MISSOULA — The KPAX Athlete of the Week spends his time out of the spotlight, making sure University of Montana athletes are performing at their best. But JC Weida just received some well-earned recognition.
Montana’s head athletic trainer is now the head of a new class. Weida is one of only 10 people ever inducted into the Montana Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, and he enters with plenty of time to continue adding to his resume.
“To think that there aren’t very many to begin with, and now you are one,” said Weida about his surprise to receive the honor. “And then the last thing my dad said, ‘Are you retiring?’ Because usually you don’t get inducted into Hall of Fames until after the fact.”
Weida has worked with the Grizzlies since his college days in the early 1990s. Overseeing a department that cares for a few hundred student-athletes keeps him plenty busy.
But he didn’t earn the honor only for his day job. Weida travels far and wide to provide instruction and workshops to help other trainers, and he has played a big part in policy and legislation in the state, including his crucial help with the Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act, which provides guidelines on how to deal with concussions.
“I’m trying to promote a profession that is growing and does maybe have a way to help, whether it’s a high school or college or youth program,” he said. “So that, in some respects, I feel is part of the job. But I also feel like it’s fun.”
Montana athletic training started in 1935. Yet Weida is only the third head trainer at UM. Naseby Rhinehart started the program and ran it for 47 years. Dennis Murphy followed with 30 years at the helm. Weida takes great pride in continuing the Grizzly tradition, and now he joins his two predecessors in the Hall of Fame.
“When you are representing the University of Montana and athletic training, there’s a little bit different lineage than some places,” said Weida. “Then that shows that somebody else thinks that you’re doing a pretty good job of maybe holding that up, as well. And so that just adds to the honor.”
Weida got into athletic training to provide health care but also for the relationships he develops on the job. Fans often only notice him at an athlete’s worst time during an injury. But he takes great joy helping them return to the playing field.