From staff reports
Clayton State Athletics has one of the all-time winningest basketball coaches and had some of the nation's top student-athletes, ranging from a national scoring leader and a World Cup soccer player to a number of All-Americas and former athletes starring in the professional ranks.
But one of the department's most recognizable faces has never paced the sideline as a coach or suited in a Laker uniform.
He is longtime athletic trainer John Zubal.
For 15 years, Zubal has been wrapping ankles and taking care of Clayton State student-athletes, and if a student-athlete has ever played at Clayton State and needed treatment, he or she remembers John Zubal.
Zubal was recognized last week in Indianapolis, Ind, at the 56th annual National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) meeting, receiving one of a selected number of Athletic Trainer Service Awards. He was one of 32 Athletic Trainers to receive the award, out of almost 35,000 certified athletic trainers across the country.
"Congratulations goes out to John, he's definitely deserving of this recognition. He is a special person, and we are lucky to have him," said Clayton State University athletic director Mason Barfield.
"His caring treatment of student-athletes is unmatched. Everyone who comes in contact with John remembers him. He makes everyone feel special."
To receive the award, a nominee must have been a certified member of the NATA for 15 years and recommended by three people, including a physician and an administrator.
"I've been coaching a long time, and he's the best that I've worked with," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons, one the all-time winningest men's basketball coaches at the NCAA Division II level. "One the best trainers in the country. He brings an unbelievable work ethic and professionalism to our program and his enthusiasm is contagious."
In 2005-06, Zubal will begin his 10th season as a full-time member of the Clayton State program and his 15th year overall, as he began in 1990-91 on a part-time basis.
He is responsible for the treatment of all injuries and serves as the facilitator for Clayton State University's drug education program.
Renowned to the Clayton State community for his superior work ethic and caring treatment, Zubal was honored in 2002 with the prestigious Alice Smith Faculty/Staff honor, awarded to the top Clayton State employee each year. Zubal received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree from the University of Utah.
Prior to working at Clayton State, Zubal worked in the private sector, working with the Atlanta Trojans of the United States Basketball League.
He also has experience working at the collegiate level at Utah and Pittsburgh and in the professional ranks with the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Bullets (now Wizards).
A native of Pennsylvania, John and his wife Christy reside in Jonesboro.