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Marty Morse

Alumni Spotlight—Marty Morse

Alumni of the College of Applied Health Sciences have myriad career options thanks to the tremendous diversity of programs. We periodically will put the spotlight on an alum to find out what they're doing now, what experiences they had and what AHS means to them. This week, we talk to Marty Morse, who got his kinesiology degree in 1984 and master's in exercise physiology in 1987 at Illinois, and who was the university's first wheelchair track coach in 1984.

Q: Why did you pick AHS?

A: In 1980, my coach told me that the Department of Kinesiology at Illinois was the finest in the world. Also in 1980, the Director of Boston University’s Spinal Cord Injury Center, Dr. Murray Freed, recommended that I pursue my wheelchair athletics dreams at the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). I visited in 1980 with both kinesiology and DRES faculty. I fell immediately in love with the campus.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: In kinesiology, it was Dr. Helga Deutsch and Dr. Richard Boileau. At DRES, it was Dr. Bradley Hedrick and Dr. Stephen Figoni. In kinesiology, I was surrounded by professors who knew of my goals and they became involved in making sure I reached or surpassed my academic dreams. At DRES, Doctor Hedrick and Figoni set the bar high for me in athletics and academics. Each day was crammed full with learning at the feet of these two giants in the field of athletics and academics.

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: Everything I was required to take in kinesiology I enjoyed. The same can be said for DRES. Hedrick and Figoni kept the learning challenging, but fun.

Q: Did you enter AHS knowing your career path, or did AHS help you decide?

A: I had no idea where I was going when I entered AHS other than the fact I would be coaching. Dr. Hedrick made sure I received a graduate assistantship at DRES. That alone set my career path in coaching at DRES.

Q: Did your AHS experience lead to your current job?

A: Yes. I was (the first) wheelchair track and field coach at DRES from 1984-2005.

Q:What is your current job?

A: I retired from full-time coaching in 2009.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience?

A: Day-to-day contact coaching Illinois student-athletes. There is a vibe being around Illinois student-athletes that can’t be found anywhere else. I thrived in that environment. Each day I was surrounded by the best and the brightest wheelchair athletes that come to the Urbana-Champaign campus to realize their academic and athletic dreams.

Q: What would you say to recommend AHS to a prospective student?

A: Kinesiology and DRES remain where I found them in 1981, the best. If you want to help people live an active, vigorous, healthy lifestyles, the College of AHS is the place to be. You will be challenged outside your current comfort level to achieve your dreams.

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