New athletic trainer brings experience to FAMU

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

One of the things that Brad Swope wants to do as soon as he could is get to know the student-athletes that he will have to take care of as head athletic trainer at FAMU.

That’s just one of the many priorities that are on Swope’s to-do list. He said knowing the student-athletes is essential to being able to care for each of them who participate in 13 sports.

“I’m a very big relationship person,” said Swope, 59. “That’s the only way in life we’re going to be successful; building relationship with people.”

Swope comes to FAMU from Tennessee State University, where he was into his second year as an assistant athletic trainer. He’s been on the job at FAMU for two weeks, replacing Kyle Gaines who left after 20 years with the program.

Swope is an award-winning athletic trainer with 30 years experience. He is spending his time these days going through the equipment he has to work with at FAMU. 

Brad Swope helps a TSU men’s basketball player off the floor.
Photo special to the Outlook

One of his biggest discoveries is an in-ground unit in the training room at the football field house. The Lawson Center, where basketball is set up, also has two whirlpools and a SwimEx hydrotherapy pool.

“There is a lot to do here,” said Swope, who has been honored by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association multiple times. “There’s a lot that FAMU has in place. It’s good and it’s strong. Now we just need to take that and build from it and the results can be pretty spectacular.”

In addition to using the time that student-athletes are off campus due to coronavirus to take care of some administrative things, Swope hopes he could build a staff. Kimberly McCartney is his only assistant.

This isn’t the first time that Swope is working with a short staff. He’s done it at least twice before and is optimistic that he could enhance the FAMU staff.

He has the experience that says he can. Swope was as an athletic trainer for Welch College and Merrol Hyde Magnet School before going to TSU. A Springboro, Ohio, native, he’s also worked at Springboro Sports Medicine and Baxter Healthcare in Ohio. In Tennessee, he’s worked at Baptist Hospital – Sports Medicine and Sumner Regional Medical Center.

 Swope was inducted into the Tennessee Athletic Trainer’s Society Hall of Fame last year.

Men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum said he is looking forward to meeting Swope, calling his work vital.

“In those situations where an injury can’t be cared for in a timely way,” McCullum said, “it erodes the confidence of the student-athlete and the coaches because the athlete isn’t able to get back on the court in a timely manner.”

Swope said he decided to come to FAMU because it’s an opportunity to start anew and build something from the ground up.

“I can see myself bouncing from Lawson to the field house,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to do.”