NMATA Hall of Fame
University of New Mexico 1990
University of New Mexico United States Air Force Academy 2000
Southwest Sport & Spine Center, Inc. 2018
University of New Mexico 1990
L.F. "Tow" Diehm
Known as the "Father of Athletic Training" in the State of New Mexico, Tow became the Head Athletic Trainer at the University of New Mexico in August, 1957 and remained in that position until he became an Associate Athletic Director in 1988. Born in Mildred, KS in 1924, he graduated from Paola Kansas High School in 1943. He was a World War II veteran who received a Purple Heart for his wounds received during the invasion of Normandy Beach in June, 1944. He was honorably discharged in April, 1946 and began his athletic training career at Santa Rosa Junior College in California working with his former high school coach, Carnie Smith.
Tow followed Carnie to Pittsburgh State Teachers College where he earned a Bachelor's and a Master’s Degree. This is where he met and married his wife, Pearl, in 1950. After graduation, Tow became the Assistant Athletic Trainer at Michigan State University. A year later, Tow began his long and faithful career at UNM as Head Athletic Trainer. Over the next 30 years he established one of the first educational programs in Athletic Training in the United States, promoted the hiring of athletic trainers in Albuquerque High Schools and around the State of New Mexico, lobbied for and secured passage of one of the first licensure laws governing athletic training in the United States, and was one of the founders of the New Mexico Athletic Trainers' Association.
Tow was a Charter Member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association and of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Tow served as Chairman of the Board of the National Athletic Trainers Association, established and chaired the Ethics Committee, and hosted the 1962 NATA meeting in Albuquerque, NM.
Tow's honors include the National Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame, the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame, the UNM Athletic Department Hall of Honor, the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award, the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Award, and the UNM Regents Meritorious Service Award. UNM also honored Tow's memory in naming an athletic facility after him.
Tow passed away on May 1, 1998 and is survived by his wife, Pearl, his daughter Teresa, his son Gary who followed his father into the profession of athletic training, Gary's wife and children.
Larry Willock is New Mexico's own first Athletic Trainer. Raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico Larry came to the University of New Mexico in 1964 to become a student athletic trainer under his soon to be mentor L. F. "Tow" Diehm. Larry became the first student athletic trainer to take course work in the soon to be created Athletic Trainer Curriculum program established as one of the first in the nation; which eventually became today's Major course of studies in Athletic Training. Among other firsts for Larry is that he was one of the first candidates to sit for the newly created Certification examination in Athletic Training designed by the National Athletic Trainers Association in 1969. Larry earned both his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at the University of New Mexico. A valuable member of the UNM sports medicine team Larry served for the next twenty-five years as an Assistant Athletic Trainer and then as Head Athletic Trainer. Larry was a leader in establishing the New Mexico Athletic Trainers' Association and served as its first President.
Larry has been a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association since 1965. He has served District 7 and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers Association as its secretary, its treasurer, as Chairperson of the Placement Committee, and as a member of the District Board of Directors. Larry also served as Chairman of the New Mexico Athletic Trainers (Advisory) Practice Board. During his tenure as an instructor in the sports medicine curriculum at UNM over 100 students have gone on from his mentorship to become athletic trainers. Larry has always been available to both his students and his athletes as both a teacher and athletic trainer.
Honors for Larry include, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame, the National Athletic Trainers Association Educator of the Year Award, and the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award.
Currently Larry is the Head Athletic Trainer at the United States Air Force Academy a job that he has taken on after leaving the University of New Mexico after 30 years as a student, assistant, and Head Athletic Trainer. Larry's two daughters and grandchildren still live in the Albuquerque area.
Ron was inducted on May 22, 2004 as the third member of the NMATA, Inc. Hall of Fame. He has joined previous inductees: L.F. "Tow" Diehm, Larry Willock, and Rich Gerrells. Ron graduated from Cibola High School. He then enrolled in the athletic training curriculum at the University of New Mexico graduating in
Ron joined West Mesa High School in the fall of 1980 as Head Athletic Trainer and Health Education Instructor. Ron continued to serve as the Head Athletic Trainer at West Mesa High School through the 2001-2002 school year when he stepped down as Head Athletic Trainer to spend more time with his family. Ron continues as a faculty member at West Mesa High School. Ron has served the NMATA as Northern Representative to the Board of Directors and as Vice President. His duties as Vice-President included planning and conduction of the annual education Symposium of the NMATA, Inc. 1980.
Rich currently an Athletic Coordinator for Albuquerque Public Schools. Rich was previously the Athletic Director and Head Athletic Trainer at Albuquerque High School had been at Albuquerque High since 1982. Rich has served two terms as President of the Association, a member of the New Mexico Athletic Trainers Advisory Board, and the Secondary School Athletic Trainers Committee and Task Force among his many leadership roles.
Rob was inducted in 2008 as the fifth member of the NMATA, Inc. Hall of Fame.
Rob graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and a Minor in Social Studies in 1978. Rob then went on to the University of Arizona and graduated with his Master's in Physical Education with specialization in Athletic Training.
Rob came to New Mexico in 1979 and was the athletic trainer at Albuquerque High School. In 1982 Rob accepted a position at New Mexico Highlands University and because the athletic trainer and assistant professor at the university. In 1989 Rob accepted the position as athletic director at NMHU.
In 1996 Rob left NMHU and became the athletic trainer and a teacher at Sandia High School in Albuquerque. Rob retired from teaching in 2009, but still remains as the athletic trainer at the school.
Rob has served the NMATA as the President for two terms. Rob has also served twice on the New Mexico Athletic Trainers Practice Board. Rob also served a four-year term as for the National Federation of High School Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
Rob was inducted into the RMATA Hall of Fame as well in 2008.
Leigh began her athletic training career as a student at New Mexico State University. Her first job was the head athletic trainer at Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas. After one year, she moved on as head athletic trainer at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque. Due to family obligations, she stepped down and assisted for the next ten years.
Leigh is currently in her eighth year as the athletic director at Del Norte. Leigh represented RMATA for two years on the Research and Injury committee for the NATA. She was secretary/treasurer for two different terms and the Northern Representative to the Board of Directors. Leigh also served three years as a member of the New Mexico Athletic Trainers Advisory Board.
Tim "Doc" Acklin
Doc was inducted on May 31st, 2013 as the seventh member of the NMATA, Inc. Hall of Fame. Doc was also inducted into the RMATA Hall of Fame in 2013. Doc graduated from Poplar Bluff High School and then worked under NATA Hall of Fame member Ron Carroll for one year. He then moved into the UNM Athletic Training Program and worked under NATA Hall of Fame member and NMATA Hall of Fame member L.F. "Tow" Diehm until he graduated in 1982.
Doc joined Mayfield High School in the fall of 1985 as the Head Athletic Trainer and a science instructor. Doc continued to serve as the Head Athletic Trainer at Mayfield High School through the 2011-2012 school year. Doc was also an instrumental member of the New Mexico State University Athletic Training Education Program and served as one of the first clinical instructors of the program.
Doc worked tirelessly for the NMATA and served on the Board of Directors for all but two years of the organization's existence. Doc has served on the convention committee, three terms as the Southern Representative, one term as the Secretary/Treasurer, two terms as the Vice President, and two terms as the President.
Doc continues to work as an athletic trainer with a physical therapy clinic in Las Cruces. Doc is married, to his wife Jonann, and has three children, Heather, Courtney, and Dustin.
Rex Bullard was inducted into the NMATA Hall of Fame in 2014.
Inducted in 2015, Mike began his career at NMSU when he was hired in July of 1989 as the Assistant Athletic Trainer. Mike held that position for four years under the direction of Head Athletic Trainer Ricky Mendini.
He was named NMSU’s Head Athletic Trainer/Assistant Athletics Director in 1993, a position he has held for Twenty-two years.
Mike’s duties include overseeing the health care of all of NMSU’s Intercollegiate Athletes as well as managing the daily operation of the Athletics Department’s Sports Medicine staff and facilities.
Currently, Mike works daily with the Aggie Football team. He has covered all but one NMSU football game in the past twenty-six seasons. Mike also worked closely with Aggie Men’s Basketball for fourteen seasons and accompanied the team six times to NCAA Post-season Tournaments.
Mike has also been an instructor in the Department of Human Performance and Dance for twenty-six years, teaching and serving as a preceptor for the Athletic Training Education Program.
Inducted in 2017. As a native to New Mexico, upon graduation from Eldorado High School, Missy elected to attend New Mexico State University. During her second semester, she was enrolled in Sports Medicine-190. This class caused her to change her major and spurred a passion inside herself. During her time at NMSU, she worked at Rentfrow Clinic, the Chiles Rugby team, the staff at Gadsden High School, the NMSU Roadrunner’s Women’s Basketball team, the football team and the occasional rodeo. This was also her first experience with the NMATA. She attended many district and state meetings and during her senior year, she served at the college student on the board for the NMATA.
Upon graduation from NMSU in 1992, Missy accepted a Graduate Assistant position at the University of Nevada, Reno. As a G.A., she was placed at Proctor Hug High School as the Head AthleticTrainer. It was at Hug High School, where she gained her appreciation for the high school athlete and the respect for the high school Athletic Trainer. In May of 1995, she moved home to Albuquerque to search for a new job. The Principal, Russell Goff of Eldorado High School offered her a job as the Head Athletic Trainer. That was the start of a 19 year career in Athletic Training.
During her time at Eldorado, Missy position was involved in scheduling athletic trainers for APS events, mentored as a CSI for the University of New Mexico’s Athletic Training Program ATEP, co-wrote the original policy for concussions in APS, worked with the UNM Neuropsychology department in data collection for concussions. She also served at the state level as the Northern Representative, liaison to the NMAA and served as a member of the NMAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. At the district level, she served on the Scholarship Committee for 11 years. In 2014, Missy was appointed by Governor Suzanna Martinez to be on the Brain Injury Advisory Council. She still coordinates medical coverage for the NMAA and teaches Health Education at Eldorado High School.
After graduation from high school in 1979, Daryl attended New Mexico State University and received a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education in 1984. Spending three years teaching and coaching at the middle school level, Daryl realized that coaching was not his calling, so he elected to return to New Mexico State to further his education in the field of athletic training. Upon completing a degree in Athletic Training education in 1989, Daryl received his certification and began his athletic training career in minor league baseball with the Houston Astros organization in upstate New York. After one season in the minors, Daryl returned to Las Cruces where he spent one year at Westbrook Sports Medicine Clinic as an athletic trainer/therapist.
Already having a teaching degree, Daryl realized that he belonged in the public school setting and began his long career as a high school athletic trainer and teacher. He left the clinic and spent the next four years at Riverside High School in El Paso, TX. When the position at Las Cruces High School became available, Daryl took advantage of the opportunity and spent the next 18 years as a Bulldawg. With the opening of Centennial High School across town in 2012, a new opportunity presented itself to move on to "new and better." Daryl became the athletic trainer at Centennial High School, where he finished his secondary school athletic training career. After five years as a Hawk and helping to broker a relationship between Mountain View Regional Medical Center and Las Cruces Public Schools, Daryl retired from the New Mexico public school system.
Daryl has been married to his wonderful wife Lisa for 29 years.
David is a 1997 graduate of New Mexico State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Athletic Training Education. He earned his Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State in 2003. David is currently the Deputy CEO of Southwest Sport & Spine Center, Inc. a private practice physical therapy business with facilities in Las Cruces, NM, and El Paso, TX.
David has experience in the NFL, Minor League Baseball and Soccer, and the secondary school and clinical settings. He is one of 10 ATCs in the country credentialed in the McKenzie Method and the only ATC certified as an administrator by the American Physical Therapy Association Private Practice Section. He has been active in the athletic training profession at the local state, regional, and national levels. He is currently the NATA District 7 Director-Elect representing the RMATA states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
Some of David's notable New Mexico accomplishments have been to establish a route for ATs to teach in the 6-12 grade setting using only their AT education. He has also sponsored the New Mexico Activities Association Athletic Training Challenge from 2002 to 2016. He co-founded Innovate AT, a business and educational platform, to help improve the value of the individual athletic trainer, and he created the Ultimate Sports Physical and Sports Health Expo, where over a million dollars of health care services are donated annually to help improve the sports healthcare of Southern New Mexico athletes.
David's personal interests include efforts in social justice, healthcare, education, and faith-based values. David and his wife Denise have been married for over 20 years and have three children, Marissa, Isaiah, and Elijah.
A Deming High School graduate, Kim O’Connell graduated from New Mexico State University in 1994 with her degree in Athletic Training Education. In 1995 Kim earned her Master of Science Degree Suma Cum Laude from California University of Pennsylvania.
In 1996 Kim began her career in New Mexico as Assistant Athletic Trainer at Mayfield High School, working under Tim “Doc” Acklin, and as an Athletic Trainer for the Nova Care Clinic in Las Cruces. In 2002 Kim became the Assistant Director for the NMSU Athletic Training Education Program. She has worked there ever since. Kim has since served as Interim Program Director, Director of Clinical Rehabilitation, and Clinical Education Coordinator before assuming the role of Program Director in 2018. She currently holds the rank of Associate Professor at NMSU. Kim has taught and supervised over 150 AT undergraduate students at NMSU. Many are ATs today. In addition, Kim has provided a leadership role with the High School Athletic Training Challenge and Symposium since 2016. Kim is active in the ATs Cares program at the State level and she represents District 7 for the NATA ATs
Cares Commission. She has served on a variety of University, State, and District 7 Committees. In 2014 Kim was awarded the NMATA Outstanding Service Award.
Kim would like to recognize and thank her amazing family for their love, support, and ability to always make her laugh.