In 1978, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer as an athletic trainer for the United States Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My three week visit included rooming with another certified athletic trainer. He happened to be Monte Smith from then, Chapman College. I recall vividly seeing him drive up in his little red Mercedes convertible with his white driving hat on the top of his head. What a culture shock for a 23 year-old, first year athletic trainer from New Mexico, but it was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until December 10, 2012 when my good friend passed away.
During those first days, Monte would proudly tell me about Chapman College being nestled in the small, beautiful community of Orange with the many orange groves and “circle” for a downtown. He would say to me every day, “Ky, you need to leave New Mexico and come to Southern California to work, so you can visit me at Chapman.” I must have listened as I became the Assistant Athletic Trainer/Kinesiology Instructor at CSU Fullerton in spring 1985. Covering my first baseball game as a Titan, who do you suppose was the opposing team – Chapman College with Monte Smith and a student athletic trainer named Jack Bauerle in the first base dugout. Fate again, I suppose. So, I wasn’t very surprised when a few more years went past and in 1989, I became the Head Athletic Trainer at Cal Poly Pomona, who belonged to the CCAA athletic conference which had Chapman College as a member. Monte and I struck up our friendship all over again now as Division II rivals. And it remained that way until 1992, when Monte passed on the reigns to that student of his, Jack Bauerle.
During my 13 years at CPP, I got a chance to spend time with Monte and his wife Bernie on many occasions and in 1996 and 2000, I was asked to be a consultant for the Movement Exercise Science first and Kinesiology departments second and their program/faculty reviews. Wouldn’t you know it, these program and faculty reviews led to Chapman University calling 2001 asking me to become the Director of the new stand-alone major in Athletic Training. I accepted and joined the faculty. One of the first people I met in 2001 was Dr. Barbara Mulch and we started telling stories of my friend, Monte Smith. Within an hour, Dr. Mulch had me working on a proclamation on Monte’s behalf to become Professor Emeritus. And a few years later, she and I, along with Jack Bauerle, initiated the Monte Smith Endowment Fund for his dedication in providing health care to thousands of student athletes and aspiring students in the athletic training profession. To make sure his legacy lives on, a contribution can be made to this fund at the
Monte Smith Endowment fun Page
With his passing a few days ago, I lost a friend, colleague and a mentor. But he is in a better place and I know he is looking down and thinking fond thoughts about me and that beautiful little City of Orange and that little quaint college known now as Chapman University. Rest well my friend.
Ky E. Kugler, EdD, ATC
Associate Dean, College of Educational Studies