Earlier this month, we spotlighted Sheila Gordon for Athletic Trainer’s Month. DHEC administers South Carolina’s athletic trainer certification program and develops standards, with the advice of the Athletic Trainers’ Advisory Committee, for the improvement of athletic training services for the over 1,000 certified athletic trainers in the state.
As we wrap up March, we wanted to highlight Danny Poole, who serves on the aforementioned DHEC Athletic Trainers Advisory Committee and who recently retired after a 40-year career.
Few athletic trainers can say they’ve been on the sidelines for 37 bowl games and four college championship games. During his 40-year career, Danny Poole has worked with teams ranked among the most elite college football programs in the country.
Like Sheila, his passion for the profession began in his teens.
“I started working as a student athletic trainer in the high school,” Danny said. “I just wanted to be around it. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the athletes and coaches.”
After graduating from Western Carolina University with a degree in health and physical education in 1979, he joined the Carolina Chargers of the American Football Association as the head athletic trainer. In the same year, his academic article for treating blisters was published in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Journal under the title “D.P. Method for Blisters.”
In 1980, Danny became an assistant athletic trainer at the University of Memphis. While there, he also earned his master’s degree in health education.
In 1984, he joined Clemson University, working under the legendary Fred Hoover. After Hoover’s retirement, Danny became the director of sports medicine where he forged his own distinctive legacy. As Clemson’s director of sports medicine, Danny directed a staff of 12 full-time athletic trainers, seven graduate assistants, and approximately 19 undergraduates that oversaw the health and wellness of over 500 student-athletes.
Danny retired from the position in February 2022 after serving in the capacity for 21 years.
During his decades of service, Danny has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2010, he earned the award named for his former boss, the Fred Hoover Award of Excellence. It is the highest honor bestowed by the South Carolina Athletic Trainers Association.
“It’s a very prestigious award and our hall of fame,” Danny said. “It’s a great blessing to have received it.”
Danny was honored in 2001 with the Athletic Trainer’s Service Award, presented by the National Athletic Trainers Association to role models and leaders in the field. Beginning in 2010, he served two terms as the president of the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Medicine Association.
Besides service on the DHEC Athletic Trainers Advisory Committee, Danny also serves on the advisory board for several knee brace companies.
Reflecting on his career, Danny explained how he has seen the profession of athletic training evolve. Most notably is how the number of athletic trainers has grown.
“It was a very young profession when I got into this,” he said. “There were not many athletic trainers, even in the college setting. It’s evolved tremendously over the years.”
“The emphasis was put on that the athletic trainers are just the people who tape ankles and make sure they have water on the sidelines. It’s a lot more than that. We deal with acute care, first-aid, prevention, and rehabilitation. We get respect now in the medical community.”
In a House Resolution adopted on Feb. 10, 2022, congratulating Danny on his retirement, Head Coach Dabo Sweeney said, “I’m so thankful and appreciative of him. He’s retired from being the full-time trainer, but he still wants to serve Clemson and will still have a role in the athletic department.”
There’s no doubt that the next director of sports medicine at Clemson University will have tremendous shoes to fill.