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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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Special Feature
mule athletic trainer sinks teeth
into work, hall-of-fame honor

In high school, Muhlenberg head athletic trainer Steve Nemes had never even heard of the athletic training profession. But he did know he liked medicine and helping others. So what, then, did the man who has spent the last three-plus decades working in the field want to be?

What else? A dentist.

“I wanted to go to dental school at Temple,” said Nemes. “There are days, especially working in the bitter cold and rain, when I wish I would have. But I wouldn’t give this up for anything.”

Steve Nemes Although some hockey players may have benefitted from his original career choice, Muhlenberg’s student-athletes are certainly glad Nemes found athletic training. And so, too, is the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society (PATS), which on June 5 will induct him into the Pennsylvania Athletic Training Hall of Fame as the lone member of the Class of 2010.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said Nemes of receiving the honor. “I was taken aback when I was first told I was nominated and again when I got the letter saying I was to be inducted. It means a lot, and I’m very honored and humbled.”

So just how did Nemes go from wanna-be dentist to honored athletic trainer? It began with being waitlisted at Temple and deciding to attend community college rather than bide his time. There he made friends with an athletic trainer who recommended the field to him.

“I had always had an interest in medicine and athletics,” he said, “so it was a natural fit.”

Nemes’ friend directed him to Phil Donley, the head athletic trainer at West Chester University (and, later, a member of the PATS’ first class of Hall-of-Fame inductees in 2000). They discussed the field, and not long after Nemes applied and was accepted into the program at West Chester.

Steve Nemes After graduating, he returned to his high school alma mater, Parkland, for four years to teach biology and work as an athletic trainer. From Parkland Nemes made the move to Muhlenberg, where he is now in his 28th year – and still enjoying every minute.

“I enjoy the challenge when somebody comes in of trying to diagnose and treat them to get back to playing condition,” he said. “I also really like interacting with the student-athletes. We have a good group of students here and I couldn’t be anywhere better.”

Nemes cites traveling with the 1995 men’s soccer team to the “Final Four” as perhaps his favorite memory during his time at Muhlenberg. But even though he’s already going to the Hall of Fame, he plans on sticking around for plenty more.

“I still enjoy coming to work and still enjoy the kids,” he said. “For all the head aches that come around, the thank-yous override anything else.”

Receiving those thank-yous will have to wait at least a little bit, though. On Friday Nemes will take a break from treating the school’s student-athletes to receive some treatment of his own: knee replacement surgery.

“I sort of know what’s going to happen, which can be a good and bad thing,” he said. “But it allows me to see the other side of it and appreciate more what our athletes are going through.”

And as he’s recovering it will be his turn to be appreciated.

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