UHV athletic trainer named RRAC Trainer of the Year

In the most challenging year ever for college athletic trainers and team doctors, University of Houston-Victoria head athletic trainer Thomas Pribyl has been named the 2020-2021 Red River Athletic Conference Trainer of the Year.

Thomas Pribyl

Given annually, the RRAC Athletic Trainer of the Year award recognizes a National Athletic Trainers' Association certified athletic trainer from the RRAC who has distinguished himself or herself as a model of the profession in personal conduct and professional allied health service to student-athletes. The selection is determined through a peer vote with all conference athletic trainers voting.

In his tenth year on the staff at UHV, Pribyl and his peers across the conference were faced with protecting their student-athletes from a pandemic, creating and following new safety protocols, and constantly monitoring the health of their coaches and players. In addition, all sports were played in the spring which added more time constraints and stretched student-athlete care to the limit.

Pribyl started working on COVID-19 policies and procedures in April 2020, attending webinars and gathering information from other conferences and institutions to create departmental guidelines. He helped the UHV campus’ COVID-19 Operations Center with contact tracing within the athletic department for any positive cases.

“Every athletic trainer in the RRAC deserves acknowledgment for their hard work navigating such a difficult year,” said LSU-Shreveport Athletic Trainer and RRAC Chair Lance Champagne. “Selecting just one individual for this award was a near impossible task. This recognition is a long time coming for Thomas. He has been a consistent presence in the RRAC for years. He had his hand in helping develop a lot of policies we currently use and has served at the national level as well. When dealing with COVID-19 issues at the conference level this year, Thomas was on the forefront of pertinent information as it became available and was quick to share input with the rest of the conference. Congratulations Thomas on this well-deserved honor.”

Pribyl built the UHV athletic training department from scratch in 2011, creating the school’s first sports medicine facility and currently designing the second on the campus. He helped the school start a kinesiology program, and he is an adjunct professor in the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. He is also busy outlining a plan for a Texas Licensure Apprenticeship Program.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected by my fellow athletic trainers on the Red River Athletic Conference,” Pribyl said. “It is always a great achievement when you are recognized by your peers. I have to give credit also to my assistant athletic trainer Amanda Rathbun who is in the trenches with me daily as well the continued support that we receive from our Athletics Director Ashley Walyuchow, and our administration. We have a great group of athletic trainers and we all work together facing similar challenges, especially with the COVID-19 restrictions, but always with the safety of the student-athletes first. With what the conference was able to do for competition this past year, I think everyone is an athletic trainer of the year.”

Before arriving at UHV, Pribyl served as an athletic trainer in the minor league system of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for 10 years. He also previously served on the training staffs of two minor league hockey clubs, the San Antonio Iguanas and the San Antonio Dragons, as well as the San Antonio Texans of the Canadian Football League.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas-San Antonio in 1996 and his Master of Education in kinesiology in 1999 from the University of Texas-Austin. He has been a member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association since 1995.

Pribyl donates much of his free time to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Bloomington as a member of the parish council, lector, Eucharistic minister and music coordinator for the 10 a.m. mass. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, an active volunteer fire fighter and has served as president of the DeCosta Volunteer Fire Department for the past eight years.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paul Ebner