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History of Iowa State Athletic Training


Iowa State University is proud of its long tradition of providing excellent athletic training services and academic coursework to its students.  As was true in most university and college athletic programs in the early 1900’s, athletic training responsibilities were handled at Iowa State by coaches or other interested individuals who had no academic credentials related directly to athletic training.  Recognizing the importance of athletic training to the well being of athletes, the Department of Physical Education for Men at Iowa State began to offer an athletic training course in the early 1900’s. According to faculty and staff records from that time, the course was taught at various times by Professor Beryl S. Taylor and Associate Professor Cap Timm.  The 1959-61 Bulletin listed Warren G. Ariail as the course instructor.  In August of 1961, C.R. Bickerstaff was appointed as the Head Athletic Trainer and the leadership of the program was placed in his hands.  Phil Callicut ('65) assumed the role of head athetlic trainer from 1969-1970 when C.R. Bickerstaff became an assistant athletic director.  C.F. Randall assumed the leadership of the program in 1970.  Other individuals who assisted Frank Randall during the 70’s and 80’s include:  Jim Nespor, Max Laird, Peg Houghlum, Bill Flentje, Jerry Koloskie, Steve Stricker, and Alice McNeil-McLaine.


As the number of sports offered and participant numbers grew, the need for additional athletic trainers and facilities had to be addressed.  In the mid-to-late 60’s, the athletic training room in Beyer Hall serviced most of the sport teams.  In additional to that facility, there were two athletic training rooms in the football stadium, a small facility in the Armory for basketball, and a small athletic training room in State Gym for track.  The Beyer Hall facility was modernized in the 1974-1975 school year and is still used as an athletic training room for women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming and diving.  During the 1970’s, the increased opportunities for females to participate in intercollegiate sports resulted in the addition of a fourth athletic training room in the Physical Education Building.  That facility was administered by the Department of Physical Education for Women (PEW) and Max Laird, the first women’s athletic trainer was appointed as an instructor in the 1975-1976 school year for that department.  Other individuals who directed the athletic training program for women in the 70’s and 80’s include:  Bill Flentje, Peg Houghlum, and Alice McNeil-McLaine.


A number of other changes occurred in the late 1970’s as athletics continued to grow in popularity.  Hilton Coliseum, with a capacity of 14,140 was built and the men’s basketball team moved to that facility.  Women’s basketball continued to be played in the PEB (Physical Education Building) for a number of years but eventually the women’s games were moved to Hilton.  A new football stadium with a capacity of 50,000 was opened in 1975 and a new athletic training facility was opened during the 1974-1975 academic year in the Ralph Olsen Building, located adjacent to the football stadium.  At that time, it was considered by many to be the finest athletic training facility in the Big 8 Conference.


Though athletic training students were being taught and were receiving practical experience under the supervision of the faculty athletic trainers, the academic program consisted of one-3-credit basic athletic training course until the late 1970’s.  In the mid 70’s, the Department of Physical Education for Men and the Department of Physical Education for Women merged to become the Department of Physical Education.  With that merger came a more formalized academic program for athletic training.  A number of new athletic training courses were first listed in the 1977-1979 Bulletin. In that Bulletin, “Athletic Training” was also listed as an area of specialization within the Physical Education Teaching Certification Curriculum.  That is, the program led to certification to teach, but students were allowed to specialize in areas such as dance, elementary physical education, or athletic training.  In the 1983-1985 Bulletin, athletic training was elevated to an option that could be taken outside of the teaching certification program.


Minor title and course changes were made in the academic program during the 1980’s, but more significant changes were made in the mid-to-late 1990’s.  Courses were reorganized and new courses and practicum experience requirements were added to strengthen the program. 


Though both the men and women’s athletic trainers on staff were jointly appointed by the Health and Human Performance Department and the Athletic Department and were involved in the academic program, the actual athletic training programs continued to be operated somewhat independently until the athletic training staffs merged in 1994.  In the mornings, the female athletes utilized the athletic training room in the Physical Education Building (re-named Forker Building in 1997) and the male athletes utilized the athletic training room in the Olsen Building.  


In 1990, a new recreation athletic building called the Lied Center was opened.  This facility included additional athletic training areas and a physical therapy/sports medicine center.  The Athletic Department and the Student Health Center jointly administered the physical therapy center located in this facility until 2012.  The first physical therapist/certified athletic trainer to be appointed to this position was Jim Nespor.  In 2012, the athletic training room in the Lied Center was re-located to the first floor physical therapy center.  The Lied Rec Center Athletic Training Room services approximately 150 student-athletes as the locker rooms and practice/competition venues are all within walking distance of the facility.


In August of 1996 a new state of the art athletic training facility was opened.  It was dedicated to Dr. Earl R. Feldman who served 30 years as the dental consultant for Iowa State athletes.  This large facility (7100 square feet) accommodates the needs of student-athletes and the entire athletic training staff of six full-time certified athletic trainers.  This facility was extremely forward thinking for the times and includes state of the art components including a SwimEx 700, a Biodex isokinetic testing machine, various other modern modalities and rehabilitation equipment.


Iowa State University is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and has 45-50 athletic training students in the academic program who, as a group, routinely hold a 3.2 cumulative grade point average.  The students' clinical experiences are with Iowa State Intercollegiate Athletic Teams, Iowa State Recreation Services Club Sports, Ames High School, Cyclone Sports Medicine/Physical Therapy Clinic, Mary Greeley Medical Center, Drake University, and McFarland Clinic.  Iowa State athletic training students volunteer for the Iowa Special Olympics, the Iowa Games, the Iowa High School State Wrestling tournament, and Drake Relays.  The athletic training students have obtained numerous professional sports internships in the NFL, NBA, WNBA and feedback from these experiences continue to prove that our athletic training students are some of the best in the country.  Iowa State students obtain employment in high schools, physical therapy clinics, college and universities upon graduation.


Iowa State has a long and proud tradition of alumni who have been active in the profession.  There are over 300 Iowa State University Athletic Training Alumni.  Both staff and students pride themselves on providing excellent athletic training services as well as affording students a top notch educational experience.  One of the first athletic training students at Iowa State University was the famous scientist George Washington Carver.  Seven members of the National Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame are either alumni or former staff members at ISU including: Richard "Dick" Cole, Warren Airial, Frank Randall, Mark Smaha, Denny Miller, Peg Houglum, and Pete Carlon. Aaron Nelson (Head Athletic Trainer with the Phoenix Suns), Steve Stricker (Head Athletic Trainer with the Charlotte Hornets), Dawn Hearn (Head Athletic Trainer of University of Texas-El Paso), Mark Coberley (Assoc. AD/Director of Athletic Training at Iowa State University), Brandon Padilla (Head Athletic Trainer Sacremento State University), and many others in the process of developing their careers as an athletic trainer.

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