Kirk Brumels, a 1988 Hope College graduate who has spent more than a decade as an athletic trainer with the New England Patriots, will be returning to the college to become Hope's head athletic trainer.

Kirk Brumels, a 1988 Hope College graduate who has spent more than a decade as an athletic trainer with the New England Patriots, will be returning to the college to become Hope's head athletic trainer.

Brumels, chosen following a national search, will start at the college in June.

He will succeed long-time head athletic trainer Dr. R. Richard Ray Jr. Ray, who has been at Hope since 1982, will remain a member of the college's kinesiology faculty and will continue serving as coordinator of the athletic training education program.

"We're all obviously very excited about Kirk's coming back to his alma mater," Ray said. "He's someone who will fit into the Hope community very well."

"He was an outstanding and very mature student, and had outstanding skills that I expect have only gotten better with the Patriots," he said. "I anticipate that he has all the skills and all the necessary experience to serve the health needs of our students in a very professional way."

The shift in Ray's responsibilities will enable him to focus on his new role as the coordinator of Hope's on-going effort to seek re-accreditation through the North Central Association, a process that will continue through the fall of 2003. As one of the three professional members of Hope's athletic training staff, Ray will also continue to serve in the athletic training room, although on a more limited basis than currently.

Brumels has been with the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., since 1990. His responsibilities have included supervising, educating and coordinating student athletic trainers during summer training camp and various internship positions throughout the football season. He has also worked with the team physician and head athletic trainer to coordinate all aspects of medical services for the team and its staff.

As a graduate of Hope's athletic training program, Brumels is a former student of Ray's. He worked with the college's basketball, baseball, field hockey and football teams as well as in the athletic training room during his time at Hope. His student experiences included an internship with the Patriots during the summer before his senior year.

Ray and Brumels share an additional connection through the Patriots' head athletic trainer, Ron O'Neil.When Ray was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, he served as a student intern with the Philadelphia Eagles while O'Neil was an assistant athletic trainer with the franchise.

Brumels was a second-generation Hope student. His father Bruce, who is currently president of Hope's Alumni Association Board of Directors, is a 1959 graduate, and his mother Doris is a 1962 graduate.

After graduating from Hope, he completed a master's in athletic training at Western Michigan University. While in the master's program he was also the staff athletic trainer at St. Mary's SportsMed Center in Grand Rapids.

Brumels is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, licensed as an athletic trainer by the State of Massachusetts, and a member of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. His awards include recognition with O'Neil as the 1997 National Football League Athletic Training Staff of the Year. He has been a guest speaker or lecturer in numerous venues, including at Western Michigan University and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and at the 2000 Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association Annual Symposium. Since 1999, he has also been a consultant with

Brumels and his wife Stephanie have two young children.

Athletic training is one of three majors offered through the college's department of kinesiology. The program became accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) in April of 1998, and Hope is the only private liberal arts college in the state of Michigan to hold such accreditation. Beginning in 2004, only graduates of CAAHEP-accredited programs will be eligible for certification by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).

The major consists of 48 credit hours in a variety of disciplines, out of the 126 hours all Hope students must complete to graduate. The athletic training students must also complete at least 1,500 hours of clinical work under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer.Approximately 20 students are enrolled in the program each year.