College and University

Emporia State mourns the passing of John “Doc” Baxter


College and University

Emporia State mourns the passing of John “Doc” Baxter

Article reposted from The Emporia Gazette
Author: ESU Athletics

John “Doc” Baxter, longtime athletic trainer at Emporia State, died on Thursday night at Aldersgate Village in Topeka.

“John Baxter helped mold the culture of Hornet Athletics through his work ethic and his service in over four decades at Emporia State,” Emporia State Athletic Director Kent Weiser said. “I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him for 13 of those years. He will be missed.”

Baxter was the Head Athletic Trainer at Emporia State and instructor from 1966-2012. He was named Director of Athletic Medicine at Emporia State at the start of the 2010-11 season, allowing him to step back from the day-to-day athletic training duties before retiring at the conclusion of the 2011-12 academic year.

A University of New Mexico graduate, he was a teacher and coach at Garfield High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and an assistant athletic trainer at the United States Military Academy at West Point prior to coming to Emporia State.

He was a member of the ESU Athletics Hall of Honor, Emporia State HPER Hall of Honor, the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Athletic Trainers’ Society (KATS) Hall of Fame. He was a 2003 recipient of the University Service Citation Award for individuals moved to service by a deep concern for and loyalty to Emporia State and he received the 1995 Darrell E. Wood Service Award from The Teachers College for his total commitment to professionalism.

“‘Legend’ may not be a strong enough word to describe Doc,” Emporia State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Don Weast, a former student trainer under Baxter said. “He touched hundreds of thousands of people throughout his life and not just the student-athletes at Emporia State. He ran camps for high school student trainers, taught classes at Emporia State in athletic training and provided care and advice for area athletes when asked.”

He served as president of KATS and was instrumental in getting legislation passed to allow for registration of athletic trainers in Kansas. He was a tremendous educator, and helped many student athletic trainers into careers in athletic training.

“Doc was one of the smartest and funniest men I ever met,” Hornet baseball coach Bob Fornelli, a former Hornet catcher said. “Even after the stroke, when people came up to him after he had gone blind he would remember them and make them feel at ease.”

Baxter suffered a stroke in January 2011 that left him blind, though he continued to serve as the Director of Athletic Medicine for the Hornets through the 2011-12 season. A dinner in his honor during Homecoming in 2013 was the largest homecoming gathering in Emporia State history. He continued to follow the Hornets throughout his retirement and was presented the game ball at Aldersgate following Emporia State’s 36-30 win at Central Missouri earlier this year.

“We lost an icon in Doc Baxter,” Emporia State football coach and former quarterback Garin Higgins said. “He touched so many lives over the years.”