“For me, the most rewarding part of athletic training has always been the athlete who has an injury, struggles to heal and rehabilitate and comes back to play at the same level prior to the injury.” John Baxter
For Emporia State athletic trainer John Baxter, athletic training was something that came naturally to him. He is a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame.
“John has literally touched the lives of thousands of young people throughout his more than four decades at ESU. He is an educator, mentor, friend, and father figure. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with John,” said Kent Weiser, athletic director. “I think the world of John, and he’s without a doubt one of the finest men I’ve ever known.”
After suffering a stroke last spring, Baxter announced his retirement after 46 years at ESU. Baxter said he has enjoyed his time in athletic training.
“For me, the most rewarding part of athletic training has always been the athlete who has an injury, struggles to heal and rehabilitate and comes back to play at the same level prior to the injury,” Baxter said.
Baxter found his way to Emporia when he finished his stint in the U.S. Army and was teaching and coaching public school in Albuquerque, N.M., when he was offered the job as Athletic Trainer at ESU by Joe Pease, who was athletic director at that time.
When Baxter arrived at ESU in 1966, only men’s athletics existed.
“Now with women’s athletics as well as men’s, the levels of competition have increased tremendously,” Baxter said. “The athletes are more skilled and stronger at the college level. Athletic training jobs were few and far between at that time, so I took the job.”
Baxter became interested in athletic training while attending high school at Holy Cross Abby in Canon City, Colo.
“My father, Jerome, taught me how to tape ankles, and I ended up taping everybody’s ankles before basketball practice,” he said.
When he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Baxter was offered a student training position by the head athletic trainer at the school. After graduating from UNM, Baxter went on to the Army and was appointed to an assistant athletic trainer at West Point Academy.
On top of being a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and the Kansas Athletic Trainers’ Society Hall of Fame, Baxter has also given back to ESU. According to ESU’s website, Baxter is a member of the KSTC Club and been on the Honor Roll of Donors.
“John is plain out funny; he’s one of the smartest men I know, and he’s one of the most caring individuals I’ve ever met, he is just one of a kind” said Blaise Kriley, mens’ athletic trainer. “Working with John is a lifetime experience. He has been in athletic training since the beginning, so working with him is like working with a living history book and he has taught me a lot.”