Where do you start an investigation when there are so many fingerprints that you can’t pick a set to investigate? Some people leave a legacy which is painted across such a broad canvas that to pick a certain point to focus on would be missing out on the rest.
Kelly Gaughan was one of those for the Franciscan University Athletics Department. Gaughan, who served as Head Athletic Trainer, creator and overseer of the Sports Medicine Assistant program for 11 years and Senior Woman Administrator for her last two and a half years, recently moved on to become the Associate Athletic Trainer at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, where she received her undergraduate degree.
Behind her, Gaughan leaves 11 years of hard work as a testament to her commitment to a Christ-centered focus for athletics.
Originally hoping to practice her interview skills, Gaughan applied for the position at Franciscan, and “apparently my practice went well because I was offered the position,” she said in an e-mail interview. “Initially I planned to stay a year … maybe two. Eleven years later, I don’t have a single regret. It was an amazing experience and a beautifully unique opportunity.”
When she took the position, Gaughan said she was handed two file folders with “medical documentation” in them, mostly written on notebook paper. This led her to revolutionize the Sports Medicine Department by setting up the program, complete with forms, policies, procedures and rules for documentation.
“It was very challenging to start from scratch, but it was incredibly rewarding, and I will forever be thankful for having had the opportunity to build a program with such amazing people,” she said.
Mary Raskob, sports information director, worked closely with Gaughan for two years after knowing her for several years when Raskob was a student. What stands out to Raskob was Gaughan’s “ability to connect with the student athletes and to make them feel welcome and taken care of.”
“She cared very deeply about what she did and … made that known,” said Raskob. “She wanted to see (student athletes) succeed above all else.”
Gaughan also designed the layout for the current training room by working with the architect and project committee, Gaughan said. Its former location was the corner of the gym, behind a curtain, and then in the racquetball court #2 before finding a home of its own.
These projects were happening alongside her normal duties of overseeing anything related to FUS Sports Medicine, which she described as “the care of the athletes, supplies, documentation, maintaining relationships with team doctors, hiring and training the SMAs, supervising the Assistant Athletic Trainer and so many other things.”
Gaughan said that the best thing about Franciscan will always be the people: “…the student-athletes and Sports Medicine Assistants in the training room, the students that took the class I taught and laughed at my terrible jokes, the staff members that really care about the students and have their hearts on a steady course; they are the ones that make Franciscan the beautifully unique and endearingly powerful place that it is.”
Raskob described Gaughan as loyal above all else. “She is the type of person who has your back from day one. No matter her relationship with the person, she will go the extra mile, especially if it benefits a student athlete,” she said.
The other thing unique about Gaughan, according to Raskob, is her integrity. “She cares about doing the right thing for the right reason,” said Raskob. “You don’t see it a lot these days. Everyone looks out for themselves, but her number one was the student athletes.”
Some of Gaughan’s biggest memories were trips with teams, such as going to Denver for Rugby National Championships, the University of Dallas with men’s lacrosse team and “getting to attend NCAA National Convention in San Antonio as the FUS Senior Woman.”
Yet Gaughan said it’s the “little” memories that are the “closest to my hear … the inside jokes with the SMAs and the times that a student athlete would come to my office and open up to me about a hurdle in life that they needed a little advice on approaching.”
“She was fun to be around,” said Raskob. “She could make anyone laugh at any time. I’m very happy that I got to work with her as long as I did. I want to say thank you for everything she’s done for us.”
According to Gaughan, leaving Franciscan wasn’t something she had planned, and “this opportunity just unfolded in a way that I knew I was being tested to take a leap of faith.” She attributed the new direction her life has taken to God’s planning.
“One of the hardest things about deciding to leave was not getting a chance to say goodbye,” said Gaughan. “I miss the students of Franciscan University and hope to catch up with a few if I can make it down on occasion for a game. Otherwise, they are always welcome to text or drop the occasional Facebook post.”
Gaughan’s heart still remains with the students and faculty she touched. “I truly wish nothing but the best for the Franciscan sports teams, Athletic Department and Sports Medicine Program. I am incredibly thankful for my time at FUS and will always look back on many fond memories of my time there.”
Gaughan’s legacy isn’t contained merely in the training room or the Sports Medicine Assistant program, though those were the biggest outward manifestations. Her legacy lies in the changed hearts of students, who were given the outward and inward care that they desired and needed to go and care for others they encounter.