Civic Engagement Day keynote speaker: Larry Starr

Yoder Recital hall was filled with students on the night of March 25, 2015 as Bluffton University’s Civic Engagement Day brought in former athletic trainer Larry Starr. Starr was first introduced to athletic training back in 1960, in the summer before his freshman year of high school, when his brother was doing lessons from the Cramer Correspondence book on athletic training.

He eventually went on to attend Ohio University, where he decided that athletic training was the career for him, while learning the ways of Al Hart. While Starr was a junior at Ohio University, Hart offered him a job as assistant athletic trainer. He could not take that title due to not having his degree yet so they settled on Star being the assistant to the athletic trainer.

At the age of 23, Hart called Starr asking if he wanted to interview for a Major League Baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. During the interview Starr was told that they loved him but were concerned with his lack of height, or in his words “vertically challenged,” and youthful appearance. A week later he was asked to come in for another interview where the same things were said about his appearance. He was hired anyway based on an impressive reference.

An orthopedic physician in Columbus, Ohio, told them that Starr “stands tall above all men,” when asked about his height. Starr second guessed his decision, wondering whether or not he should take the job. Starr’s brother persuaded him to take the job, as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

1974, after being with the reds for a few years, Starr noticed that the players weren’t as fit as they should be. Asking for money and permission, Starr was able to start a strength program for the team. Much of the staff/coaches believed that a strength program wasn’t smart for baseball players, and to their surprise Starr’s program led the Reds to a World Series in 1975.

“No matter what kind of player they are, there is always something good in that player,” said Starr, “You have to understand the people you work with.”

Starr believes that athletics teach individuals great things. According to him, athletics teach players to develop a great work ethic, how to overcome adversity, mentorship, and the importance of family. Being in athletics involves being away from family, as well as causing many obstacles that athletes have to overcome. You must remember where you came from, and who has helped you out along the way.

Starr concluded by saying, “It doesn’t matter how much I know, if the athlete doesn’t trust me, I am of no help to them.”