Working with Student-Athletes ‘Labor of Love’ for Pettrone

Posted: May 14, 2014 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: May 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

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The Mason Medal is the university’s highest honorary award. Those receiving this recognition have a record of service consistent with the level exhibited by the university’s namesake, George Mason. Frank M. Pettrone is one of the three recipients this year.

By Corey Jenkins Schaut

Frank Pettrone, MD, has been the head team physician for Mason Athletics for 20 years. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Frank Pettrone, MD, has been the head team physician for Mason Athletics for 30 years. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Former men’s basketball standout John Vaughn, BA Communication ’09, believes no one deserves recognition more than George Mason University Athletics’ head team physician Frank M. Pettrone, who receives the Mason Medal at Commencement on Saturday.

“He took care of me like I was one of his children,” Vaughn says. “Every time I see him, I always say, ‘You’re the reason I walk.’” Pettrone treated Vaughn’s knee injury in 2005, and Vaughn credits Pettrone and Mason Athletics training staff with helping him to return to basketball a better athlete. As a senior, he was named second-team All-CAA and selected to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

Vaughn, a 2004‒09 team member, is one of the countless student-athletes that Pettrone cared for in his more than 30 years volunteering with Mason. Treating injuries like Vaughn’s led Pettrone to work with athletics staff to improve athletic training facilities at the university. The Frank Pettrone Center for Sports Performance, named in his honor, held its grand opening in fall 2013 in Mason’s renovated Field House. The center offers holistic care, pulling together services including strength and conditioning facilities, performance nutrition, sports science, sports psychology and sports medicine. Longtime financial supporters of the university, Pettrone and his wife, Claire Pettrone, JD ’91, provided a $100,000 lead gift that helped to launch the project.

“I don’t think there’s been anybody who’s been such a consistent donor of both their time and their money,” says assistant athletic director Debi Corbatto, BS Marketing ’86 and MS Exercise, Health, and Fitness Promotion ’03, who heads the center. “It’s been an amazing journey for him.”

For Pettrone, working with student-athletes has always been a labor of love. “There is a gratification you get from just seeing these kids get out and play,” he says. “They are so motivated and so positive.”

Write to Corey Jenkins Schaut at

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