Aug 3, 2017Called to the Hall
At the University of Montana, we have historically seen lax participation from our Athletic Training Program alumni. During a department faculty meeting a few years ago, we began discussing how to change this. The idea we settled on was a Hall of Fame.
Since that initial staff meeting, we’ve held Hall of Fame celebrations over the past two homecoming weekends. We’ve inducted a total of seven deserving individuals, and the initiative has proven very effective in energizing our alumni.
In the short time we have been organizing our Hall of Fame event, it’s had a profound impact on the Athletic Training Program. For one, it has helped increase alumni donations.
Montana’s Athletic Training Program has its roots in the early 1900s. With so many distinguished alumni to consider, choosing each Hall of Fame class has been tough. In addition, our options have been even more numerous because we opened up nominations to individuals who have demonstrated commitment to our department, even if they did not attend Montana. For example, one inductee was not an alumnus but had worked with our program for more than 30 years, mentoring staff and students and significantly contributing to our profession. Nominations are solicited through our program newsletter each spring and must include the candidate’s contact information, curriculum vitae, and a paragraph or two describing their accomplishments. The individual must also meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Be an alum of the Montana Athletic Training Program.
• Have practiced as an athletic trainer at Montana for a minimum of 15 years.
• Have served as a clinical preceptor or approved clinical instructor at Montana for a minimum of 15 years.
• Have provided service to the Montana Athletic Training Program or Rhinehart Athletic Treatment Center deemed noteworthy by Montana students, alumni, faculty, or staff.
After we receive the nominations, our athletic training faculty and staff review and rank them. Once the winners are chosen, the inductees and their nominees are notified early in the summer. The athletic training faculty coordinates and financially assists with our soon-to-be Hall of Famers’ flights, room reservations, and car rentals. We have a designated budget for the event through a program fee.
Invitations to attend the Hall of Fame celebration are sent to all of our athletic training alumni through our campus Office of Alumni Relations in August. We reserve a room and arrange catering once we have received RSVP information from our guests.
The Hall of Fame induction brunch takes place on the Friday before the homecoming football game. The event usually draws a crowd of about 100 alumni, students, faculty, staff, athletic trainers, and university administrators. Each inductee is given 20 to 30 minutes to describe their experiences in sports medicine, the challenges they’ve faced, and the rewards of working in the profession.
Following the celebration, athletic training students, faculty, and staff give our new Hall of Famers a campus tour, and then they are introduced at our college-wide reception that afternoon. To give alumni more opportunities to visit with the inductees, we also plan an informal dinner or breakfast. The honorees wrap up their weekend by attending the homecoming football game on Saturday.
In the short time we have been organizing our Hall of Fame event, it’s had a profound impact on the Athletic Training Program. For one, it has helped increase alumni donations. Because of this, we were able to establish the Naseby and Evelyn Rhinehart Athletic Training Scholarship last year to support currently enrolled students.
Furthermore, the Hall of Fame event has allowed us to learn so much about the history of our profession, our program, and our alumni. We have laughed together, cried together, and learned from each other. Alumni leave the celebration energized, inspired, refreshed, and looking forward to next year’s return to campus. By creating this event, we have found a way to re-engage our athletic training alumni, honor the past, and celebrate the future.