Longtime Troy team doctor remembered by peers as ‘gentleman’

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Though he was based in Alabama for most of his career, Dr. James Whiteside’s knowledge and expertise in the field of sports medicine helped athletes worldwide.

Whiteside passed away January 12 at age 86 in Pensacola, Fla.

Whiteside served as team doctor for the athletic programs at Troy and Samford, while serving as Physician Emeritus at the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center and later at Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center.

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During his time at Troy, Whiteside oversaw the athletic training staff and worked to keep the athletes on the field and help them recuperate when injured. Whiteisde worked alongside current Troy Athletics head trainer Chuck Ash.

Ash remembers Whiteside as a “true gentleman” and one of the smartest men he ever worked with.

“He was the wisest man I have ever known and not just in medical terms,” said Ash. “He rarely had to look anything up because he had more than likely seen it, experienced it or been the original author on the subject.”

Prior to coming to Troy, Whiteside served as the senior medical team physician at The Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, Whiteside dedicated year-round focus to the care of student athletes, and became one of the first full-time university team doctors in the country.

Tim Bream, the current head athletic trainer for football at Penn State, was a student assistant under Whiteside, and said he owes a lot to him.

“Dr. Whiteside was a great teacher and a great mentor for me,” said Bream. “He didn’t just teach you about sports medicine and athletic training. He taught us about life, and I still use things he told me to this day.”

Whiteside was a member of numerous medical and athletic training associations across the nation including the National Athletic Trainers Association, American Medical Association, American Association of Sports Medicine and American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine.

The Southeast Athletic Trainers Association named Whiteside as Sports Medicine Person of the Year in 2003.

Ash said one of the biggest memoires he had of Whiteside occurred at a practice. When trying to diagnose an injury, Whiteside informed Ash that he needed to look something up. Whiteside returned shortly, with complete information.

“I asked him where he looked it up at, and he told me ‘Just in a book I wrote’,” said Ash with a laugh. “He truly did write the book on being a team doctor.”

Whiteside penned the chapter “Team Physician” that was featured in the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine in 2010.

Outside of the athletic training world, Whiteside was a fixture in the Troy community for decades. He served as Elder, Sunday school teacher and choir member at several Presbyterian churches across the area.

Former Troy mayor, Jimmy Lunsford, remembers Whiteside as a “distinguished gentleman.”

“He helped me out with my rotator cuff a few years back,” said Lunsford. “I knew him around the community for years, and can say he was just a prince of a fellow.”

Funeral services will be held Thursday Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Dillard Funeral Home in Troy.