Mar 9, 2017
Finalist: Steve Lough

Training & Conditioning and School Health were swamped with deserving nominees for our 2017 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award. In the spirit of celebrating National Athletic Training Month, we’re highlighting our five deserving finalists each week in the month of March. This week’s honoree is Steve Lough, MS, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at Ripley (W.Va.) High School. The 2017 winner of the Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award will be revealed in our May/June issue.


One of the most important parts of being an athletic trainer is creating a foundation of trust and compassion with your student-athletes. That philosophy is front and center for Ripley (W.Va.) High School Athletic Trainer Steve Lough, MS, ATC, whose relationships with his athletes have been lauded by both parents and staff.

Throughout his eight years at Ripley, Lough has always made himself available for each and every athlete, many times working far past regular athletic training room hours to make sure they receive the proper care. And should a student-athlete’s injury require more than his program can provide, Lough is willing to transcend the athletic training room, discussing and scheduling appointments with parents and physicians. For this dedication, Lough was recognized as Athletic Trainer of the Year by the West Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association in 2012 and 2015.

“He has established a wonderful working rapport with student-athletes, coaches, staff, and parents,” wrote Ripley Assistant Principal Beverly Shatto in her nomination letter. “He is diligent in his attempts to serve all student-athletes in a thorough, yet timely manner.”

“Lough has not just taught his [athletic training student aides] how to be [athletic] trainers, but he has also showed them how to go above and beyond when there is an individual in trouble. He has given his students so much more than just athletic training skills.”

The thoroughness of his treatment as well as his ability to make athletes comfortable is made obvious in a nomination letter from a Ripley teacher and parent of a student-athlete. “My daughter – suffered from an injury this year,” wrote Tonia Carpenter. “[Steve] checked on her several times a day and contacted me personally to check on her.

“He always erred on the side of caution and cared about the athlete first,” she continued. “Because of this relationship that he has built, my daughter goes to him frequently to ask about nutrition, injuries, and what she can do to be a better athlete. The trust that she and other athletes have for him is amazing.”

Along with his duties as athletic trainer at Ripley, Lough also serves as the school’s Athletic Director and teaches courses in Athletic Training I, II, and III. His instruction doesn’t stay within the confines of the classroom, however. Lough knows that sometimes learning is best done by doing, so he places his athletic training student aides in game coverage situations, allowing them experience in prepping event locations, as well as the pre- and postgame responsibilities of an athletic trainer.

As there are always new innovations and findings in this field, Lough works with Ripley’s Curriculum Committee to offer more sports medicine courses, while also attending trainings so he can offer the most up-to-date information to his students. Approximately 10 of his athletic training student aides have gone on to college athletic training programs, and he also supervises a former student in a college internship as a preceptor for the University of Charleston.

Within the greater Ripley community, Lough is always on the lookout for someone in need. Last summer, the state of West Virginia experienced devastating floods that destroyed several area schools and diminished many athletic departments’ sports medicine supplies. Lough and his athletic training student aides took it upon themselves to sponsor fundraisers and organize supplies for athletic training programs in those affected areas.

And the positive impact of his responsiveness to students and athletes reaches further than the field. “Lough has not just taught his [athletic training student aides] how to be [athletic] trainers, but he has also showed them how to go above and beyond when there is an individual in trouble,” wrote Carpenter. “He has given his students so much more than just athletic training skills.”

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