Dr. John Lehtinen continues to serve as key piece behind the scenes of NMU sports

Editor’s Note:The following is the second of four profiles on the NMU Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2014 provided by the NMU Athletic Department.

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University team physician Dr. John Lehtinen will be inducted into the NMU Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center in conjuction with the NMU Student-Athlete Awards Banquet that begins at 6 p.m.

Lehtinen has served as the team physician for NMU athletics for over 32 years and has been a physician for the NMU Olympic Training Site, formerly known as the United States Olympic Education Center. He has also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the NMU hockey program since 2006.

Lehtinen began his association with NMU in 1980 and became the team physician for NMU athletics during the 1981-82 academic year.

“Words cannot express all the thanks to Dr. Lehtinen for his contributions both as a physician and volunteer coach over so many years,” said retired NMU Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Reed. “Doc has provided an invaluable service to NMU student-athletes and their programs for the last 32 years. He also has provided services to Marquette junior hockey, Marquette baseball and softball and other sports organizations both as a physician and a coach. He has always been available whenever the need was there no matter the time.”

Lehtinen was invited to be a physician for the 1989 Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City, and also worked as a physician for the 1990 Olympic Festival in Minneapolis. He also worked the Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, in 1991 and served as a team physician at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

In 1996, Lehtinen was named the head physician for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta and served as a team physician for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He has also served on the Sports Medicine Committee for the United States Olympic Committee, helping with the Pan American games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and the World Youth Games in Moscow, Russia.

“I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Lehtinen for nearly 25 years, as he served and continues to serve as the NMU team physician,” said NMU Athletic Training Coordinator and Faculty Athletics Representative Julie Rochester. “Dr. Lehtinen’s expertise as a sports medicine physician has allowed NMU to provide outstanding medical services to our student-athletes for over 30 years. In addition, the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Lehtinen with NMU athletics, has afforded countless educational experiences to NMU’s athletic trainers and athletic training students.”

When asked about what Lehtinen meant to the NMU hockey program and NMU Intercollegiate Athletics, hockey coach Walt Kyle spoke very highly of his involvement and dedication to the Wildcats.

“Doc, as we know him, has been an integral part of Northern athletics for as long as I can remember,” Kyle said. “Anyone who has been associated with any athletic event has seen him quietly strolling the sidelines or standing behind the bench with almost any sport. What they don’t see is what he does behind the scenes that makes him truly invaluable.”

Lehtinen is a native of Hancock and graduated of Michigan Tech University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree and 1970 with a master’s in biological sciences. He went on to attend Wayne State University School of Medicine where he earned his Doctor of Medicine in 1984.

Lehtinen and his wife Linda have two sons, Rob and John, who are both Northern Michigan alumni.

“I find it challenging to take care of people who have passion and motivation for what they do,” Lehtinen said. “Working with kids who want to get better and want to do the best they can makes me want to play whatever role I can to assist them. Keeping them on the floor, field or on the ice is enjoyable.”