, a volunteer athletic trainer for the Oklahoma Olympic State Games, as well as a volunteer for the annual Norman Christmas Day Community Dinner, Anita’s service to the Greater Oklahoma City Area continues to leave a lasting impact. Additionally, she was awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Life Saving Award in 1984.
On a national level, Anita is a past recipient of the NATA Service Award in 1997 and the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 1999.
Larry Egge, ATC is currently the Sports Medicine Coordinator for Easter Oklahoma Orthopedic Center (EOOC), a physician-owned, private orthopedic and sports medicine practice in Tulsa, OK. Growing up in Rapid City, South Dakota, Larry forged an interest in the profession at the University of Arizona in Tucson while working in the athletic training facility. After college, Larry went on to become the Head Athletic Trainer for Wichita State University for the next eight years. In a quick turn of events, Larry took a position as an athletic trainer for the St. Louis Cardinal’s minor league baseball team for six weeks before the Head Athletic Trainer with the Tulsa Roughnecks Professional Soccer Team came open in 1982. Taking the job and relocating to Tulsa, Larry served as their athletic trainer for three years. In 1985, Larry joined the staff at EOOC as a high school and college athletic trainer. In 1988, he embarked on a three-year hiatus from EOOC to work in public relations for a soccer promotional company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. After traveling around the world in promotion of U.S. Soccer, Larry then returned to EOOC in 1991.
As an athletic trainer and the Sports Medicine Coordinator for Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center for more than 20 years, in addition to his experience and talent in public relations and marketing, Larry has helped to not only grow, but likewise maintain, EOOC at the forefront of excellence in orthopedics and sports medicine in Tulsa.
Herb Rhea, ATC is currently a self-employed contractual athletic trainer. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Oklahoma State University in 1978, he served as Head Athletic Trainer, Physical Education Instructor and Coach for Enid Public Schools for ten years. Leaving Enid for a graduate assistant athletic trainer position with football and baseball at the University of Virginia, he completed his Master’s of Education Degree in 1989 before returning to Enid High School for the next two years. Moving back to Virginia in August of 1991, he served as the Director of Sports Medicine for Ferrum College until 1994. In August of 1994, Herb Rhea became the Director of Sports Medicine for Jenks Public Schools where he served in that capacity for more than 20 years prior to retiring in December of 2015.
As a leading advocate for high school students and their advancement onwards into a healthcare-related profession, Herb has served as an athletic trainer, mentor, and kind friend to literally thousands of student athletes over his career. As a colleague, he has served to continually advance the status and the standing of the high school athletic trainer as a position of the utmost integrity and excellence. And, as a tenured healthcare professional, Herb has been a mentor and a servant to dozens of young professional athletic trainers as they come into the profession of athletic training.
Greg Harrel, ATC has been a longtime advocate of athletic training in the state of Oklahoma for over 31 years. He has quietly held a long relationship in professional baseball in Oklahoma most of those years to include the Tulsa Drillers, Oklahoma City 89ers, Oklahoma City Redhawks, and the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Greg accomplished his dream of working in Major League Baseball with the Texas Rangers and then went on to work with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Greg has been recognized several times for his hard work in professional baseball. Greg has been the Athletic Trainer for the Triple A All Star Game twice, been named American Association Athletic Trainer of Year twice. He has been a member of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers’ Society for over twenty years. During his off season, he typically travels back to Oklahoma where he spends many hours working high school events and mentoring students. “[Greg’s] biggest assets to his longevity are his knowledge of athletic training and his relationships with those who have worked with him.” John Joslin, ATC.
Harrel was recognized in 1995 as the first OATA Athletic Trainer of the Year when he took time to not only assist with triage and treatment at ground zero of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building following the bombing, but he also donated supplies for the rescue workers.
Ron Walker, EdD., ATC, CSCS has been a leader, educator and advocate for athletic trainers all across the nation and specifically, within the state of Oklahoma. Ron has held many leadership positions within the OATA and has been vital in directing the organization to where it is today. Ron has had an influence in the professional development of many athletic trainers and always finds ways to enforce the importance of the role of athletic trainers in the healthcare system. He has been instrumental in advocating for laws that impact both patient safety and athletic trainers. Walker has also advanced the profession and organization by developing relationships with other stakeholders which has had a direct impact on how athletic trainers are viewed amongst other healthcare professionals in the state of Oklahoma.
Ron Walker has been awarded the University of Tulsa Excellence in Teaching Award, the Oxley College of Health Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, The University of Tulsa Faculty Member of the Year, NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award, University of Tulsa Medicine Wheel Nominee, Richard Harper Mosier Leadership in Higher Education Scholarship amongst others. Walker also serves on numerous community and athletic training committees at the local, state, district, national and even international level.
Walker received his Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees from the University of Tulsa where he currently serves as the Associate Dean of the Oxley College of Health Sciences and as a Clinical Associate Professor of Athletic Training. He received his Doctorate from Oklahoma State University in 2014. Throughout his career, Walker has successfully obtained Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) at two separate universities. Accreditation was successfully obtained at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2001 for an entry-level undergraduate athletic training program where he served as program director until 2005. More recently he has obtained CAATE Accreditation for the Master’s in Athletic Training at the University of Tulsa.
In a recommendation letter to the OATA, Greg Garder, EdD., ATC states “I cannot envision anyone more deserving than Ron for this honor. One run through Ron’s vita provides more than ample evidence of his Hall of Fame career to this point.”
Brian Coley, graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree and Masters in Sports Medicine from the United States Sports Academy in 1991, He has been a Certified Athletic Trainer for over 26 years. During this time, Brian has been a passionate and tireless advocate for the profession of athletic training. He has demonstrated this through his leadership by always taking a positive mindset when accepting challenges with the willingness to adapt and overcome but his actions being guided with the best interest of all in mind. In 2006 and as President of OATA, Brian had several visions, two of which were increasing OATA member involvement and the other was bringing the District V Annual Symposium to Oklahoma. He pursued his first vision of increased membership involvement by taking time out of his busy schedule to make several road trips across Oklahoma to facilitate membership involvement. His efforts produced an increased interest in OATA over the next several years from many that had not participated previously. His other vision to bring District V meeting to Oklahoma met with strong resistance from other District V state leaders but no one can deny, it did start a dialogue for future leaders that eventually brought the meeting to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2013. Brian was instrumental in developing and coordinating Oklahoma Legislative “Hit the Hill” day at our state’s capitol. Developing grass roots for future athletic training related legislation. In his 26 years, he has touched many lives for the better. Through Brian’s career, he has spent numerous hours devoted to educating, mentoring, and caring for high school and college student/athletes. Through his efforts, he has been recognized as Adjunct Professor of the Year at Rogers State University, All-State Athletic Trainer by the Oklahoma Coaches Association and Northeast Oklahoma Huddle Coach of the Year by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Thomas Jeffrey Emel, M.D., FAAFP
Thomas Jeffrey Emel, MD, graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 1979. He completed a one year Family Practice Internship in 1980 and a 3 year Family Practice Residency in the OU College of Medicine Department of Family Practice in 1982. As a member of the American Board of Family Practice, Dr. Emel served as the Program Director of Primary Care—Sports Medicine Fellowship for the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa from 1989-2005. He currently is a Clinical Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa while serving as a team physician for the University of Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, Northeastern State University, Tulsa Drillers, Booker T. Washington High School and Union High School. Dr. Emel has served on serval well known and influential committees such as Oklahoma Committee on Sports Medicine, Governors Committee for Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, University of Tulsa College of Nursing Lesion Committee, and the University of Tulsa President’s Council. It has been well known that Dr. Emel has done a lot for the advancement of athletic training in the state of Oklahoma. His daily work with many Athletic Trainers in the state has been widely talked about and recognized by not only those ATs he has influenced but by the athletes he has helped through the years. He believes in and delivers the highest quality of care for his patients and athletes. He has influenced numerous of health care providers over his 35 plus years of practice. His vison to create a sports medicine fellowship over 30 years ago has had an indelible impression on numerous health care providers, many of which have been athletic trainers. Throughout his many years of service he has shared his knowledge at numerous national , regional and state presentations.
Ed Sunderland, ATC
Ed Sunderland, graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University in 1978 then completing his Master of Science in 1979 from University of Arizona. His experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer spans over 40 years, holding positions in four states. Arriving in Oklahoma, his influence on the profession of athletic training in Oklahoma was immediate. Accepting a position as a instructor for the University of Central Oklahoma provided the opportunity for Ed’s previous experience to greatly influence the development of the first Graduate Athletic Training Program in the state. Becoming the Clinical Coordinator for this program allowed him to utilize one of his strongest character traits, “to always answer the call’! Ed’s contributions to many have gone unnoticed by most but his constant involvement has been consistent. Besides his mentoring to students at all times, he is never afraid to step in and help often when no one else will. Some of his athletic training volunteer involvement include; Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, Coordinator for On-Course Medical for Memorial Marathon; Cowtown Marathon, Endeavor Games, Ironman Triathlon, Big 12 Wrestling, Special Olympics as well as volunteering to help area high schools and universities with physicals, testing, CPR training and last minute game coverage. He is also served as Big 12 Football Medical Observer as well as selected to serve as one of two athletic trainers for NBA Referees. He has also contributed many times over the years with the organization and development of our OATA Annual Meeting especially those years when serving as the OATA Committee Meeting Chair. Ed has been honored previously with NATA 25 Year Award, College Athletic Trainers Society Outstanding Service Award, Teaching Excellence Award, UCO Vanderford Faculty Award Winner and 2014 was honored as OATA Athletic Trainer of the Year Award.
Dr. Donald Cooper
A Kansas native, Dr. Cooper earned his BA degree in 1949 from Pittsburg State University where he served as senior class president. He was also Head Athletic Trainer at PSU for three years. He received his medical degree in 1953 from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, where he was inducted into the medical society, the Alpha Omega Alpha. He then served an internship at St. Mary’s and Children’s Mercy hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
He then served two years as a Captain in the Air Force before entering private practice in Manhattan, Kansas. He left the private sector of medicine after two years to become team physician at Kansas State University, a position he held from late 1957 to 1960 when he came to OSU.
In June 1974, Dr. Cooper was honored as the first recipient of the National Athletic Trainers’ Associations President’s Challenged Sports Medicine Award, given to the top team physician in the country active in sports medicine. He held numerous offices in the American College Health Association including the Presidency in 1967-1968.
Dr. Cooper was one of four U.S. Olympic team physicians for the XIX Olympiad which was held in Mexico City in 1968.
Dr. Cooper was an active member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for twelve years. Eight of those years were under President Ronald Reagan and four years under President George Bush
Dr. Cooper appeared on five national television appearances included “Good Morning America,” in November 1976 when he discussed the safety of helmets in football. He also appeared on the “Today Show” in April 1985 when he discussed Fitness of Youth in America with Bryant Gumble and Connie Chung.
In November of 1999, Dr. Cooper and inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame with Reba McIntyre and four other prominent Oklahomans.
In the August 1999 Issue of the Oklahoma State Medical Association Journal, he was featured as “Leader in Medicine” in the state of Oklahoma.
Dr. Anthony L. Cruse, D.O.
Dr. Cruse attended University of Central Oklahoma where he received a B.A. degree, following UCO he attended Kirksville Medical School and became an orthopedic surgeon. After completing medical school Dr. Cruse moved back to Oklahoma City and began what was unique at that time in sports medicine where, as a physician, was attending practices and traveling with the UCO football team on away games many times after attending high schools games the night before. He was motivated to be as accessible as possible for the care of any and all UCO and high school athletes while starting his own medical practice.
While providing this same philosophy to several high schools and high school ATs around the state, he saw a need to offer a new concept of Saturday morning clinics after high school football games to provide care to those who might need to be seen. He also started a close relationship with the Oklahoma Coaches Association as well as the Oklahoma All-State Games whether they were in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.
His practice in orthopedics and sports medicine allowed him to expand where he eventually added a physical therapy and rehabilitation department. There he employed both physical therapists as well as athletic trainers. As his practice continued to grow he saw a need to expand the facility to include new offices, new physical therapy department, as well as a hospital and operating suites to bring a state of the art facility for his patients.
Over the years, he has been involved with improving the care of athletes while developing relationships with so many coaches and athletic trainers. He has supported our profession by providing his time and expertise at countless games and practices but also in many cases has help several programs financially without any expectation of anything in return.