A few weeks before heading to the NATA conference to receive the Tim Kerin Award for Excellence, Dr. Robert Kersey could be found uncomfortably pacing at his own retirement party.
As colleague after colleague went up to the podium to praise Kersey – a man who’s spent the better part of 40 years giving everything he has to the athletic training profession – he tried his best to deflect attention. Though humbled, Kersey would rather let his actions do the talking.
“I don’t like to focus on me. I prefer to ask a lot of questions of others so that I don’t have to talk about myself.”
At this particular event, Kersey didn’t have to say much. Four words inscribed on orange cocktail napkins told guests everything they needed to know about him:
LIFE IS ABOUT CHOICES.
Those words have served as Kersey’s mantra for as long as he can remember. They’ve also helped shape his Hall of Fame career.
“It’s my very short way of saying we’re responsible for everything we do in life. Sometimes we get in a rut and say, ‘I have to do this.’ But everything we do is a choice. You just have to accept the consequences of those choices.”
Kersey applies that logic to himself, as well as to every student and athlete he encounters.
“My students would say, ‘I’m in the program and we have this class, so I have to be there.’ In those situations, my response would be, ‘No you don't, it’s a choice.’ I try to help them understand that we are where we are because of the choices that have gotten us to that point. I think that in the end, who you are and what you stand for are due to the choices you’ve made.”
Looking at Kersey’s accomplishments, it’s apparent that he has made a lot of good choices throughout his career.
Not only has he provided leadership as an athletic trainer and educator (most recently at California State University, Fullerton), he is also considered an international expert on anabolic-androgenic steroids and has served on several esteemed boards, including the NATA Research & Education Foundation.
His body of work clearly embodies the highest qualities of the Tim Kerin Award: service, dedication and integrity. Though he has received a number of honors, this award has a special meaning to him.
“I never knew Tim, but he seems like he was quite an individual. I’m blessed to be thought of in that same category of folks who have gotten the award in the past, and I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to give back to the profession.
“It is without a doubt one of the highest honors I have received. It’s pretty amazing that this country bumpkin from nowhere is being honored with these kinds of awards, but I am very humbled and blessed.”