Jeff Stone had a pretty good idea what he wanted to do professionally when he was an eighth-grade student in Ashland, MA. That’s when Stone began wrapping ankles for the Ashland High School football team, pulling rolls of tape and other tools of the trade out of a car trunk.
“It was one of those things that I picked up as I went along,” Stone said. “I learned something every day and I realized it was something I was very interested in.”
From its rudimentary beginnings, Stone’s career has risen to a level only a select few athletic trainers ever reach. In April, Stone was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame. The award represents the highest honor for athletic trainers who exemplify NATA’s mission “through significant, lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.”
“It was a very humbling experience,” said Stone, who has been the head athletic trainer at Suffolk University for eight years and also serves as the medical coordinator for the Massachusetts Bay State Games. “It means a lot to me because there were people who took me under their wing and help me learn by example. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without people like Jack Baynes and Koko Kassabian. They are both mentors and friends to me.”
Baynes was Northeastern’s head athletic trainer for parts of three decades while Krekor "Koko" Kassabian was the longtime director of Northeastern’s athletic training program and founder of the university’s sports medicine program.
Stone was one of the first graduates of Northeastern’s athletic training education program, graduating in 1976, and has also served as an athletic trainer at Framingham State College, Natick High School, and Marian High School, all in Massachusetts, as well as the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center just of the Northeastern campus.
“I came to Northeastern because of the co-op program and I immediately felt like Northeastern was the right place for me,” said Stone, who in 2011 was also inducted into the Athletic Trainers of Massachusetts (ATOM) Hall of Fame. “It really opened some doors for me.”
Stone did each of his co-ops at Framingham State College [now University], not far from his home. Administrators at the college were so impressed with his work that Stone was offered a full-time position upon graduation, not only as the school’s athletic trainer but also as its director of sports information.
“Northeastern put me in a position to succeed because of the hands-on experience I got through co-op,” said Stone, who in May was named one of the NATA’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainers for 2011. “When I graduated I was fully prepared for my profession, plus I had already proven my abilities because of exposure I got through co-op. It really set me up to succeed.”