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A friend to all, Terry Slattery announces retirement from Kent Roosevelt


Terry Slattery spent 27 years making a profound impact at Kent Roosevelt and within the Kent community as someone with a unique and genuine ability to build a relationship with anyone at any time.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor

Kent Roosevelt won’t ever quite be the same.

As soon as Terry Slattery announced his retirement, that was always going to be the case.

There are other tremendous educators at Roosevelt, but Slattery was one of a kind.

His engaging personality immediately makes a student feel welcome.

He has an elite ability to almost instantly create a bridge toward a friendship.

All while showing an infectious enthusiasm, appreciation and professionalism for his job and its role in taking care of the same student-athletes that he has inspired to pursue life-changing careers as proud graduates.

This is what it has been like for the last 27 years for Slattery as a teacher and athletic trainer.

And that is why the hallways, classrooms, fields and courts and Roosevelt have a noticeable absence without him.


Slattery grew up in Hicksville, Ohio, which is located in Defiance County in Northwest Ohio.

The 2020 census lists the population as 3,431 and the village sits just 2 miles east of the Indiana state line.

What Hicksville lacks in size, it makes up for, and then some, with the kind of charm that places a high priority on the value of relationships and community.

Slattery is the oldest of five, with a younger brother Tony and three younger sisters, Beth, Jenny and Katy.

His mother, Mary, was a nurse. His father, Linus, was a repair lineman for the General Telephone company.

Young Terry found the joy of being a kid doing kid things in a small town.

Playing until sundown with friends, riding his bike around town, seeing people that knew him, seeing people that he knew and watching his parents do the same.

There was always time for a small conversation or interaction.

Those daily affirmations helped Slattery learn how to build relationships, why they were important and how they could impact the strength of a community.

“I have carried that with me my whole life and it is something that I really found here in Kent,” Slattery said.

“I was blessed to have a good, all-around, wholesome, rural upbringing,” said Slattery, who played golf, basketball and baseball in high school. “Everyone knew everyone and it was great. IF you did something good or if you did something bad, you knew it was going to make it back to your parents somehow.”


Slattery graduated high school in 1983 and enrolled at Bowling Green State University.

He eventually majored in health education and minored in athletic training.

But it didn’t start that way.

With his mother’s background as a nurse, Slattery knew that he was interested in a career in the health-care field, but arrived on campus undecided on what he was going to pursue.

His randomly assigned roommate was a football player and the two shared a class together in a large lecture hall during their first semester. After the class was over, the two began to walk back to the dorm, but first, his roommate needed to stop by the training room to have his hamstring checked.

“I had no idea what a training room even was,” Slattery said. “My roommate asked me if I would stop with him, and I said, ‘Sure’.”

Slattery was about to find his passion.

“The training room was in Anderson Arena and when we walked in, I saw a room filled with athletes and people taking care of them,” Slattery said. “I decided to just stand off to the side until my roommate was done.”

Slattery was just trying to stay out of the way.

Bill Jones was ready to start a conversation.

Jones, who was the head athletic trainer at Bowling Green, asked Slattery, “Hey, who are you?”

“My name is Terry. I am here with Craig,” Slattery responded.

“Where are you from?” Jones asked.

“Hicksville,” Slattery said.

And that was the conversation starter.

By the time the two were done talking that morning, Jones had Slattery intrigued on what it was like to be an athletic trainer.

“He gave me his business card, told me to think about it and said that if I wanted to know more, I should give him a call,” Slattery said. “I usually called home once a week, and I told my mom about everything. She said that the worst I could do was to find out more about it, then do something else if I didn’t like it.”

Slattery reached back out to Jones, was instantly hooked about the idea of becoming an athletic trainer and jumped right into a two-week rotation through every sport at Bowling Green.

His momentum and excitement only stopped when he announced his retirement at the end of the 2023-24 school year — nearly 40 years later.

Jones is now in his 80s — and he would have a further impact on Slattery’s ascension in the field — and still works as an injury and concussion spotter for the Falcons. He was inducted into the Bowling Green Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 and his friendship with Slattery remains, with the two meeting for lunch whenever Jones visits Kent.


Shortly after Slattery graduated from Bowling Green in 1987, he began his career at West Toledo Physical Therapy.

“That was a long two months,” he said. “I found out that I was not built for a 9 to 5, working with hip replacements and non-athletic people.”

Jones also knew Slattery was not happy and alerted him of an opening at Central Michigan as a graduate assistant.

“Bill called me, told me about it and said that after we hang up, I was going to call about it. So I called about it,” Slattery said. “I learned about the opening on a Thursday, interviewed on a Friday and I was offered the position and was told to be there by Monday.”

At Central, Slattery roomed with Dan Majerle, who was preparing to leave for the 1988 Olympics in South Korea.

Slattery spent two years at Central Michigan before being hired as the head athletic trainer at Division III Heidelberg University in 1990. 

“It was my first real job, but I quickly realized that I missed Division I,” Slattery said.

Once again, Jones knew it.

Once again, one year later, Jones had an opportunity for his former student.

This time, Kent State was searching for an assistant trainer to work alongside John Faulstick.

“I talked to John about the job on the phone just as he was getting ready to leave for a vacation to Indiana, so we set up for me to meet him at a McDonald’s in Tiffin,” Slattery said. “Then he said he would meet me at the same McDonald’s again next week on his way back.”

Slattery was soon a Golden Flash, and he worked as the primary trainer for Kent State’s football and basketball programs for the next six seasons (1991-97).

He fell in love with the city and began to make friends with community members.

One of them being Ernie Rutzky, who was working as the athletic trainer at Roosevelt in 1997 when he called Slattery to find someone to fill his newly approved part-time trainer position at the school.


“I was looking for someone that may have been a recent graduate who was looking to get into the profession,” Rutzky said. “I knew Terry knew a lot of people that could be a good fit for us.”

Terry Slattery (left) stands with Kent Roosevelt athletic director Ben Dunlap following the end of the last game Slattery was on site for as an athletic trainer back in May.
Special to Portage Sports

It turned out that the good fit became Slattery.

“My wife and I just had our first child, my wife was working as a school administrator and after we figured out the cost of child care for us both to work full time, the 20-hour-per-week job, working basically second shift, that Roosevelt, made more sense.”

Slattery applied, and he was hired as a teacher and athletic trainer.

In 2002, Rutzky was named the athletic director at Roosevelt and Slattery was promoted to head athletic trainer.

A job he loved, but also a job that required commitment and sacrifice. It was common for Slattery’s day to begin at 7 a.m., when he would begin teaching the first of his six classes for the day. He would treat and rehab student-athletes on his lunch break, then again after school to get them ready for that evening’s games or practices. Field set up began at 5:30 p.m., game times at 7 p.m., postgame clean up and home by about 10:30 p.m.

“In my 40 years as a trainer, I am pretty confident that there were less than 10 weekends in the fall that I was not on a football sideline working a game,” Slattery said.

He says it as a point of fact and not a complaint.

In fact, Rutzky witnessed, first hand, for many years the enjoyment Slattery had for his job and the joy he had interacting with the students and community members.

“Terry is someone that you want to have as your next-door neighbor,” Rutzky said. “He is just a great guy, and he is so interesting to talk to. He becomes interested in you, your family and everything that is happening in your life. One of his greatest attributes is his way to communicate and develop relationships — and be genuine and sincere in it.

“He brought an authority to the job, but not in a bossy way,” Rutzky added. “He knew what was best and communicated that in a positive way to the athletes, their families and the coaches. Always keeping the best interest of the student-athlete as the most important piece.”

Rutzky and Slattery also worked together to create a career technical program designed around athletic training, care, fitness and exercise science. It was the first of its kind in Ohio. The popularity of the class skyrocketed in small part because it was something new and exciting, but in large part because of Slattery’s teaching styles and status in the district.

The class has been a direct influence on countless students that Rutzky described as students who “found what they wanted to do with their lives.”

“That is one of Terry’s lasting legacies,” Rutzky said. “There are four Roosevelt alums who are Kent firefighters and paramedics. And there are many, many more all around us in a variety of professions that were jumpstarted through the technical program class. Terry’s impact is lifelong and ongoing, which is really something special.”

Just like all of the relationships Slattery has created with his thousands of students and athletes.

And just like his impact on the Kent school district and community.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Condit July 6, 2024

    Met Terry in Napoleon, Ohio where he did his student teaching at the middle school. He was awesome back then and we reconnected when I moved to Kent. Watching him interact with the student/athletes was amazing. Very personable and always positive. Great to call him a friend.


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