BYU athletics: Longtime Cougar trainer dies at 78

Published: Friday, April 30 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

PROVO, Utah — No one in BYU athletics history repaired more bumps, bruises, sprains, breaks or pulls than Marv Roberson. And some say no one has ever done it better.

On Sunday, the legendary figure died from complications of a monthlong battle with bacterial infection. He was 78.

"He was just a wonderful man and a wonderful trainer, and we're surely going to miss him," BYU track coach Mark Robison said.

Football trainer Kevin Morris is one of many at BYU mourning Roberson's death. "It was a sad day when we learned that we lost one of the true good guys."

Roberson began at BYU as a track athlete in the late 1950s. Two decades later he returned to the university as the athletic department's sole trainer — handling the duties for all sports. Now each sport has its own trainer.

"What we're going to miss most is his vast wealth of knowledge," Robison said. "He was just incredible in diagnosis. If a kid had a problem, Marv could find out what it was and then fix it."

He officially retired from BYU in 1989 after 23 years to open a private physical therapy practice, but he continued to diagnose and treat Cougar athletes as recently as last month. Roberson even treated some of his longtime clients and friends at his Provo home.

"He was just old school, and that's what people liked. He was the best I've ever been around," Robison said.

Roberson came from the last generation of trainers who did most of their work hands on, without instruments, machines and gadgets. He nursed athletes back to health with his hands, arms and elbows. Athletes at BYU called him "Magic Fingers Marv" and "Marvelous Marv."

"We all laugh when we hear those stories about when Marv leaned on someone's quad or hamstring with his elbows and about how bad that hurt. But everyone then says that even though it hurt, they all got better," Morris said.

Robison's track athletes relied on Roberson's skills often. "He did get the pain out, but sometimes it was painful doing it."

Beyond his ties at BYU, Roberson was also a well-known figure in athletic training and physical therapy around the world. He traveled often to the Scandinavian countries to put on clinics and teach techniques, which were used for decades on many of the world's top Olympic athletes.

"He was very well respected not only nationally, but internationally as well," Morris said.
Roberson is survived by his wife, Doris, and their three children — Echo, Dina and Conrad. Services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the Grandview South Stake Center at 1122 N. Grand Ave.

E-mail: jimr@desnews.com

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