Former APSU athletic trainer Chuck Kimmel likes to compare Dr. Cooper Beazley to George Bailey, the selfless central figure of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," and the Austin Peay training room, to Bedford Falls, the fictional home of Bailey.
Kimmel wonders what APSU athletics medical care, what the APSU athletic training room would be like today if not for the longtime orthopedic surgeon.
Beazley came along as Dr. Richard Young was winding down his association with APSU athletics. Since meeting Kimmel and becoming part of Austin Peay athletics in 1986, Beazley literally has been on-call to the athletic training room and APSU athletes on a 24-7 basis-making Governors/Lady Govs health care a priority. Yearly physicals, nights, weekends, Tuesday morning visits to offer weekly medical evaluations, Dr. Beazley has been available...he has not accepted any remuneration for his medical service, instead donating those dollars back to the University.
His love of APSU athletics has deepened over the years because of his relationship with the athletics training room, first with Kimmel and then his successor, Joni Johnson as well as the rest of the training room staff. It also was heightened by his respect for the integrity in which APSU athletics director and basketball coach Dave Loos has run his respective program and the athletics department.
Beazley will be one of three inductees, Saturday morning, to the APSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Beazley will join Governors baseball coach Gary McClure and former 1930s basketball star Andrew Lorentzson as APSU the 101st, 102nd and 103rd inductees in a 9 a.m., breakfast ceremony in the Dunn Center front lobby.
Back in 1987, APSU became one of the first athletic training rooms in the country to convert to electronic records, long before they became critical in patient care. And that occurred as a result of monies donated for computers by Dr. Beazley.
Beazley was responsible for reconstruction of the training room, rehab areas plus donating countless dollars for rehabilitation equipment and modalities in the training room-if Dr. Beazley believes the training room has a need he and the Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance have made sure APSU athletics have that equipment available in the training room. For instance, he purchased The Shuttle-a strength machine that is band-resistance based. He also purchased the X5-a electrostatic machine that helps with the reduction of scar tissue and swelling. He also donated the Med-Bed Gator used at outdoor APSU athletic events.
Beazley attends all APSU football games and when he travels on the road it is done in a vehicle that is equipped to carefully transport potentially injured athletes.
The Nashville native provided money to support the addition of a third graduate assistant position, interns and student assistants in the training room. He has encouraged all the athletic training personnel to attain their required CEUs by attending state, district and national meetings, providing funding to assure their ability to do so.
Beazley has even sponsored the jersey retirement posters for Bubba Wells, Trenton Hassell, Brooke Armistead, Trenton Hassell and James "Fly" Williams.
In fact, it was Beazley's treatment of Wells' leg stress fractures that thrust him into the unwanted national spotlight. After coming back from surgery during early 1997, Wells embarked on a scoring streak that saw him put up spectacular scoring numbers nightly and a scoring average that hovered above the 30-point mark.
USA Today first featured Wells after he scored 39 points in 28 minutes in his first game back from surgery. The story then became as much about the then-radical tibial nail surgery as it was about Wells.
Beazley had utilized the procedure-literally hammering a nail into the lower leg--after Wells injured his right leg in the 1995 OVC championship game. It took 5½ months for Wells to recuperate.
When Wells suffered a similar injury to his left leg in mid-November 1996, it was feared he would miss the season's remainder. However, with his knowledge of the pitfalls in the recuperation period, Beazley insisted Wells' recovery period would be much shorter the second time around...he was correct.
The story of the "Real Rod Man" was born, thanks to Beazley's surgery and trainer Joni Johnson's relentless work with Wells in the rehab process. In addition, to USA Today, Beazley was featured in more than one piece, including a seven-minute NBC Today Show segment along with a front-page Los Angeles Times story.
It was one of the few times Beazley has allowed himself to be the center of attention. He prefers his work to be in the background while serving as an ambassador for the University as a whole. It has never been about the fanfare, the accolades or even the occasional pat on the back. It always has been about providing APSU student-athletes the best quality medical care.
He would not even think about talking about the sacrifices he humbly has made. Although he has never attempted one shot or taken one snap, it would be difficult to argue the notion Dr. Beazley has been Austin Peay's MVP over the past 25 years
Still, it would be difficult to quantify Beazley's contributions to APSU athletics, but to understand the pride he holds for Governors/Lady Govs, take a stroll around the examination rooms and therapy areas at TOA....countless 20 x 26 photos of former APSU athletes adorn the walls. Nothing could sum up better his relationship with Austin Peay athletics.