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Quick facts on ATSU’s college football team – the Osteopaths – and famous coach Patrick O’Dea

Yes, A.T. Still University (ATSU) once had a college football team, and, yes, legendary kicker and punter Patrick O’Dea – nicknamed the “Kangaroo Kicker” – coached the Osteopaths in 1903.

Rodger Sherman of The Ringer came across the tale of O’Dea and tweeted about his coaching career Wednesday, noting the odd order of jobs: two years at Notre Dame, one at the University of Missouri, and finally a season leading the Osteopaths. 

If that wasn’t strange enough, Sherman also explained how O’Dea later disappeared and was presumed dead by many as he escaped his football fame to live a quiet life as a lumberjack in the Pacific Northwest. 

This left many on the internet searching for more details about O’Dea and records of ATSU’s gridiron glory. Here’s what we can tell you…

American School of Osteopathy football players are lined up and ready to snap the football in preparation for a game against Notre Dame. Linemen are crouched, with the center over the ball.
American School of Osteopathy football team members during game against Notre Dame in 1903. This image is property of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine. Catalog number 1985.1003.04.
  • Six years after A.T. Still, DO, founded the American School of Osteopathy (ASO), a competitive college football team was organized. The team went by a few different nicknames, including the “O” eleven, the Osteopaths, and, beginning in 1922, the Rams. The latter was a reference to the “Ram of Reason” mentioned in Dr. Still’s autobiography, which was also the inspiration for our mascot, Bucky.

  • According to the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine’s pamphlet on the team’s history, team members referred to themselves as “The Osteopathic Beef Trust” because of their immense physical size compared to other students and opponents.

  • The 1901 team went 10-3 and claimed the title of Missouri State Football Champions, with its slate including a 22-5 win over Mizzou and 48-0 victory over the University of Texas. The team also claimed the same title in 1904.

  • O’Dea was featured in the museum’s 2003 “Now & Then” newsletter, in an article written by Michael Shutko. O’Dea was a native of Australia, and after coming to the U.S. attended the University of Wisconsin. He set several kicking records, including a 110-yard punt in a game against the University of Minnesota in 1897, and became a national name in college football.

  • O’Dea was hired as ASO’s football coach and athletic director in 1902 and coached the 1903 football season. The museum’s records indicate a 3-3 record, while other sources list the team at 5-3. Of the losses, one came against Notre Dame, which O’Dea coached in 1900 and 1901, and one to his alma mater, Wisconsin. 

  • The final mention of O’Dea at ASO came in the graduation program for the class of 1904. 

  • O’Dea was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in April 1962. He died a day after his induction at age 90.

As for ATSU’s college football history, a combination of funding and desire to concentrate solely on academics led to the team disbanding after the 1928 season. The team’s record over three decades stands at 112-60-14.

Nowadays, ATSU isn’t playing college football, but educating those who provide healthcare, athletic training, physical therapy, strength and conditioning, and more, for Olympic, college, and professional sports champions across the country

When A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) student Nathan Sherman, D2, decided to pursue dental school, he didn’t have any family connections to provide assistance or insight along the way.

Sherman found help during that period from student ambassadors, and upon becoming an ATSU-ASDOH student he elected to become an ambassador himself.

“There are many prospective students in a similar situation,” Sherman said. “It means a lot to get to represent ATSU-ASDOH and give back and communicate why ATSU is amazing.

“I genuinely love the dental program and feel it offers some unique opportunities for dental students. I love mentoring and being an asset to prospective students going through the application process.”

Originally from Provo, Utah, Sherman graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in economics and minor in business. He was attracted to ATSU-ASDOH due to the focus on community and public health, and has found a place to call home.

“I feel like the University is always thinking outward and of unique ways to help the community,” Sherman said. “I also love the balance built into our schedules and focus on success in the long run. I love the faculty and how invested they are into our long term success.”

Sherman enjoys skiing and music, both as a fan and creator. He loves going to concerts and has been playing the violin for 19 years. 

In the future, Sherman would like to be a compassionate clinician with excellent clinical and interpersonal skills, tools he believes ATSU-ASDOH is preparing him to use.

“I hope to own my own private practice one day that focuses on families and comprehensive health,” Sherman said. “A lot of the principles and attitudes I aspire to build my practice around are exemplified by the faculty and doctors here at ATSU-ASDOH. Simply by being here I feel like I am surrounded with individuals I aspire to be like.”

A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) student Zachary Taylor, OMS II, apparently likes to stay busy. 

Taylor’s list of activities and student organization involvement is, in a word, impressive. He is president of the Sigma Sigma Phi honors fraternity, Student Osteopathic Medical Association, and Neurosurgery Club, the latter also being his creation during his first year on the Kirksville, Missouri, campus. 

He is director of service with the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Club, and part of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry’s (AADMD) global health committee, which is dedicated to supporting Ukraine and IDD health disparities. Taylor is also an author of Helen Magazine, in which he writes about health disparities in the IDD community, and has more than 100 “touch” hours while serving as coach of Kirksville Special Olympics in basketball, bowling, softball, javelin toss, sprinting, and more.

He is the moderator of a nine-episode webinar covering epilepsy in the disabled community, and does neurosurgery on alligators with Bruce Young, PhD, professor, to measure cerebral spinal fluid pressure. Taylor is part of a student neurosurgery curriculum, known as NERVE, which is hosted by Cornell University, in which he helps other students interested in neurosurgery write publications and is able to promote his own work. In fact, Taylor is guaranteed a publication in the 2023 Brain and Spine Report, a prestigious research platform. 

Taylor will present at the National Neurosurgery Research convention. This is in addition to two other completed national presentations on IDD community-related topics, three other poster presentations at various universities in the future, and an AADMD Global Health presentation in April. 

Taylor is a mental health ambassador and helped recreate a mentorship program for undergraduate students attempting to apply to medical school, and has represented ATSU-KCOM at three national conferences, including the American Osteopathic Association House of Delegates. 

Previously, Taylor served as ATSU-KCOM Student Government Association vice president, and was an active advocate for the school budget, school social, and auction committees. During his term, Taylor was a lead coordinator for the school prom and annual auction, raising more than $8,000 for the student body. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Taylor carves out time to serve as a student ambassador and act as the organization’s social coordinator. 

“I chose to become a student ambassador because I enjoy being a spokesperson for a school I am proud to attend,” Taylor said. “I get the chance to see excitement in the potential students when I explain how amazing our facilities and curriculum are.” 

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Taylor has a bachelor’s in cellular and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry from Missouri State University.

Taylor’s main areas of interest for his career are neurosurgery or trauma surgery. 

“ATSU has an amazing curriculum, particularly in surgery, that has prepared me to shine on rotations,” he said. “ATSU also has several rotation sites that have competitive specialties we can learn more about.”

A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) student Rachel Johnston, D2, remembers how she felt during her interview day. Those nerves, and the student ambassadors who helped her get over them, are a big part of why she decided to become a student ambassador herself.

“As an interview day coordinator, one of my favorite aspects is meeting the applicants during interview day lunch and tours,” Johnston said. “Just chatting with them and hearing their stories is so special. It also allows me a chance to calm their nerves, which really helped me during my interview process.”

Johnston is from Jonesboro, Arkansas, and has a bachelor’s in biology from Arkansas State University. In addition to serving as a student ambassador, she is the social chair for ATSU-MOSDOH’s American Student Dental Association chapter, and in her free time enjoys cooking and baking, crafting, and watching rom-coms or Disney movies. 

Ultimately, Johnston would like to work as a general practitioner, seeing various patients and cases on a daily basis.

“ATSU is already helping me achieve this goal by providing so many opportunities to see patients (real and simulated) and practice treatment planning and procedures while still being guided by faculty,” Johnston said.

Margaret Wilson, DO, ’82, dean of A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), has been inducted into the Academy of Missouri Squires. 

The Academy is a nonprofit organization which honors Missourians for their accomplishments on the community, state, or national levels. Founded by former Missouri Gov. James T. Blair in 1960, the Academy of Missouri Squires is limited to 100 living members. 

“It is a great honor to be recognized alongside other Missourians who I know have been grateful to serve their communities and the state in some way,” Dr. Wilson said. “It certainly means a lot to me to be chosen to join this distinguished group.”

According to the Academy’s by-laws, individuals qualify by having achieved true greatness in their community, the state of Missouri, or the U.S. They also must legally reside in Missouri, be employed by the state, or be native-born Missourians whose current residence is outside the state due to necessity of business or other reasons. Individuals are nominated by the public and Academy members, and classes are elected by Academy membership. 

Dr. Wilson has been with ATSU-KCOM since 1985, serving as chair of Family Medicine, Preventative Medicine, and Community Health for 23 years prior to becoming dean. She is board certified in family practice and is a staff physician at Northeast Missouri Health Council, a community health center, where she was medical director for over 20 years. 

Dr. Wilson has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Kirksville Osteopathic Alumni Association (KOAA) Living Tribute Award, Missouri Primary Care Association Samuel Rodgers Achievement Award, Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, KOAA Alumnus of the Year, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons Medallion Award, and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s Robert A. Kistner Award

ATSU President Emeritus Jack Magruder, EdD, is also a member of the Academy of Missouri Squires, having been inducted in 2010. Dr. Magruder joined Dr. Wilson for her induction ceremony in Jefferson City, Missouri, in December.

Schools often boast about a feeling of family and inclusivity which develops amongst students, faculty, and staff. At A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH), student Phillip Fromm, D2, said that feeling is a reality from Day 1.

“The first day of orientation, we were told the competition was over, and they were right,” Fromm said. “Everyone, no matter what class they are in, is always willing to offer a helping hand and ensure that you succeed as a student and as a person.

“One of my favorite things about being an ATSU student is I am always treated more so as a colleague than as a student. Everyone, including faculty, is able to learn and grow together, and it really feels like a family.”

Fromm didn’t need to venture far from his home in Phoenix to find ATSU-ASDOH, but it wasn’t proximity which led him to selecting the School after completing a bachelor of science in physiology from the University of Arizona Honors College.

“I chose ATSU because of its commitment to public health and community service,” Fromm said. “As an undergraduate student I was fortunate to be able to participate in ASDOH’s Give Kids A Smile Day, in which hundreds of underprivileged children are able to receive free dental care at the School. I loved not only the philanthropic aspect of this event, but was also blown away by the inclusiveness and camaraderie of the ATSU-ASDOH students and staff. Having attended ATSU for over two years now, I can honestly say it has felt like a home since Day 1.”

Fromm is an active student, serving as an executive board member of the American Dental Education Association – Arizona Chapter, and member of the Academy of General Dentists, American Student Dental Association, National Student Dental Association, and Periodontics Club.

“The field of dentistry requires us to be lifelong learners,” Fromm said. “I joined these organizations to continue learning about our profession and network with other students and faculty to engage in conversation about current issues that affect our community, as well as how we can better serve our patients. By being active in these organizations I feel I am able to maximize my education at ATSU and set myself up for success after graduation.”

He also serves as an ATSU-ASDOH student ambassador. Fromm recalled his own application process as one of the most challenging endeavors of his life, and sought a way to actively engage with pre-dental students facing the same experiences.

“I was once in their shoes, and I find fulfillment in helping them achieve their goals and find the school that will challenge them to be the best doctor and person they can possibly be,” Fromm said.

In his free time, Fromm loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, and skiing. He’s also engaged and plans to marry “my best friend in the whole world” in March. The couple enjoys traveling and playing with their French bulldog, Tyson.

Upon graduation from ATSU-ASDOH, Fromm plans to open a private practice where he will put the ATSU mission to work, with service to his community at the forefront. 

“ATSU is helping me prepare to achieve this goal in multiple ways, including offering invaluable mentorship, promoting networking opportunities, and emphasizing my clinical education. I am confident that upon graduation, ATSU will have prepared me to compassionately and empathetically serve any patient that walks into my office to the best of my ability,” Fromm said.

Get hands-on experience in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and osteopathic principles and practice (OPP) skills, taught by expert OMM faculty from the founding college of osteopathic medicine, A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of  Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM). 

The four-day, 32-hour “Introduction to OMM for MDs and DOs” is designed for MD students/residents entering Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education osteopathic-recognized programs and for MD attendings who precept and supervise  residents in osteopathic recognition programs. 

The course also serves as a refresher for DO students, DO residents, and DO teaching faculty who want to sharpen their skills and knowledge while learning about OPP, soft tissue, counterstrain and muscle energy techniques, and segmental diagnosis for the thoracic and lumbar spine. 

The National Center for Osteopathic Principles and Practice Education (NCOPPE) provides individualized education support and serves as an online repository of OPP-related materials  available on-demand for educators across the undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education continuum. NCOPPE’s goal is to advance osteopathic education, promote integration of osteopathic principles in clinical practice, and encourage development of OPP educational materials in our profession. 

“Introduction to OMM for MDs and DOs” will be held in the Blumenthal Osteopathic Skills Lab in the Connell Information Technologies Center at ATSU’s Kirksville, Missouri, campus. The course will be conducted over four days, beginning May 22, at 8:00 a.m. and concluding May 25, at 5:00 p.m. Cost is $200 for NCOPPE members and medical students and $495 for all others. 

Register online at atsu.edu/intro-to-omm, and visit the ATSU-KCOM website at atsu.edu/visit-Kirksville for information about getting to and staying in Kirksville. 

Questions? Contact us at ncoppe@atsu.edu or 660.626.2717. 

A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) student Mariem Towakoli, OMS II, decided to become a student ambassador as a way to give back, but her service has also provided a glimpse into herself. 

“I chose to become a student ambassador because I remembered how much the student ambassadors impacted my decision to attend ATSU when I was applying,” Towakoli said. “My favorite part of being a student ambassador is getting to chat with interviewees about all the possibilities ATSU has to offer. It also reminds me just how much I’ve learned and grown as a student physician in the past year and a half, which is very humbling.” 

Towakoli is originally from Overland Park, Kansas, and attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she earned a bachelor’s of science in biology. 

Mariem Towakoli, OMS II

In addition to becoming a student ambassador, Towakoli is a member of the Emergency Medicine Club, Point of Care Ultrasound Society, Still Caring Health Connection, Oncology Student Interest Group, Hope’s Kitchen, SGA Social Committee, SGA Facilities Committee, and Clinical Simulation Club. 

In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends, visiting family, going to the gym, “rewatching New Girl for the ninth time,” and going on walks with her pup, Stella.

Stella

Tokakoli wants to become a medical oncologist and make an impact within the cancer field. Attending ATSU-KCOM in Kirksville, Missouri, has provided her with early opportunities for experience. 

“ATSU has provided me with incredible research opportunities, clinical shadowing at the George Rea Cancer Treatment Center, as well as allowing me to create the school’s first Oncology Club and establishing professional relationships with the American Society of Hematology,” Towakoli said.

A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) student Jannette Covarrubias, D2, ventured a long way from her hometown of East Wenatchee, Washington, to attend dental school in Kirksville, Missouri. 

And Covarrubias wants future dental students in the Pacific Northwest to join her.

“I chose to be a student ambassador because I wanted more students from my home state to know about ATSU-MOSDOH, and being a student ambassador provided me with resources for these prospective students,” she said.

ATSU-MOSDOH student Jannette Covarrubias, D2

Covarrubias, who has a bachelor of arts in Spanish from the University of Washington, has joined several student organizations at ATSU-MOSDOH, including the MD3D Printing Club, Student National Dental Association, and American Student Dental Association. She also plays kickball at ATSU’s Thompson Campus Center, and enjoys cooking, gardening, painting, and swimming. 

Jannette Covarrubias, D2, plays in the annual flag football game in Kirksville, Missouri.

She looks forward to the day she can serve her community and provide oral healthcare services for those in need.

“I want to be a general dentist to improve my community’s oral health, especially agricultural workers and Spanish speakers,” Covarrubias said. “ATSU is helping me achieve this by providing me with the biomedical sciences and clinical skills that will enable me to provide high quality care to my patients.”

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) Doctor of Occupational Therapy program student Alyssa Jordan, OTD, ’25, hopes to become an advocate for her field as a professional.

“I hope to have a positive impact on my community and to continue advocating for occupational therapy,” Jordan said. “My experiences so far at ATSU have taught me the wide range of opportunities there are for occupational therapists to work in the community.”

Jordan is originally from Rock Springs, Wyoming, and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor of science degree in physiology, with a minor in psychology. She chose ATSU because she valued learning the holistic approach to healthcare, as well as the University’s mission of serving underserved populations.

Jordan is an active student, serving as a member of the Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy Clinic Board, and a student ambassador. 

“I decided to be a part of these organizations to play a role in serving the community and to be more involved on campus throughout my time here. I enjoy the opportunity to share more information with the community and future students about occupational therapy and the program here at ATSU,” Jordan said. 

“I became a student ambassador to share my experiences throughout the application process as well as beginning the OTD program with prospective and future students.”

Outside of the classroom, Jordan enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and developing her cooking and baking skills. 

She also enjoys any time she gets to spend with her classmates.

“I enjoy the opportunities for hands-on learning and building meaningful relationships with my cohort,” Jordan said. “The OT/PT Clinic provides an environment to engage in the treatment process with members of the community, other students, and faculty. Learning and engaging in these opportunities alongside other members of my cohort has contributed to my positive experience here at ATSU.”

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