Ireland Honored, Campaign Announced

By Ryan Clark and Loralyn Cecil
CHS Contributors

It was a ceremony fit for a Hall of Famer.

And that’s appropriate, because it’s exactly what Dr. Mary Lloyd Ireland is.

About 30 distinguished guests joined other college leaders Thursday night at the Sports Medicine Research Institute on the University of Kentucky campus to honor Ireland, the longtime orthopedic surgeon and professor in the department of orthopedics and sports medicine at UK.

Over the summer, Ireland was inducted into the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Hall of Fame.

“I am deeply honored to join these giants in the Hall of Fame who lifted me on their shoulders to see possibilities,” Ireland said after receiving the recognition. “I thank everyone for the chance and opportunity to thrive as a sports medicine physician — and excel.” 

There was also the announcement of an endowment campaign to name the Active Girls and Healthy Women Initiative in honor of Ireland, with a goal of $1 million. Nearly $400,000 has already been raised, officials said.

Supporters included, among others, Sue McKaig, former UK gymnastics coach Leah Little, Brigid DeVries and Dr. Dee Dlugonski, along with Scott Lephart, PhD and Dean of the College of Health Sciences.

“Dr. Ireland’s induction into the AOSSM Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor,” Lephart said. “Her dedication to the well-being of all is remarkable. And I join the many people — from her fellows and physician colleagues, to her grateful patients, to her life-long friends — in considering it a privilege to work with her to create her legacy through Active Girls and Healthy Women.”  

Ireland received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis. Her orthopedic residency was at the University of California, Irvine. She did two fellowships in Sports Medicine: Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University in Boston; and Hughston Orthopaedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga. 

Ireland served as team physician for Eastern Kentucky University for 18 years and team physician for the University of Kentucky for 11 years. She also served as medical coordinator and head physician for the Bluegrass State Games for 11 years, and was the head physician at the Olympic Sports Festival in Minneapolis in 1990. She served as medical staff member at the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992.  

Ireland is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. She is a member of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, Kentucky State Advisory Council on Athletic Trainers, and an affiliate member of the National Athletic Trainers Association. She has served on the Kentucky Medical Association's Committee on School Health, Physical Education, and Medical Aspect of Sports for the past 33 years. 

Ireland has published 45 chapters and 65 articles in peer reviewed journals. She is co-editor of The Female Athlete (Saunders 2002) and editor of the AAOS Instructional Course Lectures — Sports Medicine, published (2005).  

Ireland was named Southeast Athletic Trainer’s Association Sports Medicine Person of the Year in 1997 and was the recipient of President's Challenge Award for National Athletic Trainer’s Association in 1998. She received the American College of Sports Medicine citation award in 2015. She was the first person inducted into the Sayre School Hall of Fame in 1996, and she was inducted into the Kentucky High School State Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

Mark R. Hutchinson, M.D., who practices sports medicine and orthopaedics at University of Illinois Health, completed a medical fellowship under Ireland. During a celebration of her Hall of Fame induction, Hutchinson called Ireland the “consummate educator” and talked about academic heritage, a term he uses to describe how generations of students are influenced by their teachers as well as by their teachers’ teachers. He named renowned orthopaedic surgeons who Ireland studied under as a fellow.  

“Jack Hughston, Lyle Micheli, and James Andrews shared their wisdom with Dr. Ireland and she, in turn, shared it with her fellows and brought her own wisdom,” he said. “This is her legacy. She has had thousands of patients, hundreds of elite and Olympic athletes, and thousands of students. And through these fellows and students, she has another generation of patients who have benefited from her work.”   

Hutchinson also spoke of how the Active Girls and Healthy Women initiative, which Ireland co-founded, contributes to her legacy and extends the reach of her care. Founded in 2018, Active Girls and Healthy Women is an initiative of the UK Sports Medicine Research Institute in the UK College of Health Sciences.

People who would like to give to the endowment can click here and write “endowment” in the section for additional instructions.