Bonci to be inducted into Southwest Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame
July 6, 2011
Nick Youngblood, Texas Media Relations
Tina Bonci has devoted the past 26 years of her life to the student-athletes of The University of Texas, and during that time, as the Co-Director of Athletic Training/Sports Medicine for UT Athletics, Bonci has revolutionized how collegiate sports medicine is practiced.
Bonci wrote the training room manual from scratch, a volume of policies and procedures that today serves all 550 men and women student-athletes at UT.
To honor her, and a career of achievements, Bonci will be inducted into the Southwest Athletic Trainers Association (SWATA) Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the organization's annual meeting on July 15 in Houston.
In the 57-year history of SWATA, Bonci is just the fourth female to be inducted into the hall of honor.
"We all know that Tina is a true professional and an expert clinician. She has touched the lives of countless student-athletes, athletic trainers, athletic training students, coaches, and parents," said Allen Hardin, Bonci's counterpart as Co-Director of Athletic Training/Sports Medicine at UT. "While she has taught me a lot clinically and expanded my views on complimentary therapies, she has had the greatest impact on me, personally and professionally, by teaching me the importance of collegiality and collaboration."
Bonci was born to an Italian family in Greenville, Pa., and it was there that her athletics career began, playing softball, basketball and golf. Her athleticism however, was not the only sign of what her future would hold. Bonci also developed an affinity for horses and riding, foreshadowing a move to Texas some years later.
She began her career in sports medicine at Lock Haven State University and went on to receive her master's from the University of Rhode Island. It did not take Bonci long to make a name for herself in the world of sports medicine. She was appointed by the United States Olympic Committee to the medical staffs of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, serving as the head athletic trainer for the 1984 U.S. Women's Basketball team, which earned the gold medal.
Bonci also held a position at the University of Pennsylvania Sports Medicine Clinic in Philadelphia until 1985, when UT Women's Athletic Director Donna Lopiano and basketball coach Jody Conradt brought her down to Texas.
Immediately, Bonci began bringing UT's women's athletics training program to national prominence, and since coming to Austin, Bonci has overseen a staff that has promoted and maintained the health of student-athletes who have claimed 20 NCAA Championship team titles in seven different sports.
"Culturally, I had to adapt to Texas. Being from the east, people always said I was very business-like," Bonci says. "I had to change my whole approach, and I really worked on my people skills. The relationships have always been the most important things to me."
Bonci has been recognized numerous times for her achievements in sports medicine. In 2006, she received the Most Distinguished Athletics Trainer award from the National Athletic Trainers' Association. She is also a noted speaker and lecturer on women's health issues.
In 2004, Bonci learned that she had a cancerous abdominal sarcoma, a condition that she battled and recovered from before returning to her work in UT's training room. Today, she is cancer free and active as a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. She chairs the clinical program for the Southwest Athletic Trainers' Association and has authored a nationally-acclaimed document about detection, management and prevention of disordered eating in athletes.
"She has taught me the importance of establishing and fostering relationships, and has helped shape my definition of success," Hardin said.