Don Bishop College Trainer of the Year



Valley and Upper Iowa graduate Don Bishop is pictured on the sidelines as UNI director of Athletic Training Services. In the 13 years he has held the job, 13 years in which he has gone to five NCAA tournaments with the Panther men’s basketball team. Bishop was bestowed his profession’s highest honor this week when his peers named him Iowa Collegiate Trainer of the Year. (UNI athletics photo)


1988 Valley grad
Don Bishop College Trainer of the Year


By Rich Holm
Union News Writer

Don Bishop, University of Northern Iowa director of Athletic Training Services, has been named the Collegiate Trainer of the Year by his peers in the Iowa Athletic Trainers’ Society (IATS).

Bishop received his award at a banquet held Sunday, June 2, at Loras College in Dubuque.

Bishop is a native of Clermont, where his parents, Neal and JoAnn Bishop, reside. Don is a 1988 graduate of Valley.

He attended Upper Iowa University and became a student assistant in training. In college it became a dream for Bishop to become a head trainer someday, knowing how important the job is in keeping athletes healthy so they can compete.

Upon graduation at UIU, Don took an outreach job with the Decorah hospital to assist Winneshiek County high schools in athletic training. That lasted two years.

Bishop had become a graduate assistant at UNI for only a few months when his phone rang. It was the UIU athletic director, the late Mike McCready, asking Don if he would like to come back to Fayette to be the head trainer. Bishop jumped at the chance.

His career at UIU lasted from 1994 to 2001. His reputation grew, and once again his phone rang. This time it was UNI A.D. Rick Hartzell asking Don if he would like the head job in Cedar Falls.

Bishop is humbled by the state’s highest honor given to people in his profession, saying, “I’ve had great teachers along the way and have worked with so many great coaches, as well as athletes, along the way.”

He added, “I always looked up to men like Kent Falb of Elgin and Al Martindale of Postville; they were my mentors. Kent was the dean of NFL trainers with the Detroit Lions. Al recently retired as trainer at the University of Illinois.”

Bishop ended, “We all came from small schools, so I encourage other boys and girls thinking of training as a profession to never give up the dream. It’s a great profession.”

At UNI Bishop is directly responsible for the health care of the men’s basketball team and supervision of 10 certified athletic trainers on the UNI athletic training staff.

He is also a clinical instructor within the UNI Athletic Training Education program, in which there are more than 100 undergraduate students seeking to become athletic trainers.


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