10:43 AM

UST named SCAC Athletic Training Staff of the Year

In voting done among members of the respective peer councils, the University of St. Thomas-Houston was honored for the first time with the award for Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

Three exceptional staff members make up the St. Thomas athletic training department: Director of Sports Medicine Leslie Bennett and athletic trainers JeJuan French and Laurisa Rieke

“We are so honored to be recognized by our peers in the SCAC as we officially enter the Conference,” Bennett said. “It means so much for the work we do day in and out, not just for our students, but visiting teams as well! Laurisa, JeJuan and myself are truly grateful.” 

The group covered athletic training duties for all 15 NCAA men's and women's varsity sports. The staff played a major role in St. Thomas' third-place finish in the 2021-22 SCAC Presidents' Trophy standings, the best finish in school history. And that finish was highlighted by conference championships in both men's basketball and soccer. 

“We feel like our Sports Medicine staff is one of the hardest working and most caring in the country,” Athletic Director Todd Smith added. "We are thrilled their efforts have been recognized by our new SCAC colleagues,"  "I just want to take a second to say thanks to Leslie, JeJuan, Laurisa and the many student trainers who have committed so much time and effort to our teams and individual Celt student athletes."

About Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett joined UST in the fall of 2016 as the Head Athletic Trainer. In the fall of 2020, as the department continued to grow, she was promoted to Director of Sports Medicine.  In this role, she has grown our athletic training family to include two full time assistants and a handful of interns.

"Leslie, JeJuan, and Laurisa have my utmost respect. They have dealt with and handled student athletes in a way where it's professional and friendly," senior golfer Alyssa Goins said. "They have literally been one of my favorite parts about being a student athlete, and I would not be where I am today without their support, love and strength!"

About JeJuan French

JeJuan French came to St. Thomas as an assistant athletic trainer in 2019. The Ann Arbor, MI native covers SCAC Champions Men's Basketball, Track and Field, Volleyball, and Golf. In his shared role with Bennett and Rieke, he is responsible for the evaluation of injuries, overseeing treatment and rehabilitation, coordination of physician care, contributing to injury prevention and education of our student athlete population.

Women's Basketball coach Jae Cross said, "Our Sports Medicine staff have gone above and beyond the past few years. Seeing them recognized for their outstanding professionalism and leadership is very rewarding and well deserved.  Leslie, JeJuan, Laurisa and our student trainers have made a significant impact on the lives of our student athletes and our coaches. We are extremely blessed to have them as part of our team. Thank you for all you do." 

About Laurisa Rieke

Laurisa Rieke joined the St. Thomas athletic training staff as part of the department's expansion into NCAA Division III.  As part of her responsibilities, she oversees baseball, cross country and tennis. Originally from Huntingdon, Indiana, Rieke now resides in Spring, Texas, and shares duties with her staff as a clinical preceptor for the University of Houston Master's of Athletic Training Program.

​​"Our team is so very fortunate to work with Leslie, JeJuan and Laurisa," said SCAC Champion men's soccer coach Ian Clerihew. "The incredible efforts of all three over the past two Covid-19 affected seasons allowed us the opportunity to even have these seasons of competition. Simply put, our team would not be successful without the care and expertise shown every day from the top athletic training staff in the SCAC."

In addition to their duties, Leslie, JeJuan, and Laurisa are an integral part of the Celt family and we once again congratulate them on their award.