Long-time Ole Miss athletic trainer Leroy Mullins will be inducted into the SATA Hall of Fame later this month.
March 10, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. — Long-time Ole Miss athletic trainer Leroy Mullins will be inducted into the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame later this month. He will be recognized at the organization’s annual clinical symposium March 14-16 at the Crown Plaza Ravinia Hotel in Atlanta, with an awards luncheon scheduled for March 15 at noon. Mullins will also be one of the keynote speakers at the awards luncheon.
Mullins, a Natchez native, remembers his start in athletic training as a football manager in 1957, his freshman year at Natchez High School. From there he worked at Southwest Mississippi Junior College, Eastern Kentucky, Mississippi State and Tennessee, before being hired by Ole Miss as an athletic trainer in 1975.
“I remember being in high school, and I went out for football,” Mullins said. “The coach wouldn’t let me play because I was too little. I told him I wanted to be a part of the team, and he told me I could be a manager, so I became a manager. We went into spring practice, and the quarterback got hurt. The doctor looked at him and looked at me and he said, ‘I want you to do this, this and this,’ and set out a treatment plan, and all of a sudden, helping the athletes get well became my focus and my first love.
“I later found out they were called athletic trainers. From that day forward, I knew that’s all I wanted to do in college and so forth. I went on to get a college degree and a master’s degree, and I pursued being an athletic trainer. I learned on the job, and I grew up in the profession and had a great career.”
He held a variety of positions in his 29 years with the Ole Miss athletic department, including head athletic trainer, director of insurance and wellness and the director of sports medicine.
The Ole Miss chapter of the National Football Foundation honored Mullins with its Contribution to Amateur Football award in 2001, and Mullins was inducted into the Mississippi Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
Mullins is remembered the most for his on-field care and treatment for Chucky Mullins, who had his career at Ole Miss come to a tragic end Oct. 28, 1989 when he broke his neck while making a tackle against Vanderbilt, which left him paralyzed from the neck down.
“You did not take anything for granted,” said Leroy of that day. “You go to the practice field every day, or go into a ball game, and then it would come to an end. You leave there and go back to your training room and you have bruises and things of that nature that you have to take care of, but that day with Chucky, I couldn’t do anything more. It was beyond my control. It was beyond my hands, and I had to turn it loose and put in the good Lord’s hands. I believe the good Lord had a plan for Chucky, and he honored that plan. And Chucky’s life is being honored today. The handicap scholarship fund that was established in Chucky’s name is still helping students go to school. Chucky’s memory will never die, and I hope that The University of Mississippi continues to keep that alive because he united the university in so many different ways.
“That was the big case of my career. That’s the case that I’m remembered the most for. I will never forget it. It changed my life. It changed my children’s lives. I can remember telling my family that night after he got hurt that we would never be the same.”
The SEATA Hall of Fame was established in 2007 to recognize the very best of the athletic training profession in SEATA, and is the highest honor that may be bestowed upon a SEATA member. Individuals inducted into the SEATA Hall of Fame exemplify the mission statement of SEATA 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, promotion and professionalism.
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