The Valdosta State Athletic Department is held in high regard in the profession of athletic training, and that reputation is expected to carry on under the leadership of Jay Johnson, who was recently announced as Blazer Athletics’ newest Head Athletic Trainer by Athletic Director Herb Reinhard.
“I am really excited about having Jay join our team,” said Reinhard on Tuesday. “Jay is a graduate of our athletic training program and was a part of our athletic training staff for our 2004 football national championship team, so he has a really good understanding of Valdosta State.”
Having served as a Head Athletic Trainer at Georgia Southwestern for four years before taking over the head position at Florida Tech in 2011, Johnson brings over 10 years of experience in the position to Valdosta State. His roots run deep at VSU, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training under the tutelage of departing Head Athletic Trainer Russ Hoff, whom Johnson refers to as a mentor.
“The Head Athletic Trainer job at Valdosta State is a dream job for me,” said Johnson. “I spent all of my undergrad years in Valdosta and graduated in 2005. One of the things that drew me to the university then was athletics. I knew nothing about athletic training when I first came to VSU, but by the time I graduated, the incredibly high standards of professionalism instilled in me a great pride to be a part of something as special as what has been developed at Valdosta State.”
Following his graduation from VSU, Johnson achieved a Masters degree in Health and Physical Education with a concentration in Health Promotion at Georgia College and State University, which prepared him for a smooth transition into the start of his professional career at Georgia Southwestern.
During his career, Johnson has served as a member of both the Georgia Athletic Trainers Association while at Georgia Southwestern and the Athletic Training Association of Florida since his move to Florida Tech. Johnson has also been a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association since 2005.
While at Florida Tech, Johnson brought tremendous growth to the program. In addition to personally authoring all of Florida Tech’s sports medicine policies and procedures, he oversaw the growth of the institution’s expansion from three to six full-time athletic trainers. Furthermore, Johnson took responsibility for each of Florida Tech’s 24 varsity sports, while helping to develop a community among athletic trainers throughout the Space Coast region.
“Jay’s experience as the head athletic trainer at Georgia Southwestern and then for the last six years at Florida Tech has prepared him well to take over the reins at VSU,” added Reinhard. “He has overseen the growth and development of the athletic training department at Florida Tech in conjunction with their recent addition of football, and that experience is most valuable.”
“The legacy of Valdosta State athletic training is not something I take lightly,” concluded Johnson. “I am humbled to have this opportunity. I look forward to the years ahead, and I look forward to being able to work with the great athletic trainers and staff at this great institution.”
Johnson, along with his wife Michelle, will move to Valdosta in the weeks ahead and will officially take over his position at Valdosta State on July 1st.