Former Nuggets athletic trainer Jim Gillen enjoying new role at Metro State

by Aaron Lopez

Retirement is a relative term.

For some, it means beaches in Hawaii, art galleries in Europe or a hammock in the back yard.

For former Denver Nuggets athletic trainer Jim Gillen, retirement meant embracing a new adventure across the street from Pepsi Center.

After 23 years of working nights and weekends and arriving home from extended road trips at 2 a.m., Gillen is enjoying his new role as the associate athletic director for facilities and community engagement at Metropolitan State University.

“I did one thing for 39 years,” said Gillen, who started as a high school athletic trainer in San Antonio in 1975. “In this day and age, I’m not really old enough to retire. You find something else to keep you busy. That’s kind of what I was looking for.”

Gillen’s duties include overseeing Metro State’s sports medicine and athletic training department and handling event scheduling at the Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver.

In his first few weeks on the job, he has yet to tape a sprained ankle.

“I’m having a ball doing different things,” Gillen said.

“It’s a great place to be, and the people are really great. It’s terrific.”

Gillen, who joined the Nuggets in 1991, said he met with Metro State athletic director Joan McDermott last November to discuss what opportunities might be available in higher education. He wasn’t even talking about Metro State, specifically, but it turned out to be a perfect match.

“The timing couldn’t have been any better because they were getting ready to open this new facility and they were going to need another associated AD to help with these areas,” Gillen said. “It kind of grew from there.”

While Gillen begins his new role, his former assistant Dan Shimensky has moved into his office as the new Nuggets athletic trainer. Shimensky worked under Gillen for seven seasons.

“I think it’s great,” Gillen said. “I had hoped after all the years that position could be filled by the assistant who was with me or one I had (in previous years). Dan is ready to make that transition.

“He has a great background of his father being a trainer in the NBA for so many years. He understands it to a different degree than someone coming from the outside. He’ll do a terrific job.”

And if Gillen and Shimensky want to compare notes, they can just walk across the street.