Jimmy Lawrence Retires from Virginia Tech After 40 Years

Posted by Monica Hoel
Jimmy Lawrence has just retired from a 40-year career as an athletic trainer for Virginia Tech, and he says there’s one experience that he has loved more than any other.

It was a little thing that got him into this work. As a high school kid, Jimmy was planning to be an engineering student at Virginia Tech. He was the football team manager for Shawsville High School, and when a coach dropped by recruiting one of their players he suggested to Jimmy that they could use him as a manager at E&H. On that suggestion, he changed his whole career path. “Forty years later here I am, and I don’t regret a minute.”

Virginia Tech Men's Soccer vs. Longwood But he wasn’t a student manager at Emory & Henry for long. There were two students serving as trainers, and when they graduated Fred Selfe asked him if he wanted to be a trainer. That sealed the deal. “I went to a conference at Marshall to learn the ropes, then came back to Emory to work with football, baseball, and basketball.” 

He says the two people who influenced him the most were Fred Selfe and Dave Thomas. “Dave would get really mad if I didn’t organize things right. But he taught me how to take care of things. All my jeans were white on the bottom six inches because he made us mop the floors with bleach every day.” And he remembers Fred (who, ironically, started as a player at Virginia Tech) as someone who cared about all his players. “And I remember him throwing his hat on the ground yelling, ‘Dagnabit!’”

After graduating from Emory & Henry, he went to work at Chilhowie High School, and on the first day there was a fight in the locker room. “The PE teacher said to me, ‘Why don’t you go break that up?’ That did it for me. I didn’t want to be doing that.”

He went to grad school for two years and got his certification in athletic training. When he started at Virginia Tech, he was one of only three athletic trainers – for every sport at the university. Now it’s all different. “Now we have a staff of about 20.”

He has worked with basketball, baseball and a lot of sports during his career, but he spent the last 15 years working solely with men’s soccer. He won’t admit to having a favorite sport. “I enjoyed them all.”

He’s seen a lot change, and he feels good about the progress made in college athletics. “Academic support is better, women athletes now get equal support, which is as it should be.” He says he has loved watching students grow up and leave to make an impact in the world. And he has seen the profession grow. “We are the gateway to healthcare for those athletes.” 

He says Covid was tough on the profession. “We were the front line for testing, trying to follow protocols, and quarantines for travel. There were really long days, and a lot of folks got burned out.”

Although retiring, he’s working part-time for a year helping with paperwork regarding insurance. His wife, Peg, also worked in athletics at Tech, so the duo has often been running in opposite directions. “There were times when we’d literally pass in the airport!” They’re looking forward to seeing each other a little more often now. 

He’s also excited that the head basketball coach at Virginia Tech is now a fellow E&H alum. “When Mike Young first got hired, he came down to see me and spent time with me. I’m so glad he’s here and doing great.”

When we first asked Jimmy about his favorite moments, he mentioned a couple of big wins. But he came back later to say that Peg said there was really only one answer to that question. “My favorite moments were anytime and anywhere Virginia Tech beat Virginia…in any sport!”

  • Jimmy Lawrence
    Emory & Henry Class of 1979

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2112-basketball-showcase-honoring-coach-bob-johnson"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,352,325/10543_bob_johnson.rev.1638380928.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,352,325/10543_bob_johnson.rev.1638380928.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,352,325/10543_bob_johnson.rev.1638380928.jpg" alt="Coach Bob Johnson, former Emory & Henry men?s basketball head coach." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="352" data-max-h="325" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2112-basketball-showcase-honoring-coach-bob-johnson">Basketball Showcase Honoring Coach Bob Johnson Launches Dec. 18</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Andrew Hart is organizing a basketball showcase aimed at honoring his former coach, Bob Johnson. But the rest of the story is that every team in the event has a connection to Coach Johnson.</span> <a href="/live/news/2112-basketball-showcase-honoring-coach-bob-johnson" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/843-decorated-french-teacher-lindsay-pulfer-langett"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.jpg" alt="Lindsey Pulfer Langett, E&H Class of 2009" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2053,2407/6382_lindsey_l.rev.1558464642.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2053" data-max-h="2407" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/843-decorated-french-teacher-lindsay-pulfer-langett">Decorated French Teacher, Lindsay Pulfer Langett, Headed to France</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> This 2009 graduate is grateful to the Bonner Scholars program for the chance to first study abroad. <a href="/live/news/843-decorated-french-teacher-lindsay-pulfer-langett" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1216-abingdon-farmers-market-is-open-with-a-twist"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.JPG 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.JPG" alt="The Abingdon Farmers Market at Berry Home Center in Abingdon." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/934,478,2579,2119/8046_IMG_9596_1.rev.1587141136.JPG 3x" data-max-w="1645" data-max-h="1641" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1216-abingdon-farmers-market-is-open-with-a-twist">Abingdon Farmer’s Market is Open – with a Twist</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Kyra (’77) and Tom (’75) Bishop are providing a safe way for local farmers to offer curbside service. <a href="/live/news/1216-abingdon-farmers-market-is-open-with-a-twist" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>