Georgia Athletic Trainers Association

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GATA Hall of Fame

Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor the Georgia Athletic Trainers’ Association can bestow.  The GATA invites its members to nominate eligible and deserving candidates for this prestigious distinction. 

Candidates are reviewed based on their contribution to the GATA and the profession of athletic training.  A significant portion of the nominee's athletic training career must have taken place in Georgia, or the nominee should have made a significant contribution to the profession of athletic training in Georgia.  Exemplary contributions to the profession of athletic training--at the local, state, or national level--to include education, speaking, research, scholarly writing, community involvement, or clinical practice can be considered.  The nomination must originate from a GATA member and will be received and reviewed by the Honors and Awards Committee and forwarded for approval to the GATA Executive Committee.  Nominees must have at least 20 years membership in the GATA and/or the profession of athletic training to be considered for this honor.

The GATA is pleased to honor the following members of the Hall of Fame:


Henry "Buck" Andel

A native Atlantan, Buck Andel played football for and graduated from Boys High.  He went on to graduate with a bachelor's and master's degree from Georgia Tech where he lettered in both baseball and football.  Mr. Andel was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II receiving a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts for his service.  From 1948 until 1969, he was the head athletic trainer of all sports including track, basketball, baseball and wrestling at Georgia Tech during which time he served 14 Bowl teams.  For 18 of those years, he was a key member of the staff of Bobby Dodd, legendary head football coach from 1945 to 1966.  He also worked as an athletic trainer for the 1960 Olympic Games.  He was one of the NATA founders and served on the original board of directors in 1950.  He also served as District IX Secretary from 1951to 1953.  He was honored with induction into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1968 and received a citation from the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.  He was and inductee in the inaugural Georgia Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the NATA 50 Year Award in 2005.  Buck Andel passed away February 13, 2005 at age 83.1


Warren Morris

Warren Morris learned athletic training from two of the profession’s most notable athletic trainers - A.D. Dickinson of Northern Iowa University and Alfred “Duke” Wyre at the University of Maryland where he received his M.Ed .  From that solid background, Morris first served as an assistant at the University of Maryland, then served as an assistant at the University of North Carolina before he was named Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Georgia in 1965.  He  served as District IX Vice–Director from 1967 to 1971 then as District Director from 1971 to 1973.  Morris has also been the NATA’s representative on the NCAA Football Rules Committee and the Secretary and Representative on the Joint Commission for Science and Sports.  He has been, and remains, committed to athletic training efforts in Georgia as well; he was the first athletic trainer to be licensed in Georgia and has held the position of Chair of the Georgia Board of Athletic Trainers, a governor appointed position, for over 25 years since 1980.  He was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame in 1981 and received the AOSSM Distinguished Service Award in 1986.  Warren was an inductee in the inaugural Georgia Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2004 which also honored him with an annual award in his name, the Warren Morris Sports Medicine Person of the Year Award.1


Dave Pursley

One of the last people  to work with the Braves professional baseball team in all three host cites: Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.  Retired from the organization at the end of the 2002 season after more than 40 years.  Pursley started his career as an athletic training student at Central Evansville (Ind.) High School at age 14.  From there, he worked in the summers with the Braves' farm club, the Evansville Braves, that played just a few blocks from his house.  After graduation from high school, Pursley worked as an athletic trainer at Evansville College and later at Clemson University, while still working summers with the Braves farm teams. He gradually worked his way to the major league team, working with many of the Braves' greats-- Niekro, Aaron, Smoltz, Maddux, and hundreds of others--along the way.  He and his wife, Ruth, have been married over 50 years and have two grown sons, Neil and Gary.


Jerry Rhea

Jerry Rhea entered the athletic training profession in 1956 while a student at Texas A&M working under NATA Hall of Fame member Smokey Harper before graduating in 1958.  Jerry worked eight years in the Odessa (Texas) Schools, where he was Head Athletic Trainer before serving the Los Angeles Rams as Assistant Athletic Trainer for 2 years.  Jerry was the Head Athletic Trainer for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969 until 1994 and was a frequent convention and clinic speaker.  From 1994 to 2001 he worked as Assistant to the President of the Falcons.  During this time he also served as President of the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.  He was elected President of SEATA in 1982 and became District IX Director in 1984.  He was then elected president of the NATA for 1986-88 and served on many NATA committees.  Jerry was named the NATA Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year by Nutrament in 1979 and 1982.  He was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 1987.  He received the SEATA Award of Merit in 1988 and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Distinguished Service Athletic Trainer Award in 1991.  In 2001 he received the Tim Kerin Excellence in Athletic Training Award.  Jerry was a 2004 inductee in the inaugural Georgia Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame which also honored him with an annual award in his name, the Jerry Rhea Athletic Trainer of the Year Award.  The Atlanta Falcons furthered honored Jerry by endowing an NATA Foundation Scholarship and as well as both an undergraduate and graduate SEATA Scholarship in his name.



Tom "Doc" Smith

Georgia Southern's first full-time head athletic trainer from 1971 to 1994 ... Built school's sport medicine division from scratch -- beginning with staff of only one student handling seven intercollegiate sports (all men) to a four-man, 13-student department handling 15 sports ... Initiated departmental physician and orthopaedic surgeon program, recruiting area doctors to serve all of Georgia Southern's student-athletes ... As a well-respected member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, he maintained a thorough knowledge of athletic training dynamics -- a fact recognized when he served as chairman of the United States Baseball Federation's sports medicine committee in 1981 ... Served as assistant athletics director from 1975 to 1980 before assuming role of interim athletic director during the 1980-81 academic year ... Attended Indiana State University and starred on the basketball court ... He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from ISU, then spent 15 years coaching basketball at the high school level in his home state ... Said former Georgia Southern head football coach Erk Russell, "What happened with football at Georgia Southern could not have happened without Doc."2

Jay Shoop

Currently serving as the Head Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Medicine for the 17 intercollegiate teams at Georgia Tech, Jay Shoop is the first person inducted into the GATA Hall of Fame prior to retirement.  He has over 10 years experience in professional football, serving as Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Atlanta Falcons and later as Head Athletic Trainer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions of the NFL as well as a stint as the Head Athletic Trainer with the Michigan Panthers of the USFL.  Shoop has also had extensive experience working with elite athletes in the 1994 Goodwill Games and the 1996 Olympic Games. He is an avid collector of athletic training and sports memorabilia, and authored the official history of the Southeastern Athletic Trainers' Association (SEATA) in 1988.


1Information from the SEATA Hall of Fame website.
2Information from the Georgia Southern University Athletics Hall of Fame website