Jan 29, 2015
A Pioneer Passes

The athletic training community suffered a tragic loss earlier this month when longtime University of Texas athletic trainer Tina Bonci passed away from cancer at the age of 59. Bonci was also the school’s Associate Athletics Director and Co-Director of Sports Medicine and was still working full-time when she passed away. In this blog, we look back at her memorable career.
Bonci came to Austin in 1985 after spending time at the University of Pennsylvania, and she immediately found a way to connect to the athletes in her care. In January of that year, Kelli Kuehne, who is now the Director of Events at College Golf Camps of America, was also, like Bonci, a diabetic. And that was enough to create a bond when Kuehne was a member of the Longhorns’s women’s golf team.

“We have forged a friendship that very few people will ever understand based on the daily trials and tribulations and successes of dealing with this disease,” Kuehne wrote in her blog, Kelli’s Korner. “Tina brought a humor to things that most others wouldn’t understand firsthand. She taught me a grace and humility that I didn’t know existed.”

And that connection existed with every member of the Longhorn athletic department. Numerous Texas athletes and colleagues in the athletic training department shared their memories of Bonci in this YouTube tribute produced in 2013 by the school’s athletic department.

A groundbreaker in the field, Bonci received numerous accolades, both on and off campus. The Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association honored her as a Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer in 2009, and she was elected to its Hall of Fame 2011. The NATA also gave her a Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award in 2006. The Head Athletic Trainer for the 1984 U.S. Women’s Basketball Team at the Olympics, she was inducted into Texas’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 2010.

The school posted a tribute to her after her passing, noting that:

“There is really no count of the number of events she attended or the number of student-athletes to whom she attended. But they know who they are. Because Tina was always there, caring and cheering, event after event, malady after malady.”

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