Fixing the human body at NASA, the Olympics and now at BYU

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Grunts, shrieks and tears escape the dancers as the athletic trainer works out their sores. Tight muscles are rubbed out and bones are popped back into place. The session concludes with a big hug, hoping all the pain will be worth it in the end.

How can someone who can extract so much pain be one of the most loved and respected dance athletic trainers at BYU? Ron Nuttall resides as the director of the dance medicine facility and dance athletic trainer at BYU. The dance department recruited Nuttall ten years ago.

Margaret Tata, a senior majoring in dance, admires his skillfulness but most of all appreciates the genuine and caring attitude he has with the dancers and everyone he works with. Nuttall’s goal is to not just make his patients feel better physically, but to also love, care for and uplift them.

“Who else can get you to smile and laugh all while putting you through the pain and torture of getting your muscles rubbed out,” Tata said. “I always feel uplifted after being around Ron.”

[/media-credit] Ron Nuttall treating a dancer’s injured foot.

Nuttall started the dance medicine facility at BYU, making BYU one of only a few colleges that have a training room specifically tailored for dancers.

“I came because it was pioneering and a little different,” Nuttall said. “I thought it would be fun to do something new.”

Elizabeth Hasek is grateful that Nuttall decided to become a dance athletic trainer. The impact he has had in her life this past year was so profound that she said she could write a book about him.

“When I talk with Ron, I know that he is listening and genuinely cares about me,” Hasek said. “He is so knowledgable, hardworking and charitable. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from him is the importance of not giving up on yourself. After working with Ron, I always feel very motivated. He helps me see the eternal perspective when things get hard. I think anybody who has worked with Ron will agree that he always makes his patients feel loved, cared for and important.”

Nuttall wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to study the scriptures and keep up with the latest research. Bridgett Dedrickson works as an assistant dance athletic trainer with Nuttall in the dance training room and has learned, through Nuttall’s example, to never settle. She has pushed herself to improve and be creative. Dedrickson also admires Nuttall’s knowledge and love of the gospel.

“The best word I can use to describe how I feel about Ron is respect,” Dedrickson said. “He lives his life in a way that can’t be described any other way. He is a spiritual giant and an expert in his profession. His many talents are a reminder to me that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Fixing things and the human body fascinates Nuttall. He loves to see people reach their goals and feels honored to be a part of their success, and is constantly told by many that he has the gift of healing. However, he has a humble attitude about it.

“I have been told many times that I have the gift of healing,” Nuttall said. “I suppose I do to a certain degree, but I don’t take it for granted. I recognize where it comes from and try to live my life so I will always have it. But that gift of healing comes with knowledge too. I’ve continued to study and read every morning ever since I graduated college in 1983.”

It has been almost 30 years since Nuttall became certified as an athletic trainer. He landed a job with NASA and became the wellness director, helped with employee wellness, wrote training programs for the astronauts and helped design the exercise equipment on the space station. Afterward, Nuttall moved on to his own private practice, became the sports medicine chair for the U.S. track and field team in Utah, traveled with the U.S. track and field team and trained Olympic athletes.

“I have the gift of applying knowledge and putting it into practice, and that’s been really helpful, particularly with the human body,” Nuttall said. “The fact that I can fix things that are broken and can make people feel better is most rewarding.”

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