By Laine Zizka
Stephanie Jevas, director of the athletic training program in the Department of Kinesiology, recently became the fifth TCU athletic trainer to be awarded the Frank Medina Award by the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association. This prestigious award is given annually to an athletic trainer who has made significant contributions to the profession throughout their career.
“[Frank Medina] was the long-time athletic trainer at the University of Texas at Austin and so many of the awards are named after athletic trainers that have made significant contributions in our profession,” said Jevas. “It definitely came unexpected.”
Previous winners include James Dodson in 1983, Ross Bailey in 1998, Brian Conway in 2004 and Valerie Tinklepaugh-Hairston in 2018.
“It was just a nice validation of the work that you put in,” Jevas said. “It can be definitely a thankless profession, so to actually be given an award is always a nice feeling to be recognized for the efforts that you put in to help our profession evolve and to help our students evolve and grow into phenomenal health care providers.”
Former winners also bask in the recognition and recognize its honor.
“It is humbling to be recognized by your peers for impact on the athletic training profession that you love,” said Brian Conway, the director of business development and outreach for Texas Health Sports Medicine. “Athletic training married my love of sports and my interest in medicine.”
But the award is quite the honor for TCU as well.
“I think that, when you look to the past award winners, this honor is given to a who’s who in the field,” Ross Bailey, a former TCU head athletic trainer and current senior associate athletic director, said. “To have five awardees that are connected with TCU either as graduates or employees speaks volumes to the commitment to athletic training education at the University and to the leadership within the profession of this group.”
Jevas admits she’s even had applicants for the program congratulate her on the award and it reflects the caliber of TCU’s athletic training program.
“I was fortunate to learn at TCU under Ross Bailey. He modeled hard work, preparation, personal care for each athlete and giving back to your profession,” said Conway. “Those attributes he modeled help form my development as an athletic trainer, which is a great part of the professional I have become.”
Bailey was drawn to TCU because it was the only Division I school in Texas at the time to offer an academic tract in athletic training – all it took was one trip to campus in 1971 and he was hooked.
“I’ve been on campus ever since in a variety of roles within the athletics department,” Bailey said. “But the discipline, planning and attention to detail that I learned as an athletic trainer are the skill set I still call on today in my position.”
Many of these winners feel a loyalty to TCU. Jevas has been a fixture on this campus for seven years. In those years, she has seen the campus and program grow as it found its place in the Big 12.
“I feel like I’ve found my home” said Jevas. “I don’t have any intention of going anywhere. Right now, for me, it’s just what can we do in terms of next steps for our program.”
But TCU’s athletic training program is only one part of a much larger community that is quickly becoming more important in academics and sports.
“All my mentors, teachers and athletic trainers I have been fortunate to work with have made a difference in some small way within the profession of athletic training,” said Conway. “I strongly believe that all of us are a small part of a much bigger picture.”
With five TCU winners in the program’s history, students and faculty alike are treated to a quality community and education.
“I’m really proud and honored to get to work with two other current recipients of the award on our campus almost every day,” said Bailey. “The education and service they provide to our students, student athletes and the community is wonderful.”
Jevas notes her biggest reward is seeing her students succeed after college, and that’s what keeps her going.
“When you read the description of what Frank Medina did and the influence he had on the education of his students, I feel that’s a line to what I do,” Jevas said. “I’m very passionate about athletic training as a profession, but certainly passionate the success of our students.”