A lifelong learner, Ken Blood is never bored

Drew Bracken, Correspondent / Published 5:00 a.m. ET Feb. 17, 2020


Athletic trainer at Muskingum U has had a rich life as a teacher, minister and school board member

Ken Blood is the chair of Muskingum University’s athletic training department, as well as the school’s head athletic trainer

NEW CONCORD – Sometimes a trainer is a trainer, and sometimes much more. Ken Blood is, well, he’s much more.

“I’ve often said the word ‘bored’ is not in my personal dictionary,” he stated – and he’s spent decades proving his point.

Now 61, Ken Blood grew up in Connecticut, did his undergrad work at Marietta College, and in 1989 earned his master’s in physical education at Ohio University. He’s pursuing his EdD through the University of Findlay. “I believe,” he declared, “in being a lifelong learner.”

Actually, Blood was the first in his family to earn a college degree. Prior to that, he was an Eagle Scout and school newspaper editor, and he had dreams of becoming an architect. “I enjoyed an active and enjoyable youth,” he summed. Then came his sophomore year in high school – and athletic training entered “into the picture.”

“I had a coach/teacher,” he remembered, “who introduced me to athletic training and helped guide me through the process of identifying a good school. I credit that teacher with steering me to the profession I have devoted my life to.”

He came to Ohio in 1976 to attend Marietta College, specifically to study athletic training. He’s lived in the state ever since. After graduation, he was a ninth grade biology teacher for Marietta City Schools – and the high school’s athletic trainer.

“I love athletics and have always been intrigued by medicine,” he explained. “Athletic training allowed me to blend the two. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy managing difficult situations. Seeing a person succeed in athletics after walking with them through an extensive injury recovery is incredibly rewarding.”

He came to Muskingum in the summer of 1982. It was Jim Burson, the longtime legendary basketball coach as well as the acting athletic director at the time, who hired him.

“There was just something about him,” Burson recalled. “Did you ever get a feeling this is a good match after you’ve interviewed three or four people? I felt he was really going to be good.”

Blood subsequently served seven years as the school’s athletic trainer, took a bit of a detour to spend some time working for a group of orthopedic doctors in Zanesville, then returned to Muskingum in 1998. He’s been there ever since, primarily as the university’s head athletic trainer, and more recently teaching students his specialty.

He now has the multiple titles of director of athletic training program, chair of the athletic training department and assistant professor of athletic training. Plus, he’s a respected member of several trainers' organizations. In other words, if it has to do with athletic training, Blood has been there, done that.

“I absolutely love what I do,” he said. “I’ve spent almost 40 years investing in others, investing in their physical health, their education, their overall well-being.”

But that hardly tells the whole story.

Blood also served 24 years on the East Muskingum Board of Education. And he was ordained in 2001. He served as a pastor for almost 14 years with Friendship Baptist Church in New Concord.

“I honestly don’t know how I was able to balance all three,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to figure it out. My years as an athletic trainer and educator, my years in ministry, and my school board service have been rewarding beyond what I could have expected.”

Turning a bit of a corner he continued: “I’ve taught my athletic training students many things, but I stress two: Be the calm in the storm, and manage the moment. I believe I’ve modeled those two focal areas in my personal and professional life.”

“My life,” he concluded, “is rich for having been here.”

Muskingum University is a private liberal arts college in New Concord. For more information, visit


About the series

Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs – whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected]

Athletes at Risk?: How 2 states are responding to high school athlete deaths

 By: Chris Renkel and Stephanie Kuzydym, WKRC               Tuesday, February 11th 2020


ROANE COUNTY, WV. (WKRC/WCHS) – On Sept. 13, 2019, Alex Miller collapsed during a football game in West Virginia.

On that same day, Peter Webb collapsed during a football game in Oklahoma.

Both died.

They were two of at least seven boys in 2019 to die playing football.

The difference?

One state’s legislators seemed to move on.

The other was left asking what more they could have done.

Representative Rick Atkinson is from the same county in West Virginia as Alex Miller.

“I’ll be totally honest with you, “ Atkinson said on the phone from his office in Charleston, WVa., “I’m not one that’s looking for publicity.”

Atkinson saw Miller’s death as an example of a problem that needed a solution.

“It was just time,” Atkinson said.

West Virginia House Bill 4105 requires that public schools have a full-time athletic trainer on staff.

It was brought forward by Atkinson four months to the day of Alex’s death.

Only 11 percent of West Virginia high schools have a full-time athletic trainer.

In Oklahoma, it’s just 13 percent, according to the Korey Stringer Institute, which tracks athletic training services in all of the nation’s high schools.

The first obstacle is money.

“We need to try to get some flexibility built into (the bill) so the counties can afford this type of service for students,” Atkinson said. “It’s hard to justify that position in smaller schools in rural areas.”

Ohio High School Athletic Association executive director Jerry Snodgrass talks almost weekly with legislators. While he doesn’t know this particular bill, Snodgrass is worried that schools voicing their concerns over money would be taken as them not caring.

“On the surface, it sounds great,” he said. “It’s an unfunded mandate.”

Those two words keep athletic trainers from being a requirement in athletic departments in Ohio and across America.

You can’t require personnel in a school district without the funds to support them.

“It’s also real that schools have to come up with the money to do that,” Snodgrass said.

Atkinson said concern about unfunded mandates are why he introduced the bill now.

“Right now we need to bring the awareness to the situation,” Atkinson said,” and try to get that into the budgets and try to figure out ways to get that into our school budgets in the years ahead.”

So where does that leave us?

With conversations like this between a journalist and a coach.

“Well, Coach, obviously you and I have talked a lot through the years,” a WCHS photographer said. “Certainly this is not what we want to be talking about, but the loss of a great young man this weekend, and uh, tell us a bit about Alex.”

Paul Burdette nodded.

“Alex Miller was a great young man,” Burdette said. “If a man could ever picture what he’d want his son to be like, I think Alex would be the perfect picture of that.”

Since 1931, 702 high school football players have died as a result of football.

That means nearly eight players die as a result of playing high school football every year.