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Sue Bush
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Berkshire Profile: Ron Stant

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ron Stant has announced his retirement from the Williams College Athletic Department after 39 years as a head athletic trainer.
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.

Williamstown - Ron Stant has experienced some unique moments during his almost four decade tenure as a Williams College athletic trainer.

Once, during the early 1970s, Stant crafted a fiberglass hockey mask for team member Bill Jacobs [Class of '74].

Jacobs was required to sit while Stant "plastered" his face and head to make a mold. Straws were inserted in Jacob's nostrils so that he could breathe.

When the time came to remove the mold from Jacobs' head, Stant made a discovery.

"I realized I didn't have any cutters," Stant said said during a Nov. 13 interview.

Stant and Jacobs headed to the college infirmary to acquire cutting tools but Stant decided to take full advantage of the situation, he said.

"I had Bill in the car so I drove him up and down the street a few times," Stant said. "He said 'you're just doing this to scare people.'"

Stant To Retire In June

Stant, 64, will announce his retirement later today at the college. The retirement will become effective on June 30, he said. He has spent 39 years as a head athletic trainer for Williams College.

His creativity extended to the playing field as well. As a trainer for Williams' football, hockey, and lacrosse teams, Stant has developed a clever sense of "make-do" over the years.

During a football game, Stant once fashioned a protective pad for a player's hand from disposable paper cups, he said.

His assessment of his career and family life is described in very humble terms.

"I just came, I went to work, and things happened," Stant said. "I came home, loved my family, that's what I did."

"He's A Legend"

Williams College athletic coaches describe Stant's efforts differently.

"He's a legend," said Eph's ice hockey Coach Bill Kangas. "He has done a marvelous job. He's well-received all over the circuit and he has friends at every rink we go to."

Football Coach Michael Whalen delivered praise for Stant's dedication.

"He has the utmost respect from all of us at the athletic department at Williams College," Whalen said. "Ron has always been very dedicated. He's always worked to benefit our student athletes. Over the years, the names and faces changed but Ron's approach stayed the same. He has the best interest of the student athletes at heart."

Stant's years of experience will be greatly missed, according to George McCormack, the college's assistant professor of physical education, assistant football coach and men's lacrosse coach.

"His vast knowledge of athletic injuries and athletic situations brings a great level of professionalism," he said. "He sincerely cares about the kids and you can't replace that. He is so passionate about his job and he will be truly missed."

Dick Farley, former football coach at Williams, said that to him, Stant will be forever linked with the "helmeted sports."

"These sports are a bit more physical, which means that there are more injuries and more kids to rehab after injuries," he said. "From a football point of view, he would always give me a worst-case scenario, and then look like a miracle worker if the kid was ready to play the next game."

"He cared a lot about the kids and he would keep a kid out for an extra day or two rather than risk the kid's health," Farley said. "He got to be a father figure to a lot of the kids. He is a legend."

Athletics And Education Lured Stant To Williams

Stant, who will be 65 on Feb. 14, came to the Williams College athletic department as a trainer in 1968 when he was 26 years old. He was hired by former Williams College Athletic Director Frank Thomas to replace Joe Altott, who'd resigned the post after 14 years.

Stant came to Williams after a four-year stint as an assistant athletic trainer at Dartmouth. The Dartmouth job came after Stant's 1964 U.S. Navy discharge. While in the Navy, Stant served as a hospital corpsman, he said.

His interest in Williams College was generated by several factors, he said.

"I was interested in a head trainer position," Stant said. "And Williams is similar to Dartmouth in that they are both strong private colleges with strong athletic and education programs."

Williams College was an all-male student school when he was hired and Stant was the only trainer; in 1969 Stant launched a student athletic trainer program with Tom George and Don Leckey as the first two training recruits, he said.

When female students were welcomed to the campus, Stant included women as student trainers. The first two women involved with the student trainer program were Martha Cook and Marci Holmes, he said.

Stant's schedule remains rigorous and very demanding. There is little time between the football, hockey and lacrosse seasons, and

Winning Teams

Stant rarely has any "downtime" between seasons, he said.

Farley agreed.

"When you think Ron, you think overlap," Farley said.

Stant has tackled triple sessions and has found himself on the playing field from sunup to sundown on numerous occasions, he said.

"I'm lucky that I've always been associated with winning teams," Stant said and noted that while he was at the U.S. Naval Academy, he was a trainer for Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach.

While at Dartmouth, that school's football team enjoyed an undefeated season, and Stant has celebrated several undefeated seasons at Williams, including the 2006 season.

Earlier this month, Stant watched the football team pull off another undefeated season with a decisive 37-7 win over Amherst.

During the 2005 football season, Stant was sidelined by illness.

Prior to that, he'd missed only two games over his entire career, he said. He missed one game to attend his son's wedding and another to attend a family member college weekend.

Take The Field And Sing A Few Bars, Please

Stant was hired at about the same time as former football Coach Renzi Lamb. Lamb and Stant spent much time together, Stant said.

"Coach Lamb was one of the true beauties of the field with the freshmen," Stant said with a chuckle as he recalled Lamb's strategies.

"I remember coming to the field and he's got these kids lined up two by two, and I said 'what are you doing with them?," Stant said.

"He was making them sing 'The Mountains, The Mountains,'[school song]. He said if they were playing for the school, they needed to know the song. So there they were, all lined up and me trying to figure out what the was doing."

Through The Years

Over the years, Stant has operated clinics for local high school athletes, initiated a winter study program for student trainers, offered some rehab services to high school athletes, and worked, at minimum, six and a half days a week during "season."

So it is not surprising to learn that Stant was a bit of star athlete himself.

As a high school basketball player during the 1960 season for the Reheboth Special School's Seahawks, Stant was among the players who enjoyed what was at that time the team's first undefeated season.

Stant is a native of the Richmond, Virginia area. He and his wife Elaine attended high school together. Elaine Stant won a field hockey award as a high school athlete. She has been employed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute for nearly 20 years. The couple have two adult children, Lisa and Jason, and two grandchildren, Kevin, 13, and three-year-old Charlotte. The couple live on North Hoosac Road.

Big Moments

In addition to the great moments witnessed during Williams games, Stant was in the stands during the Winter Olympics "Miracle On Ice" U.S. hockey team victory over the Russian Olympic team. He's traveled to Europe with Williams' athletic teams and worked with folks such as Don DelNegro, who is now with the Boston Bruins.

"I've still got my tickets from the 'miracle on ice,'" he said.

As his career winds down, Stant said he savors the memories of wins, of student athletes, of seasons and scores, friendships and occasions. He is ready to step down, he said, but perhaps not quite ready to let go.

"I've really enjoyed the kids and I am going to miss that, miss the kids," he said. "But I will not miss the hours. And the undefeated [football] season, it was a great way to be able to go out. I'm going to feel it [approach of retirement date] but I'm also going to feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the old days, there would be a three-week break between seasons. Now we go into games almost right away and there's a lot of pressure."

"I can't say it hasn't been fun," Stant said with a smile. "Our Trinity games have been fun, and we beat them this year. Trinity has broken our winning streaks and we have broken theirs. This year, we broke their 31-win streak."

Stant said he and his wife have no plans to move. Stant is a member of the town Board of Health and plans to continue serving on that board. He enjoys oil painting and is an avid reader, two pursuits he will soon have more time to enjoy. He and his wife hope to visit family in Maryland, particularly a certain "Aunt Virginia" who "makes the best crabcakes in the world," Stant said.

"I have had fun," he said. "I've seen so many injuries and so many rehabs, I remember when [Williams College athletic director]Harry Sheehy was a student here."

"Sports has been my life."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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