BYU Athletic Trainers Break into UATA Hall of Fame

BYU Head Trainer George Curtis was inducted into the UATA Hall of Fame Saturday.

PROVO -- Icing sprains, treating broken bones and using endless rolls of athletic tape have become an art form to George Curtis, Earlene Durrant, Marvin Roberson and Rod Kimball, four BYU trainers inducted into the Utah Athletic Trainers Association (UATA) new Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon.

Also among the first inductees were Utah State trainer Dale Mildenberger (1975-present), Utah's Bill Bean (1978-present) and Dr. Ken Knight. Dr. Knight is a reknown researcher from Indiana State, who has since become a professor at BYU.

"I'm amazed that we have an athletic organization like this," Knight said. "It's wonderful to see how far we've come. I absolutely love the profession and I appreciate this greatly."

Three generations of BYU trainers were recognized. Currently 94 years old, Rod Kimball was BYU's first athletic trainer (1937-1975). Known as the "grandfather of BYU Athletics," Kimball experienced athletics during World War II and set the foundation for today's athletic training. Kimball is also one of the original members of National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA).

Prior to joining BYU in 1966, Roberson worked with the NFL. He became BYU head athletic trainer in 1975 after Kimball's retirement. He is an international guest lecturer and one of the first American athletic trainers to travel to Russia. Roberson worked for 25 years with international and Olympic athletes and competition. He was a trainer for the Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico and in Munich, Germany.

Curtis is the current BYU Head Athletic Trainer, joining the program in 1985. He has been an avid supporter of professionalism in athletic training, pursuing the licensure of Utah trainers. Curtis has acted as UATA President (1999-2002), and has been a member of the NATA College and University Committee for six years. Curtis is also the recipient of the 1996 National Athletic Training Service Award, the 1999 Outstanding Football Athletic Trainer Award and the 2001 T&C Above the Call Award for saving a fellow faculty member's life.

"It's an honor to be included with such great trainers," Curtis said. "Everyone who is being inducted has meant a lot to me."

Durrant is an athletic training pioneer of equal stature with over 40 years of influence. Recently retired, she became the first female athletic trainer at BYU in 1973. She received the first NATA certification in Utah and was the first female UATA president. Durrant has already been inducted into the RMATA Hall of Fame (1999), the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame (2000) and the NATA Hall of Fame (2000). In 2002, she also received the state, regional and national Educator of the Year Award.

The President's Choice Award was given in memory of the late Olavi Julkunen, for demonstrating exemplary service and dedication in the field of athletic training.

"We have a dedicated professional who didn't stay with us long enough to make it into the Hall of Fame," said Lisa Walker, UATA State Association President. "We feel he still deserves recognition. Ollie was loved and respected by all who met him. He taught, guided and mentored hundreds of students."

Julkunen was a trainer at BYU for 25 years. His abilities in treating sports injuries put him in high demand internationally and at the Olympics. He was the US Jr. team head athletic trainer in 1986. As head athletic trainer for the U.S. track and field team, he traveled to the Olympics in Seoul Korea, Barcelona, Spain and Atlanta, Georgia.

BYU received additional honors for student Mary Ence, recipient of the 2003 Outstanding Athletic Training Student award.

Ence was joined by Highland High School's Richard Spencer, the 2003 High School Athletic Trainer of the Year, Utah's Deb Willardson, the 2003 Collegiate Athletic Trainer of the Year and SUU's Ben Davidson, the 2003 Athletic Training Educator of the Year.

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