McGannon’s Work, Experience Appreciated by Hawklet Athletes, ‘He’s just that guy’

Rockhurst Athletic trainer Paul McGannon watches as the lacrosse team takes on SLUH on April 30, 2023. McGannon has been a constant at most Rockhurst athletics events since coming aboard in 2010.

Mitch Forbes, Staff Reporter

Since 2010, a healing hand has roamed the halls of Rockhurst High and the Hawklets Center. Paul McGannon, the school’s athletic trainer, is a Rockhurst icon that has helped thousands of student athletes get back in the game. According to Hawklet coaches and athletes, McGannon does far more than tape ankles. He is also a core part of the Rockhurst community who is known for his passion and kindness.

McGannon, a former Hawklet student himself, graduated in the class of 1972. During his time at Rockhurst, he was heavily influenced by his dad, the team doctor. Seeing his dad care for athletes on the sidelines of Friday night football games motivated McGannon to follow in his footsteps.

“It had a huge impact on me, because I saw what he did on a daily basis,” he said. “That’s where I got interested in the whole process.”

McGannon went on to study at Rockhurst University, where he majored in biology. In 1974, while McGannon was at Rock U, the NBA’s Cincinnati Kings moved to Kansas City. Since the Kings practiced at Rock U, McGannon was able to land a position as an assistant athletic trainer for the team. At one point, McGannon was even asked to be the head trainer for nine games after the usual trainer got sick.

After this experience, McGannon finished his undergrad and then continued his education at Central Missouri State University, where he earned a master’s degree of science in athletic training. McGannon graduated from CMSU in 1976. 

McGannon got a job with the Kansas City Royals after his graduation. He started off in the minor leagues and worked his way up to the majors in a similar fashion to players. 

During his time in the minors, McGannon started his own physical therapy business, Sports Rehab, in Kansas City.

“As a minor league trainer, you don’t make a lot of money, so you got to have offseason work,” he said. “Three of us came together and formed the company in ‘78, and I would do that in the offseason in complement with the Royals.”

During his time with the big league club, the Royals went to the World Series twice and brought the trophy home in 1985. McGannon left the team in 1988 and started focusing on his business. 

He brought his talents to Rockhurst High School in 2010. Although his previous experience with professional athletes suggests he is overqualified to work with teenagers, McGannon enjoys working with Hawklet athletes.

“The reason I like working at the high school level is because it’s where what I do is needed the most,” he said. “High school kids are a great population to work with, because they bounce back real quick, the rehabs go well, and they are highly motivated, because they want to have their high school athletic career and college athletic career, if that’s what they want to do.”

McGannon is a one-man-show at Rockhurst, as he is the schools’ only certified athletic trainer. He works year round, even attending workouts in the summer. It is not uncommon for him to arrive at Rockhurst hours before school starts to give student-athletes an extra opportunity to receive treatment. 

Despite the heavy workload, however, McGannon loves working at his alma mater.

“It kind of takes me back to my beginning and at the same time serves a population that really needs what I do,” he said. “I enjoy getting people ready for the next game, no matter the sport. It’s just fun to be a part of the progression.”

McGannon’s work is widely appreciated by members of the Hawklet community. Head football coach Kelly Donohoe is pleased with his work to get athletes back on the field.

“There can’t be a better trainer anywhere in the country than Paul McGannon. He is amazing, not just in his knowledge, but how he treats young men,” Donohoe said.

Junior running back Aidan Ryan, who often receives treatment from McGannon, is grateful for his assistance. 

“He’s just that guy,” Ryan said. “It seems like he is always here to help all of us recover from games and practices. He’s helped me a lot over the years, and that’s why we all love him here.”

McGannon says that he plans to continue working at Rockhurst as long as he is in good health.