Tarleton Kinesiology Lab Named in Honor or Dr. Steve Simpson


STEPHENVILLE — On Steve Simpson’s first day at Tarleton, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, Tom Landry was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and Prince had just released “Purple Rain.”

After 37 years and teaching an untold number of students, his commitment to the School of Kinesiology was recognized today with the naming of a lab in his honor.

“It’s a blessing and an honor to serve at Tarleton State University,” he said, When I came on this campus in 1984 it immediately felt like home and we never looked anywhere else.”

Dr. Simpson earned bachelor’s degrees in health, physical education and English from Hardin-Simmons University, and he took his master’s in health and physical education from East Texas State University and his doctoral degree, also from ETSU, in health, physical education and recreation.

A member of the faculty since 1984, he has received Tarleton’s highest academic honors — the O.A. Grant Excellence in Teaching Award, the Barry B. Thompson Service Award, the Engaged Faculty Award and the Jack and Louise Arthur Teaching Excellence Award.

Former student, Elecia Leal is an athletic trainer in China. Dr. Simpson recruited her to join his program as a freshman. She made a virtual appearance at today’s naming ceremony.

“He was the head athletic trainer my freshman year, 1985, and was looking for students to join his program.  I politely declined and continued to work with the basketball team. Steve continued to ask me to join so my sophomore year I told him I would attend a meeting and see if I liked it or not.

“All I can say is thank God for creating Steve Simpson and for making him so persistent. I would not be the athletic trainer that I am today if it wasn’t for his perseverance, teaching, knowledge, expertise, mentorship, character and most importantly his friendship.”

 Family, friends, colleagues and former students gathered to celebrate the formal opening of the Dr. Steve Simpson Athletic Training Education Lab during a dedication ceremony Saturday, Oct. 23. The event coincided with Tarleton State University’s Homecoming celebration.

The National Athletic Trainers Association named Dr. Simpson the Division II Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2009. He received the Frank Medina Award and the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award from the Southwest Athletic Trainers Association and is in the organization’s Hall of Fame.

“Think about the legacy he’s had in terms of physical training,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “Dr. Simpson embodies what we want to see in our faculty. That’s educational excellence. That’s academic excellence for his entire career.

“Not only are we recognizing him here, he was an A&M University System Regent’s Professor. He has given us so many hours, days, weeks, months and years. He is dedicated to making Tarleton State University a better place.”

Dr. Simpson’s research has resulted in 26 published articles and 40 scholarly presentations, including “Social and Moral Character of College Athletes: Is There a Difference?” for the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2017.


“Steve elevated the Tarleton State athletic training program to the highest level of the profession,” Leal said. “They say that our lives are a reflection of what we see. I can only hope that mine is half the reflection of Steve Simpson. He certainly deserves an athletic training education lab to be named after his outstanding legacy at Tarleton.”

Dr. Simpson created Tarleton’s undergraduate sports medicine/athletic training licensure program and was its director for 30 years. He led two study abroad courses, taking kinesiology students to Scotland in 2015 and athletic training students to Argentina in 2019.

“My favorite part has been the people,” he said. “Seeing and working with the students, getting texts from alumni, and all the connections with the kids over the years. I very much appreciate the alumni that are responsible for initiating this great honor.

“It has been an honor to serve the School of Kinesiology, Tarleton State University and The Texas A&M University System. My colleagues have always been supportive, and I have been blessed with great mentors.”

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