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Impact Magazine

Celebrating Women in Science: Earlene Durrant

Graphic image on a blue background of a light-skinned woman with short gray hair, wearing a red and white polo shirt. In a circle behind her head is a set of lockers and a bench. A banner of text in front of her reads Earlene Durrant.
Photo by Emily Tribe

Earlene Durrant was hired as BYU’s first female athletic trainer in 1972. With little to no funding for the women’s athletic training program 50 years ago, Durrant worked from a small corner in the women’s locker room and even took leftover tape from the men’s training room trash in order to care for female athletes. These obstacles didn’t deter Durrant; she was passionate about advocating for female athletes because “women need to be just as conditioned as men to prevent injuries.”

Designing a suitable women’s training program was necessary to protect and respect female athletes, and Durrant was up to the challenge. In order to continue training athletes and to develop the undergraduate athletic training program, Durrant had to be certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). After spending 2,000 practicum hours in the training room to qualify for NATA’s national exam, Durrant passed and became one of the first women certified by NATA. Enduring every curveball thrown her way was starting to pay off.

At BYU, Durrant focused on developing a strong curriculum and improving conditions for future female athletic trainers. Durrant taught over thirty courses and was inducted into NATA’s Hall of Fame in 1999, followed by BYU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. Additionally, she has served in leadership capacities for more than seven professional organizations, including the 2002 Olympic Organizing Committee.

Earlene Durrant led the way for many women in exercise science, but her developments moved BYU forward too. As she ensured equal opportunities for female athletes and athletic trainers, Durrant leveled the gender imbalance in the physical education field and for women pursuing STEM careers everywhere. Durrant worked with scraps so that future women in science wouldn’t have to.

Pursuing her early dream to teach physical education, Durrant graduated with her bachelor’s in 1962 from the nation’s top-ranked physical education program at the time—Brigham Young University. She then earned her master’s from BYU in 1963 and moved to Laie, Hawaii, to serve as the chair of the women’s physical education department at BYU Hawaii. Durrant later culminated her education with a doctorate from BYU.