WSATA HALL OF FAME
Shane Wibel, MPH, LAT, ATC
WSATA HALL OF FAME is highest honor a member of the WSATA can receive is induction in to the WSATA Hall of Fame. The WSATA Hall of Fame is reserved for those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service and continued commitment to the WSATA and the profession of athletic training. Individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame must exemplify the mission statement of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association by enhancing the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers, and advance the athletic training profession with such qualities as leadership, service, dedication, scholarly activities and professionalism.
HALL OF FAME HONOREES
Click below to read their bio.
Dale Blair has served as an athletic trainer and sports medicine instructor in Wenatchee since 1984. He has served as WSATA Executive Director and served on several District 10 and NATA committees as including the Chairperson for the NWATA Secondary School AT Committee, College/University Student AT Committee, Chair for the NWATA Scholarship Committee and NWATA Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Dale has also served as an Examiner for the Board of Certification. Dale has publicly promoted the profession through interviews, speaking engagements, publications and presentations for the past 32 years and has received numerous local and national awards including the NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award, NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, WSATA Excellence in Service Award and he is a member of the NWATA Hall of Fame. Dale has also been very involved in his local community including his service to Wenatchee Free Methodist Church and his role at Wenatchee High School as the advisor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Mike Coco was nominated to be included in the Hall of Fame by Russ Richardson. Mike was a past WSATA President in a time when strong leadership was necessary as we looked ahead to becoming licensed as Athletic Trainers in the state of Washington. “Mike led our association with courage, confidence, and passion” during this time. Mike has also served for 4 years on the WSATA Governmental Affairs Committee during his 10 years working within the state of Washington, along with a 4 year term as a member on the NATA Career Center Committee. The nominating athletic trainer states that “Mike Coco was the right person at the right time for the health of our association.” Mike attended the University of Northern Colorado for his Bachelor’s degree and Eastern Washington University for a Graduate Degree.
Rick Griffin has served as the Senior Director of Athletic Training/Head Athletic Trainer for the Seattle Mariners since 1983. He has also worked as the Head Athletic Trainer at the Sports Medicine Clinic and as a consultant for Physiotherapy Associates and the Benik Corporation in Seattle. Rick has received numerous awards including NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, Major League Baseball Athletic Trainer of the Year, Seattle Mariners President’s Achievement Award, MLB Martin/Monohan Award for Excellence and the Keith Peterson Life Time Achievement Award in Rodeo Sports Medicine. Rick has served on the NATA Professional Education Council, NATA International Council Member, NATA Hall of Fame Committee Member and the National/International JATA Liaison Member for the NATA. Rick has also served as an Examiner and Model for the Board of Certification. Rick has represented the profession through publications, interviews, presentations as various speaking engagements nationally as well as abroad in Japan and Australia.
Dana Gunter has worked as an athletic trainer in various settings throughout her distinguished career in Washington state. A product of the Washington State University Athletic Training Education Program, early in her professional career Dana worked at Newport and Interlake High Schools in Bellevue Washington while also working as an athletic trainer in the clinical setting. She has also used her athletic training background in her other professional settings including aquatic therapy, weight management clinics as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Dana has served the her athletic training colleagues at the local, regional and national levels as a relentless advocate for the profession. Most notably to athletic trainers in Washington state, Dana has been the face of governmental affairs and related issues that have the potential to affect the profession in any way. Dana has served WSATA members as the reliable resource for issues related to the athletic training practice act, legislative issues that have the potential to affect the profession and her proactive advocacy in working with Lobbyist Charlie Brown and legislators. Dana has represented the WSATA membership annually in Olympia by testifying in person, meeting with legislators and meeting with stakeholders from other health care professions and she was instrumental in the passing of SHB 2430 in 2014 a bill that allows athletic trainers to treat injured workers. Dana’s efforts on behalf of WSATA members will have a permanent influence on the future of athletic training in Washington state. Dana has received several awards including the NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award, NWATA Service Award, WSATA Excellence in Service Award and she was a part of the WSATA leadership that received the NATA Dan Campbell Legislative Award in 2015. Dana has served as the NWATA Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, WSATA Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, President and Vice President of the Northwest Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab and she has represented the profession across the country speaking and presenting on various topics.
Ken Kladnik has served as an athletic trainer in Washington state in a few capacities including Head Athletic Trainer at Central Washington University, the Wenatchee Valley Clinic, Head Athletic Trainer at Whitworth College, and his most recent position of Director and Athletic Trainer at Kittitas Valley Healthcare Rehabilitation. Ken has a received numerous awards for his service including NATA Hall of Fame, NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer, NATA Research and Education Volunteer of the Year and NWATA Hall of Fame. Ken has served athletic trainers as the WSATA Associate Director/Vice President, NWATA Constitution/By-Laws Chair, NWATA Newsletter Editor, NWATA Scholarship Committee, NWATA Honors/Awards Chair, NWATA History and Archives Chair and on the NATA Foundation Scholarship Committee. Ken has also served as an Examiner and Test Site Administrator for the Board of Certification. Ken has represented the profession through presentations, speaking opportunities both domestically and internationally and he has bene published in the NATA News and Journal of Athletic Training. Ken is also a member of the Central Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Marty Matney was inducted into the WSATA Hall of Fame at the 2013 NATA District 10 Meeting in Boise, Idaho. Marty has served WSATA in several capacities over his career. Prior to serving as WSATA Executive Director/President, Marty was instrumental in initiating the licensure process for athletic trainers while at the same time incorporating WSATA as a non-profit organization. Marty has served WSATA members for decades as an integral leader in our governmental affairs efforts. Marty has served on several committees at the district and national levels including the NWATA Committee on Revenue and the NATA PAC Board of Directors. Marty has been recognized for his dedication and continue service to the profession as he was the recipient of the NWATA Service Award in 1999 and the prestigious NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 2012. According to his nominating athletic trainer, “Marty’s counsel is sought by national leaders because of his innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to our profession. Through his leadership and service to the clients served at Boeing through Work-fit, he has not only enhanced patient outcomes but has increased productivity and profit for the company. He works tirelessly and is always a positive, energetic, high impact leader. Because he is a visionary his impact will be felt long into the future of our profession.”
Gary Nicholson, for over forty years, has been dedicated to the profession of Athletic Training. His career started in baseball. He initially worked in the Chicago Cubs minor league system. However he quickly made his way to major league baseball as both an Assistant and Head Athletic Trainer for the Chicago Cubs organization. He then moved on to the Seattle Mariners as the Head Athletic Trainer until he took a full time position at Pacific Lutheran University where he has resided for the past thirty years as the Head Athletic Trainer. He has worked with and inspired many generations of athletes and ATC’s. Gary is known for being a servant warrior. He never hesitates to assist anyone. Throughout his career he has contributed immensely to his local community, students, student-athletes, and collegues. He lends professionalism, integrity and inspiration to everything he is involved with. While at PLU, Gary has been involved in a myriad of district service. He chaired the Hall of Fame committee for a while and served as the local chair for the District 10 business meeting and clinical symposium. He also was involved with the national certification examine as both an examiner and test proctor for many years. Gary demonstrates his dedication to athletic training on a daily basis. Athletes appreciate and benefit from Gary’s understanding of new trends and techniques in sports medicine and trust his extensive experience increasing their quick and safe return to play.
Bob Peterson - Athletic training in District 10 would not have had an origin of greatness if people like our next inductee were not a part of its growth. He was a pioneer with the Great Lakes trainers of old and was an assistant at the University of California Berkley, He also served as the Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Washington in the glory years of Rose Bowls under Jim Owens and retired a winner. He is active the state of Washington and has helped make athletic training the profession that is has grown to be today. He has been inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame. Known by his athletes and professionals as “Pete the T”, Bob treated every athlete like they were his very own son or daughter and epitomized the love that everyone had for him.
James ‘Jim’ Richards is a leader and pioneer in athletic training in the state of Washington and across the country. After almost 20 years teaching and coaching in the Bellevue School District Jim returned to the University of Washington to complete his athletic training education/hours to become a certified athletic trainer. He was one of the first ATs in Washington to work in the high school setting; Jim created the first high school sports medicine program in the state. It is his template that the modern vocational sports medicine programs are modeled after. In addition, after retiring from his 31 year teaching career he created a position as a rehabilitation coordinator at the PRO Club in Bellevue, WA. This position was a model for the AT performing post-injury/post-surgical rehabilitation in the fitness industry. Jim and his program at the Pro Club were featured in an issue of the 1993 NATA News for his work in this emerging practice area. Jim has received numerous awards for his service including induction into the NWATA Hall of Fame, WSATA Excellence in Service Award, NAIA Athletic Trainer of the Year, Washington State Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame and the Sammamish High School PTSA Golden Acorn Award. Jim has served as the WSATA Executive Director, WSATA Secretary/Treasurer, WSATA Secondary Schools Committee as well as NWATA and NATA Secondary Schools Committees. Jim has served as a Test Site Administrator and Examiner for the Board of Certification. Jim has shared his experience and knowledge representing the profession giving presentations to various community groups and organizations across Washington state. He has also served his local community as a Church Elder, Ski Patrol First Aid Room Supervisor and Habitat for Humanity Volunteer.
Russ Richardson spent most of his athletic training career at Whitworth University in Spokane as the Director of the Athletic Training Education Program and has mentored countless students and been a source of inspiration and leadership for many more colleagues in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. While Russ has been a steward of the profession on a regional and national scale it was due to Russ’ extreme dedication, focus and drive that helped take the dream of licensure for athletic trainers in Washington state a reality. As stated by his nominating athletic trainers Mike Coco and Kasee Hildenbrand, “Russ’ intimate working knowledge of athletic training and its educational components that led him to be the “go to guy”, helping to successfully navigate political waters, persuasively articulate the importance of regulation to anyone who would listen, and be that champion for our membership and profession. Throughout the licensure process Russ wore many hats. A speaker, activist, educator, and strategist, he traveled to the west side countless times to meet with other allied-health professions, legislators, lobbyists, WSATA members and leaders. In short, Russ Richardson was instrumental in attaining licensure for Washington State and it could not have occurred without his selfless involvement and personal sacrifice.” As Co-Author of Senate Bill 5503 – A bill to license athletic trainers in the state of Washington Russ was a catalyst that ultimately led to the bill that became law on July 2, 2008. Russ is a member of the NATA Hall of Fame, NWATA Hall of Fame and has received numerous awards including the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award, NWATA Outstanding Service Award and the WSATA Excellence in Service Award. Russ has served as the Chair of the NATA Executive Committee on Education, NATA District 10 Director, NWATA Secretary/Treasurer, NWATA Annual Meeting Coordinator, NAIA Athletic Trainers’ Association President and he has served as the Medical Director for several events including the US Figure Skating Championships, Skate America, World Cup Olympic Wrestling and the Western Region Olympic Wrestling Trials. Russ has also served as a Test Materials Coordinator and Test Site Administrator for the Board of Certification. Russ has represented the profession by speaking and giving presentations across the country.
Zeke Schuldt is a man whose wealth of experiences is as far reaching as the stars. He has dedicated his time to bettering the profession of athletic training in numerous ways. Starting in his college days and continuing for the next 30 years he donated his time to state high school championship events and other significant local competitions including the World Fastpitch Championships, Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials and the Goodwill Games. He has been an author, co-author or presenter for over 20 educational forums in addition to educating over 35 years of student athletic trainers. Our inductee has also been appointed to various developmental and advisory committees for medical groups and community programs over the course of the last twenty-five years. In addition to these accomplishments, he has been recognized for his service to the University of Puget Sound. Before his retirement in 2005, he served as the Head Athletic Trainer and Sports Medicine teaching specialist for 35 years. He has received numerous service awards as well as being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the university. In 2002 he was inducted into the NWATA Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments and dedication to the profession and it gives me great pleasure to introduce Zeke Schuldt as one of our inaugural members of the Washington State Hall of Fame.
Dennis Sealey has had a number of different experiences that he has used to help shape the profession of athletic training. He began his career as an assistant athletic trainer at the University of Washington in 1972. The following year he returned to his home state and the University of Nebraska as an athletic trainer and instructor. He then returned to the University of Washington as the Head Athletic Trainer in 1978 and remained as such for the next 22 years. Since that time he has been a partner at Whitesel Physical Therapy in Kirkland. Our inductee has also served the state and district in various capacities. He has headed the planning committee for the NATA convention when held in Seattle in 1982. He has also served the NWATA for 6 years as Secretary/Treasurer and for 6 years as District President. He has also served on the NATA Research and Education Foundation Board of Directors. He has previously been acknowledged for his incredible contributions with the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 1996 and the NATA 25-year award in 1997. It gives the committee great pleasure to present Dennis Sealey as our first Inaugural Member of the Washington State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame.
Mark Smaha is a nationally known athletic trainer with over 30 years of experience. He has served in various capacities including service as Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Idaho and 21 years as the Director of Athletic Medicine at Washington State University until his retirement in 1999. He has also made significant contributions to the profession through his involvement with various committees over the course of the last 20+ years, most notably in his role as President of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. He has dedicated a large amount of time over the course of the last 6 years as an inspirational speaker. His unique life experiences, wit and charisma send motivating and spiritual messages to audiences both young and old. For his incredible contributions to the profession he has been honored on numerous occasions, receiving the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award and induction into both the Northwest and National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame and it is our privilege to now recognize Mark Smaha as a member of the Washington State Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame.
Gary Smith has served as an athletic trainer for over 40 years. He started his career as a high school athletic trainer in Hawaii and during his tenure there also served as the head athletic trainer for the East-West College All-Star games. For the next 33 years he served as the head athletic trainer at Central Washington University where he also acted as an Associate Physical Education Professor. Also during that time he participated as an athletic trainer for various international games and at the Olympic Training Center. Our inductee has also held various leadership roles throughout his tenure. These include President of the NAIA Athletic trainers association, District 10 membership committee chair. Of no small importance has been his role in educating and mentoring many years of student athletic trainers. Former students and colleagues have said of him “Gary has accomplished a tremendous amount while giving selflessly and his time and expertise. I have not met a more loyal individual” and “Gary meets and exceeds the longevity and success as a member of our profession”. In 1998 Gary was inducted into the Northwest Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame and it is my honor to recognize him as an inaugural member of the Washington State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame today.
Jim Whitesel started his career in athletic training career as a student athletic trainer at the University of Washington. He proceeded to spend 2 years as an assistant at WSU and while working on a Master’s at UW, served in his first head athletic trainer position at Seattle Pacific University. This was followed by a long tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. Even at that level, he was constantly striving to improve himself as an athletic trainer. He valued his time with athletes and feels as though hands-on care is the most important time that can be spent with an athlete. According to those who know him best, he has been blessed with a curiosity to look at new products and invent ones that are useful in our profession. He helped develop the “EDO” knee brace, MyoRx (an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory cream) and is also a major contributor with a portable ice unit called Precision Ice. After his 23 years in the NFL, he decided to pursue the private sector, opening Whitesel Pro Therapy in Kirkland. For his contributions to the profession in these and many other ways, we would like to acknowledge Jim Whitesel as a member of the Washington State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame.