On November 26, 2015, former long-time Michigan Tech athletic trainer Randy Owsley passed away after a 20-year battle with heart disease. He was 69 years old and living in Joplin, MIssouri, at the time.
Owsley worked at Michigan Tech 18 years as the head athletic trainer, working with all of the various Michigan Tech sports programs. He affected athletes from the hockey program to the tennis program and everything in between.
“Randy was just a gentle gentleman,” said current Huskies hockey coach Mel Pearson, who played for the Huskies from 1977-81. “He went about his job more quiet, but very professional.”
Pearson was privy to another side of Owsley besides the professional one.
“He had a good sense of humor,” said Pearson. “[He was] just a wonderful person. That’s how I remember him and obviously, his family. [They were] very giving and very warm people.”
Pearson felt that nearly every athlete who was at Michigan Tech was touched by Owsley in some way during his 18 years on the job, and that they were lucky to have him around.
“[He was] just a first-class type of individual,” said Pearson. “He did a great job with the student athletes. He was just a real credit to Michigan Tech.”
He was not the only hockey athlete who fondly remembered Owsley. Former goaltender Bruce Horsch, who played at Michigan Tech from 1974-78, was a member of the 1975 national championship-winning team Owsley worked with. The team went 22-10-0 that season, defeating Minnesota in the title game, 6-1, in St. Louis, Missouri.
“When I came to Michigan Tech, Randy Owsley was the head of our athletic training staff,” said Horsch. “He was very professional and was a very, very nice man to work with.”
Horsch was impressed by the depth of knowledge Owsley contained.
“Randy was exceptionally knowledgeable in every area,” said Horsch. “He took very good care of us as athletes.”
Owsley was instrumental in keeping former tennis great and current Houghton High School volleyball coach and Chemistry teacher John Christianson on the court. Christianson played for Michigan Tech from 1972-75. He also coached the men’s and women’s teams from 1981-87.
Christianson said if not for Owsley, he would have struggled through the latter stages of his collegiate career with tennis elbow. He might not have earned Northern Intercollegiate Conference co-Most Valuable Player without Owsley’s assistance.
Owsley was interviewed in 1976 for a Sports Illustrated article on former Huskies’ running back Jim VanWagner. Owsley attributed VanWagner’s durability to a “perfect blend of strength and flexibility” in a story that ran in the October 11, 1976, issue.
Owsley served on the Michigan Tech senate during his final years with the school.
After leaving Michigan Tech, Owsley started his own sports medicine/physical therapy clinic first locally before moving on to other areas of the country.
Since 1990, he has served as secretary to the Board for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) which sets performance standards for most football, baseball, and lacrosse helmets manufactured in this country.
In the five years prior to his passing, he has served as coordinator for Sports Medicine Services at Mt. Carmel Medical Center in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Owsley was selected for the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society Hall of Fame in 1997.
His memorial service was held at Wellspring Church, Webb City, on Dec. 11. Donations can still be made to Wellspring Church through Mason Woodard.