Marshall retires after 4 decades of training

Brett Angel

For a guy who had never heard of Minnesota and never intended to become an athletics trainer, Jim Marshall had quite a career.

After 42 years as a trainer and administrative services coordinator in the Minnesota athletics department, Marshall retired from the only job he ever had June 30.

Friends and colleagues threw a retirement party at the McNamara alumni center Wednesday in Marshall’s honor.

“I gotta go sometime,” Marshall said. “I’m 73 years old, so it’s probably time for me to get the hell out of there.”

“Marsh,” as he is called by those who know him best, attended school at Ithaca College in his home state of New York before leaving to serve four years in the U.S. Navy’s submarine division from 1951-55.

At his father’s insistence, Marshall went back to school; this time at Notre Dame, where Marshall had a chance encounter with head football trainer Gene Pasquiet.

“He asked me if I was interested in being a trainer,” Marshall recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d try it out.’ You got paid for it, what the hell.”

Marshall spent two years as a student trainer at Notre Dame before earning his degree in 1959 and enrolling in a two-year physical therapy program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

There, Marshall’s roommate introduced him to Minnesota head football trainer Lloyd “Snapper” Stein, who offered him a job at the University.

“I graduated one day from the Mayo Clinic and started as a trainer at Minnesota the next,” Marshall said.

That day was Sept. 1, 1961. He’s been at Minnesota ever since, with plenty of memories to share after 42 years on the job.

In his first year as a trainer, “Marsh” traveled with the football team to the 1962 Rose Bowl – the Gophers last trip to Pasadena. The trip doubled as the honeymoon for him and his wife Mary Lee, who were married just weeks earlier.

After one year on the job, Marshall was offered a job as head trainer of the American Football League’s New York Jets. He turned it down after the University granted him a $1,000 raise in his $4,500 salary.

“I guess they wanted me to stay,” Marshall said.

In his time at Minnesota, Marshall has been through eight athletics directors and a countless number of coaches.

And the kid from Gouverneur, N.Y., became a Gopher at heart.

“To this day, the basement of his house (in Roseville, Minn.) is carpeted in gold and Astroturf green,” said Marshall’s son, Peter.

Marshall figures he’s treated between 8,000 and 9,000 athletes in his career, but the kids he worked with remember him as much for his inspiration as his treatment.

“This man was the father that we did not have,” said former Minnesota cornerback Ken Foxworth. “He gave us something we never thought we could have: hope.”

Foxworth was told he was unlikely to graduate because of a learning disability, but bolstered by Marshall’s inspiration he received a degree in 1980 and went on to earn his master’s degree and a doctoral degree.

After serving as a trainer in the men’s athletics department for more than 20 years, Marshall has handled administrative and health-care duties since the late 1980s.

His 42-year career is two years longer than his predecessor and former boss, Lloyd Stein.

Marshall is an honorary member of the Minnesota “M” club and is a member of the Minnesota Athletic Trainer’s Hall of Fame.

Brett Angel welcomes comments at [email protected]