Skip to main content

May 30, 2023

Craig Eilbacher: Educating the Whole Person for Their Life Ahead

Craig Eilbacher intended to major in Marine Biology as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. But, like a lot of students, his journey ended up taking him in another direction. It wasn’t a class, however, that changed his mind – rather, it was a hurt shoulder.

While recuperating from the injury, he realized the important role that physical therapy plays in helping people. Before long, he found himself working in the athletic training field as a student. After graduating from UNCW, he began teaching at a North Carolina high school while working as an athletic trainer, and that’s where the teaching bug bit him.

Craig started his college teaching career at Guilford in the spring of 2002 and soon began pursuing his doctoral degree. More than two decades later, he is the chair of the Sport Studies Department and can’t think of a better job.

“I love teaching,” he says. “I want that to come out in the classroom. I go into my classroom every day and I hope my students say, ‘Craig is excited to be here.’”

Craig says he has made his professional home at Guilford because the school gives him a chance to do what he loves. “Guilford is about teaching. To me, teaching is the major thing. That’s why I stay.” He adds, “Guilford gives me a chance to branch out and work with students.”

While his background is in athletic training, he largely works as a generalist in Sport Studies. Craig sees it as his duty to get students ready to work across fields.

"I get to teach from a lens of what students will experience in many of the allied health fields," he says. "I didn't want to just teach in an athletic training curricular program all day long. Our program is designed to give students a foundation for whatever field they may pursue in graduate school."

Students grow their skills thanks in part to an excellent department that Craig says works collaboratively to educate them. They use the latest research to get Sport Studies students up-to-date on relevant issues, such as the growing issue of concussions in sports.

His joy of expanding the academic minds of students extends beyond just those in his major. As physical fitness and health has become increasingly important to young people, Craig says he enjoys the opportunity to impart knowledge that will benefit them for a lifetime. But they also gain from learning life skills about such things as how health insurance works.

"When I have these students in class, I love when they come back and say, ‘I understand this.’ There are a lot of takeaways from the major, and taking courses outside of the major is the benefit of a liberal arts education. Students can use this knowledge outside their field of study."