The Tennessee Technological University Sports Medicine
Department is an integral part of the Athletics Department. The
Sports Medicine Department is made up of five full-time Certified
Athletic Trainers and two Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainers.
This staff is responsible for the health and well-being of all 14
sports and more than 300 student-athletes.
The Head Athletic Trainer is Joe Erdeljac, MS, ATC, LAT, who is in his sixth year at Tech. Also on his staff are assistant athletic trainers Adam Graham, Randi Kaplan, Chuck Cushman and a fourth assistant to be named.
The Sports Medicine Department also has a Registered Physical Therapist on staff who works several days a week in a satellite clinic. The Physical Therapist is here for the student-athletes, the students and faculty on staff with the TTU community. This service is just like any other Physical Therapy Clinic where there is a fee for services, and most insurance is accepted.
Dr. Richard Williams is the University's Team Physician. He is assisted by several local physicians, along with a Team Optometrist and a Team Dentist.
Assisting the Athletic Training Staff:
Dr. Richard Williams
Dr. Richard Williams, M.S., M.D., serves as the Team Physician for
Tennessee Tech student-athletes. A physician at Mid-State Sports
Medicine, Dr. Williams has specialized in sports medicine
throughout his professional medical career, including experience
with high school, college, Olympic and professional athletes. He
understands sports medicine from an athlete's point of view,
participating on track and field and basketball teams during his
high school and collegiate careers. A 1975 graduate of
Crawfordsville (Indiana) High School, Dr. Williams also spent one
year as a foreign exchange student in West Germany. He graduated
Cum Laude (A.B.) from Dartmouth College, and went on to earn an
M.S. degree in Medical and Molecular Genetics from Indiana
University, and an M.D. from the Indiana University School of
Medicine. Dr. Williams worked with the Indianapolis Colts training
camp and provided volunteer medical support for high school soccer
and football teams in Indianapolis during his senior year in
medical school, and also served as a research assistant at the
Methodist Sports Medicine Center. During his residency at the
University of Cincinnati Hospitals, Dr. Williams provided coverage
for local high school and college football teams, and worked
extensively with the University of Cincinnati athletic teams. He
earned an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellowship with Kentucky
Sports Medicine in Lexington, and during the 1994-95 season was the
team physician at Eastern Kentucky University, including primary
game coverage in football and basketball, and training room
coverage for all sports. He also worked with local high schools and
the University of Kentucky sports medicine staff, and had extensive
clinic and operating room experience in all aspects of sports
medicine care. Since 1995, Dr. Williams has been in practice in the
Upper Cumberland. He has assumed primary responsibility, training
room care and game coverage and injury treatment for all of
Tennessee Tech's athletic programs along with area high
Dr. James Talmage
Dr. James Talmage, M.D., has over a decade of providing a variety of services to Tennessee Tech's more than 300 student-athletes as general practitioner and consultant to the sports medicine staff. Currently a physician at the Occupational Health Center, Dr. Talmage moved to Cookeville in 1979 and has worked closely with the Tech sports medicine staff since 1987. While working with all men and women athletes, his primary area is the women's basketball program. After graduating with a degree in Physiology from The Ohio State University in 1968, he was Summa Cum Laude in 1972 from the OSU medical school. He served a one-year internship at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, then served his residency at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. His career in practice began in 1977 at the Ireland Army Hospital at Fort Knox, Ky., before moving to Cookeville in 1979 to begin work at Upper Cumberland Orthopedic Surgery. He has since worked with Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Family Medical Center, Internal Medicine Group and Corporate Health Institute. He is Board Certified both in orthopedic surgery and in emergency medicine, and among his published works and lectures have been numerous items relating to athletic injuries and sports medicine.
Dr. Garrett C. Shepherd
Dr. Garrett C. Shepherd, O.D. is the team optometrist for student-athletes at Tennessee Tech. He provides vision screenings and eye injury care; keeping our young men and women safe and prepared to compete at the highest level. He is a native of Cookeville and graduate of TTU. Currently, Dr. Shepherd practices at Huddleston and Shepherd Family Vision Care in Cookeville and at Smith County Advanced Eye Care in Gordonsville, Tenn. where he specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases of the eye. Dr. Shepherd received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee in 2005, after completing externship training at The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry, The Branch Medical Clinic at Mid-South Naval Base in Millington, Tenn., and Dr.’s Whitley and Hughes in Covington, Tenn. Dr. Shepherd is currently serving on the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians’ Board of Trustees, and is active in the American Optometric Association and Upper Cumberland Optometric Society. Along with these duties Dr. Shepherd serves as a deacon in his church, is past-president of the Cookeville Noon Day Lion’s Club, and a member of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Clark Childress
Dr. Clark Childress serves as the team dentist for Tennessee Tech Athletics, helping insure the dental health of more than 300 Golden Eagle student-athletes each year. Born in Cookeville and raised around Tennessee Tech Athletics, he has been a lifelong fan of Golden Eagle teams. Both of his parents, Robert and Nancy Childress, were Tennessee Tech graduates, so it was a natural choice for Clark to attend his hometown university. He was a member of the Golden Eagle golf team for four seasons, graduating in 1976 with a B.S. degree in chemistry. He continued his education and earned his D.D.S. from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in 1979. In 1980, he opened his own practice in Cookeville. Married to the former Colleen Wynne, the couple has three sons (Kyle, Andrew and Jimmy), two daughters-in-law (Hollie and Katy) and one granddaughter (Aubrey Mae). Dr. Childress has practiced dentistry in Cookeville for more than 30 years, and has been associated with TTU Athletics for the entire period. He is also active in community and professional activites, including Cookeville Rotary, the Tennessee Dental Association, and the 4th District Dental Society.