Coberley Named National Athletic Trainer of the Year
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Praise for Coberley comes straight from the top.
"We are very excited to learn that Mark was named National Athletic Trainer of the Year," Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. "Mark is a very dedicated, passionate and highly skilled sports medicine provider who is an invaluable member of our administrative team. This honor is well deserved and we are proud to have Mark as a member of our Cyclone family."
It didn't happen overnight.
"I went to a camp in high school," Coberley said. "After I got there, a guy stood up and said, 'I'm the athletic trainer working the camp and here's what I do for a job.' I knew I wanted to get into the medical field and I really enjoyed sports."
Coberley, who was born in Des Moines and attended New London High, started asking around about the sports medicine profession.
"I was recruited as an athlete in high school," Coberley said. "Every place I went I asked about athletic training. Every place I went they said if I wanted to get into athletic training I needed to get in contact with Frank Randall. He was the guy. So I contacted him and ended up coming to Iowa State for school and not pursuing playing sports."
Randall, who served as head athletics trainer at Iowa State from 1970-1998, was a legend in what became known as sports medicine. In 1991 he was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame. Randall was more than an athletic trainer. He influenced and mentored countless student-athletes, student athletic trainers and co-workers. He was universally respected by Iowa State's coaches.
Coberley enrolled at Iowa State in 1983. He was one of 15 student athletic trainers under Randall and soaked up all he could gleam from the Iowa State Hall of Famer.
"The biggest thing I learned from Frank was to keep working until you get it done," Coberley said. "It sounds simple. If you are working with a student-athlete on healing an injury or trying to put together a program for the students, work until the job is done."
Coberley graduated from Iowa State with a bachelor's degree in biology. From there he went to Arizona to get a master's degree in athletic training. Coberley then went to Wichita State and for three years served as the athletic trainer for Shocker baseball.
"I had a great time at Wichita State," Coberley said. "Wichita State was in the NCAA College World Series all three years I was there. We were national runner-up twice. After three years, I was interviewing for a couple jobs and Frank actually had a job open up and he called me and wanted to know if I'd come back and interview. I did. We kind of agreed I would stay for two or three years and then move. I started back here full time in the fall of 1993."
In 1998 Randall moved into an operations administrative position. He had a replacement in mind.
"In the back of your mind you always have an idea of who you would hire if you moved on," Randall said. "We have had an outstanding program with graduates all over the country. Mark stood out. We gave him the opportunity. His work ethic, knowledge, desire to be well-educated professional made him the right man for the position."
For his part, Coberley loves his job.
"To me the best part of the job is the people you get to meet, learn about and work beside," Coberley said. "I enjoy working with people who have a plan. It doesn't matter whether it's the team in general or if you've got someone that's injured and they're at their lowest emotional point. You face the challenge of getting back to competition together. When people work through the hard times and get back to the good times, that's the best part of the job for me."
Coberley has the respect of his staff of seven certified athletic trainers, who have a combined 84 years of experience and 60 undergraduate athletic training students. Associate director and head football athletic trainer Shannon Peel says the long tenure of the Iowa State athletic training staff in the revolving door world of collegiate athletics underscores Coberley's reputation.
"I believe this speaks volumes for the type of program and leadership that is found in the athletic training department at Iowa State," Peel said. "I am certainly proud of Mark as a member of our profession, a mentor, and friend. (The staff) sees this award as an extraordinary way to recognize him for all he has done for the profession and those around him."
Randall was a tough act to follow. Now it seems that whoever will step into Coberley's shoes in the future will face the same challenge.