This story was edited for clarity April 6, 2020.
Dr. Barry McGlumphy was never one to shy away from the spotlight.
Sitting on the sidelines or back stage as others performed just was not going to be his style.
“Barry was a go-getter,” said Jan Garda, retired principal from Trinity High School. “He wanted to be playing in the game.”
Since those days at Trinity, McGlumphy has taken center stage in the field of athletic training, exercise science and NFL circles.
The methods, the science, the curriculum used around the NFL and other professional sports, relates back to McGlumphy.
He is currently an online professor at California University of Pennsylvania, having developed and implemented the Exercise Science and Health Promotion Masters program there – which he coordinates – in 2002.
McGlumphy works for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, serving on the team’s training staff during training camp and also helping out during the season as his schedule allows. Prior to that, he served a similar role with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The connection was Rick Burkholder, currently vice president of sports medicine and performance for the Chiefs.
McGlumphy and Burkholder attended graduate school together at the University of Arizona, where they became roommates and best friends. Burkholder brought McGlumphy to the Eagles then to Kansas City.
“As an educator, Barry’s one of the best in the country,” Burkholder said. “If you look at his curriculum, it’s where athletic training is today. It’s now the model, preventative care. We’ve taken all of his program content and brought it into our daily teachings.
“While this may be the new wave athletic training, Barry was well before his time in thought process. He has made a profound impact on athletic training on the NFL and all of professional sports. Barry is one of the pioneers to change the model.”
The success and the shaping of the athletic training profession McGlumphy has had, is not a surprise to Garda, who encouraged McGlumphy to serve as a student athletic trainer at Trinity and to excel in Garda’s theater program at the school.
“Barry earned his way into major roles. He was driven. He met the deadlines; he was on time. He always did what was asked of him. Barry was very creative.
“He would go to school all day. Then head to a practice and then come to a rehearsal later that night. You could see his drive and passion. You can just tell when someone has it. He has the flame inside. Whatever he was going to do, he was going to be great at it. Barry was going to be a winner and make whatever he was involved with a winner. He’ll make it happen.”
Taking center stage
McGlumphy attributes his work and success back to his time at Trinity.
Garda provided an opportunity to serve as the student-athletic trainer for the Hillers’ football team. He also led the theater department where McGlumphy found his opportunity to shine. They also shared similar experiences from his sports playing days as a youth in wrestling, baseball and football.
“I was involved with the theater department,” McGlumphy said. “Jan knew I was interested to possibly going into physical therapy in college. He told me he would have an opportunity for me in working with the Trinity football team. I was very excited about it. The district sent me to Pitt for a student-athletic training workshop that summer. It was my first experience with it.
“So, I went to work with the Trinity football team. I didn’t know it, but they didn’t have an athletic trainer on staff working with football. I was thrown into the fire. It was one of the best experiences I had in high school and cemented my interest in pursuing athletic training in college.
“Jan was my first mentor. He certainly was the catalyst for me getting into the profession. Really, I attribute this to him. He steered me in the right direction.”
McGlumphy learned more on stage as well. The link between theater and sports made a lasting impression.
“I wrestled at Trinity through middle school,” he explained. “When I got into high school, I was more into theater. I wrestled my whole life, since I was 4-years-old. But I moved into performing arts.
“I was always interested in being in the limelight a little bit. In theater, it’s a similar approach as sports. It’s a team approach; it was a family just like sports. The two are similar in that you’re getting to know people and having someone to lean on them. It’s also similar in the sense it takes a lot of dedication and all are moving toward one goal. You had an event that was going to happen on a certain weekend and there was a lot of preparation for that event.”
Developing the plan
McGlumphy, 55, was hired as head football athletic trainer at Bucknell University after earning his undergraduate degree from Lock Haven and graduate degree from Arizona.
After three years at Bucknell, he was hired as an assistant professor for nine years at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, teaching undergraduate courses in athletic training and graduate courses in occupational therapy and multimedia technology.
It was there that McGlumphy helped spearhead the creation of the university’s nationally recognized athletic training education program in 1992.
“At Duquesne, we were able to create a working medical model and an interdisciplinary model that at the time was unheard of,” said Linda Platt Meyer, who McGlumphy brought to Duquesne to work with him and his staff. “We worked with the major sports teams – Pirates and Steelers – and branched out to work with Robert Morris University, LaRoche and Carnegie Mellon University to tap into other clinical studies.”
McGlumphy has served on a variety of Boards (Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society, Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Athletic Trainers’ Association Secretary Treasurer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Advisory Board, and many others).
He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Training Hall of Fame (fewer than 50 members) in 2013. McGlumphy is the former Director of Health Safety for the Carnegie Mellon University Driver Training and Safety Institute, focusing on injury prevention and using the sports medicine model of care in industry.
“Anyone looking back, they look for those crossroad moments,” McGlumphy said. “It seems like I made the right decision for a career path.”
Todd Tomczyk, director of Sports Medicine for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was an undergraduate student of McGlumphy’s at Duquesne.
He said McGlumphy has a “collaborative, charismatic, analytic mind, that allowed for constant growth.
“Barry was a mentor both inside and outside the classroom,” Tomczyk said. He added that McGlumphy’s association with the NFL, specifically the Chiefs, “continues to demonstrate how open and adaptable that Barry is. He’s a constant learner.
Tomczyk added that McGlumphy’s most outstanding characteristics are his “openness, high integrity and morals and accountability.
“(He’s) a lifelong friend, a mentor and a genuine human being.”
McGlumphy resides in Venetia, with his wife, Jami. They have two children, daughter Reilly – who is doing an internship with the Tampa Bay Rays – and son, Cole, a student at Cal.
Eric Kush, a Vulcans’ graduate and former football player didn’t meet McGlumphy until the two were at Chiefs’ training camp together. Kush was a sixth-round pick of Kansas City in the 2013 draft.
After bouncing around the league and having suffered a torn hamstring in the Chicago Bears’ 2017 training camp, Kush started graduate studies under McGlumphy for exercise science. He currently is a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Barry kept telling me to join the program,” Kush said. “Then the injury was a rude awakening. He’s easy to talk to and it is such a cool program. He kicks some butt. He’s so full of information.
“He has a warm soul. You can feel it immediately. Barry’s a fine, caring person. You get that right away from him. He warms your soul, too. He’s a happy person to be around.”
A champions style
Burkholder and McGlumphy are more than BFFs.
“He’s my brother,” Burkholder said.
Like any brother, Burkholder leans heavily on McGlumphy, “who gives of his time every summer for very little money to benefit my staff and the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Burkholder, who previously worked for the Steelers, said McGlumphy is the lynchpin of the Chiefs training camp as far as the training staff’s education and workload is concerned.
“When we go to training camp, it’s our highest workload of the year,” Burkholder said. “I have five student athletic trainers to go along with our staff. I bring in Barry because I want his perspective.
“He’s older with more experience and he gives my staff a perspective from a different angle. He’s a clinician, an online professor and socially, he’s great. As an educator, he’s one of the best in the country. We’ll take the trauma, the concussions and treat them. We try to prevent the soft-tissue injuries. That’s Barry.
“Some with a great wealth of knowledge, don’t do well in clinics. Barry is the hardest worker in our camp. It’s hard to find those with super intelligence willing to work their butt off. He does all the hard work in camp. It’s rare to find the super smart guy who is unafraid to work that hard at the most difficult tasks.”
Kansas City’s Super Bowl win over San Francisco wasn’t just head coach Andy Reid’s first Super Bowl championship. Burkholder and McGlumphy can finally boast of one as well.
“There’s something special about Super Bowls in Miami,” McGlumphy said. “Obviously, Coach Reid’s first championship was huge. It’s why you work hard. Everyone plays a part. I am so happy for the people, the players, the coaches, the training staff, everyone.
“It was very satisfying. I just kind of hung out with (offensive coordinator) Eric (Bienemy) afterwards. That was the biggest thrill of my career.”
Burkholder is no stranger to championship games said he doesn’t typically show emotion. But in the aftermath of the win, with the confetti flying and being on the podium, he broke down when he saw his children.
“I was so happy,” Burkholder said. “I went inside, took some pictures, showered and went to a big party for all Kansas City Chiefs personnel and season-ticket holders. We were there for a little bit and I said, ‘It’s time to go see my guy.’
“Barry was at the bar at the team hotel. We gave each other a huge hug and I broke down again. He’s family and I know what he means to me and to all of us.”