Leon "Red" Romo is a legendary figure in the history of Naval Academy athletics.
Romo served as Navy's head athletic trainer for more than four decades, treating such renowned athletes as Joe Bellino, Roger Staubach, Napoleon McCallum and David Robinson during his tenure.
Rusty Romo was determined to keep his father's legacy alive while at the same time doing something good for the Naval Academy and promoting the profession of athletic training.
Rusty found the perfect avenue to accomplish those goals through the Red Romo Scholarship Fund, which was founded shortly after his father's death in July, 1999. This program has a multi-faceted mission that annually funds an intern trainer position supporting Navy athletics with graduate physical education majors receiving valuable experience toward qualifying for certification as professionals in a variety of related fields.
"My father knew there were not enough hands to take care of all the athletes here at the Naval Academy and he was worried that one night someone would get hurt when he wasn't there and that individual would not receive the correct care," Rusty Romo said when asked his primary motivation for funding the intern trainer scholarship.
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Rusty Romo worked closely with Jeff Fair, his father's successor as head athletic trainer at the Naval Academy, to get the program going. Jim Berry, who holds the title of associate athletic director for sports medicine at Navy, is now heavily involved with the Red Romo Scholarship Fund.
"We really appreciate the support of Rusty and the Red Romo Foundation. It's great that we are able to do this in Red's name and honor his legacy," Berry said. "One of the reasons why this scholarship is so important is because it supports the physical mission of the academy. We utilize our intern to take care of all sorts of sports at the Naval Academy."
This year's recipient of the Red Romo Scholarship is Kayla Porter, who is currently in her second year as an intern with Navy athletics. She primarily works with the football and crew teams, but often assists with other varsity sports.
Porter, a native of Grantsville, Maryland, is a 2017 graduate of Frostburg State University. As an undergraduate, Porter served as vice chairman of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the NCAA. In that role, she represented all athletes at the Division III level.
Porter is planning to further her education by enrolling in the Physician's Assistant program at Greenville University in South Carolina. She would like to eventually get involved with orthopedics in some capacity once she is certified as a physician's assistant.
"From the start of this internship until now, I can't tell you how much I've grown and learned," Porter said. "I've worked with so many incredible people here at the Naval Academy who have been so willing to teach and mentor me. It has been an absolutely amazing experience."
Berry believes Porter will join an impressive list of past Red Romo Scholarship recipients that have pursued a career in the athletic training or medical profession. Ryan Sley (Johns Hopkins), Craig Burke (Stony Brook) and Matt Ludwig are products of the program who are currently serving as athletic trainers for college football teams.
"After they leave here, they go on and further their careers as either an athletic trainer or in some other field," Berry said. "Personally, I think Kayla would make an outstanding sports medicine assistant."
Money to support the Red Romo Scholarship are raised through an annual golf tournament that is followed by a dinner and auction. For further information, visit: www.redromoscholarship.com.