Jan 29, 2015
Being Uncommon

With an exciting schedule–including highlights such as unveiling the new NATA logo–leading up to it, Wednesday’s keynote presentation concluded the day fittingly. Keynote speaker Merril Hoge talked about the importance of athletic trainers, and other motivating forces, in his career as an NFL player and later his fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I am the product of a lot of people,” he told the audience, citing six individuals–half of which were athletic trainers–who guided him to be uncommon and give his maximum effort to get ahead. “If I was going to play in the NFL, I needed to be excellent.”

Hoge’s dedication to training hard and channeling his energy into playing professionally drove him to success on the field. Hoge played seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one with the Chicago Bears.

In 2003, after telling his doctor about recurring pain in his back, Hoge found out that he had a tumor and no guarantee that treatment would work. Drawing upon advice given years earlier, Hoge realized that he needed to find a way to beat the odds again.

“Being sick and tired was not an option–dying was not an option,” he told the audience. “I turned six months of treatment into five, and the tumor was gone in three months.”

To conclude his speech, Hoge thanked the athletic trainers for their work in keeping him healthy as a professional athlete. Looking ahead, he emphasized athletic trainers’ important role in handling head trauma–an injury he has experienced. “I have great respect for your profession,” he said, noting athletic trainers’ dedication to protecting young athletes and helping them succeed.

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