National Athletic Trainers' Association inducts Gardner into Hall of Fame -

National Athletic Trainers’ Association inducts Gardner into Hall of Fame

On July 21, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) inducted Chapman Clinical Professor of Athletic Training Greg Gardner into its Hall of Fame. Gardner was actually named to this body in 2020; however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the official ceremony was postponed a year.

man wearing a tie and glassesThe NATA Hall of Fame exists to recognize the very best of the athletic training profession. Induction into the Hall of Fame honors athletic trainers who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant, lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers and advance the profession. These men and women have shaped the profession through their noteworthy accomplishments and dedication to service, leadership and professionalism.

“I am thrilled that Greg has received this honor,” said Robin Ploeger, the dean of The University of Tulsa’s Oxley College of Health Sciences. “Greg has served the athletic training profession in many capacities during his career, including with program accreditation, international opportunities and in the professional association. During his time at TU, he has mentored approximately 140 students who have graduated from our athletic training program. Many of them have also gone on to successful careers and are also serving the profession.”

Gardner earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming in 1984 and his master’s degree from the University of Arizona a year later. In 1995, he went to the University of Southern Mississippi to earn his doctor of education. Gardner’s first job was as an athletic trainer and teacher at Rockport-Fulton High School. He was there from 1985 to 1988, at which time he shifted into collegiate settings as an athletic trainer and assistant professor at Howard Payne University. Gardner’s volunteer service includes Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association Student Session chair (1996-99), CAATE president (2008-01) and World Federation of Athletic Training and Therapy U.S. vice president (2011-18). He presently serves as a member of the Athletic Rehabilitators and Therapists of Ireland accreditation panel, Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association vice president and Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association government affairs chair. 

Scholar, mentor, colleague and friend

Gardner’s induction into the NATA Hall of Fame is a seriously impressive accomplishment. Only one half of one percent of the organization’s members ever make it into that august body. This recognition follows Gardner’s not long after the International Service Award from NATA’s International Committee.

“It’s quite amazing that I am being honored for doing something I’m passionate about,” said Gardner, who received TU’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2019. “I am so fortunate to work at a university that values professional service and to have a job that allows me to do the amount of work required to join the Hall of Fame.”


With typical humility, Gardner also shines a light on his colleagues and their contributions to his success: “I owe a large part of this honor to people who were both willing and capable of filling in the gaps when I found myself, for example, in Jordan during final exam week or attending back-to-back conference for 14 straight days. I am immensely fortunate to have their support and friendship.”

And those colleagues, in turn, speak highly of Gardner. “I have had the pleasure of learning from, working with, and serving with Greg for 25 years,” commented Ron Walker (BS ‘95, MA ‘96), OCHS’s associate dean and clinical professor of athletic training. “Greg has been instrumental in the success of countless students, myself included, and always provides the example of what it means to be a professional, a servant leader, a colleague and a friend. I am thrilled to be able to celebrate this tremendous honor with him, he is certainly deserving.”

Rachel Hildebrand (BS ’06), the director of TU’s athletic training program, added: “Dr. Gardner has been a rock as a mentor, colleague and friend. As a student of his, he shaped my career path, both as a clinician and educator. As a colleague, he has continued to impart his wisdom, expertise, and love of athletic training. I would not be where I am today without Dr. Gardner’s guidance.”

The need for athletic training professionals who can provide preventive, diagnostic and rehabilitative services is expected to grow 22% in the next eight years. Find your pathway into this exciting, expanding field at TU.