Athletic Trainer to Athletics Director
By: Kylee Burkholder, public relations
February 11, 2014
Phill Talavinia wanted to be in sports, even it if wasn’t as an athlete. Bluffton’s athletics director used college majors in athletic training and business administration to do just that.
While still a student at Anderson University, Talavinia became a member of the Chicago Bears football training staff. He spent part of his summers at the Bears’ training camp, where he worked his way up from doing mostly grunt work to taping ankles and being an extra set of eyes on the field, he says.
He ultimately worked 10 summers for the Bears, well after graduating from Anderson in 1985 and starting work at Bluffton as an athletic trainer and director of Bren-Dell Hall. He moved up to head athletic trainer and associate athletics director and, when Carlin Carpenter retired in 2003, was promoted to his current position.
“The time was right,” says the Boston, Pa., native. “I had mentors tell me that they always knew I would become an athletics director. I was drawn more to that side of athletics.”
Now in his 11th year as Bluffton’s head athletics administrator, Talavinia says the biggest challenge he faced while making the transition from athletic training was a changed relationship with coaches and staff.
“I went from working with coaches and staff to managing them,” he says. “That was probably the hardest transition for me.”
Among his accomplishments after succeeding Carpenter was helping implement TEAM Bluffton to raise money for intercollegiate athletics. “We didn’t have a program like this before,” he says. “A lot of other schools had something like it. We took bits and pieces from other schools’ programs and made it fit our own.”
Talavinia, who earned an MBA from Bluffton last year, hopes to continue working at the university for the foreseeable future. “I work with wonderful people, I have great friends in the community and it is a great place for me and my family,” he says. “I want to stay around as long as I can.”