In the early 1970s, a young John J. Kasik ’75 served as manager of Loyola Blakefield’s football and lacrosse teams under the tutelage of longtime teacher and coach Bill Korrow. The invaluable experience coupled with early exposure to the medical field thanks to his father, Parkville-area family physician and fellow Loyola alumnus Frank T. Kasik Jr. ’36, would ultimately ignite Kasik’s interest in pursuing a career in athletic training and sports medicine.
“I was able to spend a lot of time with Bill. He allowed me to learn from him the basic role of the athletic trainer,” recalled Kasik, who attended Saint Ursula School on Harford Road prior to enrolling at Loyola as a freshman in 1971.
Kasik also spent a lot of time with his other coaches, former Director of College Counseling Joe Brune ’52 and Special Assistant for External Affairs and former Dean of Students John Stewart ’60, who will succeed President and Head of School Anthony Day, P ’15, ’19, as Interim President for the 2023–24 school year.
“These men taught me so much and trusted me with many duties. They put a lot of faith in me. For four years, they helped mold and model the future for me. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it,” said Kasik, who graduated with the Rev. Aloysius P. McGonigal, S.J., Award, presented by the Loyola Fathers’ Club to a senior who has worked to full capacity in and out of the classroom, but has received little recognition for his tenacious spirit.
After Loyola, Kasik went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, with a concentration in social studies, at West Virginia University, where he gained acceptance into the athletic training program. While still in college, with no formal certification or professional experience under his belt, Kasik’s hard work and determination would help land him the role of Assistant Athletic Trainer for the National Football League’s Baltimore Colts, now known as the Indianapolis Colts, alongside Head Athletic Trainer John Lopez.
1981: John Kasik and Baltimore Colt Bert Jones.
Then came a personal invitation from University of Miami Head Athletic Trainer Mike O’Shea, formerly with the Baltimore Colts, to work as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer while completing a master’s degree in physical education, with a concentration in athletic training. Upon graduating from the University of Miami, Kasik would reprise his role with the Baltimore Colts for two more seasons before moving on to two more NFL teams—the Seattle Seahawks (Assistant Athletic Trainer, 1983–94) and the Carolina Panthers (Head Athletic Trainer, 1994–2002).
A member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and a former member of the NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year during his time with the Seattle Seahawks, Kasik’s previous experience also includes stints as Orthotic Consultant to the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NCAA as well as Athletic Training Director and Set Medic for NBC’s competition reality television series The Biggest Loser, hosted by actress and comedienne Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and featuring celebrity fitness trainer and best-selling author Bob Harper. Most recently, he served as Head Athletic Trainer at Stanford University.
Kasik at the table at the 2022 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
Currently, Kasik is busy enjoying his 16th consecutive year as Senior Associate Athletics Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer at the University of South Carolina, where he coordinates all phases of health care for student-athletes—including health physicals, treatment, training, injury reporting and tracking, and rehabilitation—and oversees a staff of 14 full-time Certified Athletic Trainers and 10 Certified Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainers.
Although working at the collegiate level is very different from working at the professional level, Kasik noted, “Watching student-athletes come in as basically high school students and grow and mature is very special.”
Each and every day, both at work and at home, Kasik continues to apply life lessons learned at Loyola—from respecting others and doing things for others without expecting anything in return, to doing the right thing even when no one’s watching and being accountable. “We weren’t officially Men for Others back then,” he explained, “but we were doing that anyway.”
Kasik’s advice to all current Loyola students, whether or not they may be interested in a career in college or professional sports, is to plan on putting in a lot of time, listen, ask questions, and be willing to learn as much as you can. “Most importantly, if you enjoy what you do, you’ll love going to work every day.”
Even after 44 years in the industry, it is abundantly clear that Kasik loves every minute of it.
This article was published in our most recent issue of Blakefield Magazine. Read the publication here.