On November 17, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

hero22_rrichardson_sm1Name: Russ Richardson

Occupation: Head Athletic Trainer, University of Montana Western (retired) 

Nominated by: Department of Kinesiology

For over four decades, Russ Richardson has served as an athletic trainer all over the world and in 2015, was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame – and rightfully so. His list of accomplishments is far and wide, extending from the intercollegiate level to the national level, including U.S. Olympic wrestling, the World Cup of Wrestling, Skate America and USA boxing, among others. He set his roots at the University of Montana Western where he served as the head athletic trainer and later, athletic director. Although now retired, his passion for the profession still lives on.

Richardson is renowned for his holistic approach to student-athlete well-being and has been recognized for his expertise on topics such as dealing with catastrophic injury of a student-athlete, managing substance abuse and use in intercollegiate athletics and the mental health concerns in today’s student-athlete. 

I loved working with collegiate athletes, especially at the small college,” Richardson said. “As their athletic trainer, I was able to develop close relationships with them and really impact their life. At the small college level, the student-athlete knows they aren’t going pro so they tend to have a bit more life balance and a healthier perspective on their athletic participation.”

Today, Richardson is devoted to mentoring young professionals and other athletic trainers. He emphasized that in the field, it’s important to model servant leadership, while also maintaining a personal work-life balance. It’s something he knows all too well. 

“Athletic trainers have worked sacrificially (impacting their personal life’s adversely) for too long,” Richardson said. “It is unhealthy to make your patients 100% dependent on you for their care. We are in a world of collaborative healthcare and many clinicians can optimize patient outcomes.” 

Russ Richardson recently retired from the athletic training profession after a 40-year career. Photo credit: Russ Richardson

A proud Fresno State alumnus, Richardson obtained his master’s degree in physical education at the university, where he says his worldview on cultural competence and diversity in healthcare was widely broadened and nurtured. He says the university gave him the ability to advocate for people from a diverse perspective in ways he hadn’t dreamt possible

It is great to be a bulldog,” Richardson said. “I owe a lot to Fresno State for helping shape me into the leader, caregiver, and father that I am today. So many people like Dr. Richard Francis, Ed Ferrerra, Paul Schecter, and Dr. Rita Flake challenged me to go beyond just being good, but rather striving for excellence in every aspect of life.” 

The 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.

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Bulldog Alums Vie for NATA Presidential Title