From Injury Prevention and Care to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame: Meet Darryl Conway 

March 26, 2024


By Dayne Hopkins

“It started back in 8th grade when I attended a football camp at Bowie State University where I walked past an athletic training room and noticed someone wrapping an ankle at what seemed like warp speed.” These were the words of a young Darryl Conway as he had just gotten a glimpse into his future. 

Conway Grew up in Beltsville, Maryland just outside of Washington D.C. with his mother and father who were both elementary school teachers. His mother taught first grade through third grade and his father was a physical education teacher and coach – both taught for over 35 years before retiring.

Conway attended the University of Delaware and graduated in 1993 before moving to complete his graduate studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY later in 1995. During his time as a student, he had the opportunity to work with the New York Jets for three summers as an athletic training student which eventually led to a full-time position out of college as an assistant athletic trainer.

Following his position with the Jets, he went back and worked for several Division 1 universities, serving in various positions, including Head Athletic Trainer / Director of Sports Medicine at Morgan State University, the University of Northern Iowa, & the University of Central Florida.  Conway ended up at the University of Maryland in 2004 where he spent 9 years as the Assistant Athletic Director- Sports Medicine before ultimately making the move to the University of Michigan. 

Conway has been with U-M for the past eleven years and currently serves as the Executive Senior Associate AD and Chief Health & Welfare Officer. He resides here with his wife, Dr. Sheena Long, DPT, PT, AT, ATC, who is also an athletic trainer and Director of Physical Therapy Clinical Education at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, and his daughter. Conway, also a dog person, shares his home with four rottweilers: Apollo, Titan, Loui, and Chase, all of whom he mentions have gentle and well-behaved personalities and whom he refers to as “his boys”. 

Darryl knew he wanted to be an athletic trainer from a young age and was fueled early on by many different mentors who helped paint the picture of what athletic training was and offered him advice along the way. One notable mentor he shared as having a significant role in his success is Mark Wagner, an athletic trainer and friend of over 35 years. Wagner first hired Conway back in his junior year of high school during a summer camp and they’ve stayed connected ever since. 

He mentioned that having mentors and building relationships along the way is important so that you never stop learning and have others to ask for advice from time to time. He mentioned that some of his favorite memories throughout his career have been building relationships with athletes and helping them get from low points in their careers back up to high-performing and happy with where they are. He places a high value on good communication and notes its importance for athletic trainers as a stand-out trait when it comes to being great at what you do.

“People want to know that you care about them in order for them to trust you to treat them,” said Conway. “There are many great clinicians out there, but not every great clinician is a great communicator.”

More recently, Conway was inducted into the 2024 National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame. An award that has only been given to 411 athletic trainers in the history of the NATA. It’s reserved for those who exemplify the very best in the profession and to recognize the significant accomplishments of athletic trainers who have helped push the profession forward. 

“It’s still kind of surreal that individuals within the profession consider me at that level,” said Conway. “I’m honored and humbled to receive the recognition.”

With March being National Athletic Training Month, this award comes at a time when building awareness for the profession is top-of-mind and so Conway wants people to know why it’s important to have an athletic trainer and how they can help student athletes. He wants parents to know that there are highly trained individuals who are able to take care of their kids when the situation calls for it.

Outside of athletic training and his current career, Conway is a chef in the kitchen and enjoys making dishes such as macaroni and cheese and smoking various types of meat like brisket and pulled pork – making note that he still needs to work on his ribs. When asked if he had other careers in mind at any point, he mentioned that he could’ve seen himself also going to culinary school and being happy with that path.

Beyond a very successful career and a love for the kitchen, Conway wants future students considering the field of athletic training to make sure they try a lot of different things because you can always learn something new. He also encourages students to make it a point to have fun in their career journey as that is a key to success and a happy life.