Jun 6, 2018Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award
Announcing our 2018 Winner: Jim Berry, Conway (S.C.) High School
There’s a quote from the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey that Jim Berry, EdD, ATC, SCAT, NREMT, keeps on his desk so he can be reminded of it daily. “It reads, ‘The highest compliment anyone can have in their life is when the girl of their dreams says, “I do.” The second highest compliment is when your peers recognize you,'” recites Berry, who currently serves as Head Athletic Trainer at Conway (S.C.) High School, where he also teaches sports medicine and social studies.
Berry has collected both compliments-and more. In 1995, he wed the girl of his dreams. And for nearly 30 years, he has been a leader among athletic trainers, both regionally and nationally. He was chosen as National Chairman of the NATA Committee on Professional Ethics from 2013 to 2015 and followed that by serving as the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association (MAATA) District 3 Secretary for the next two years. In addition, he was selected to be a Convention Program Reviewer for the NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in 2009, a position he continues to hold.
For these and his many other accomplishments in sports medicine, Berry has received a litany of awards, including the 2006 NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award, the 2011 South Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association (SCATA) Founders’ Award, the 2013 MAATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, and the 2016 NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award. Now, Berry adds to his long list of accolades, as he has been named the recipient of Training and Conditioning’s 2018 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, sponsored by School Health.
“Berry is an outstanding athletic trainer on the field/gym, in the [athletic] training room, in the classroom, and to the community,” wrote Marion Shaw, Conway’s Athletic Director, in a letter nominating Berry for the distinction. “He is a proven leader in implementing new advancements in athletic training at our school and on the district level and making sure year after year our student-athletes and our coaches have the best knowledge and care that can be provided.”
After discovering his passion for what he calls “the art of athletic training” as an undergraduate athletic training student at the University of Michigan, Berry landed his first professional athletic training job at neighboring Pioneer High School in 1990. A year later, he relocated to become the Head Athletic Trainer at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High School. “When I started, we had basically nothing in our sports medicine facility-minimal equipment, no supplies,” he recalls.
Under Berry’s leadership, Myrtle Beach doubled the size of its athletic training space, upgraded its equipment, and grew the sports medicine program by hiring a full-time assistant athletic trainer. “We took the philosophy that we were going to run our program like a college would and provide the best possible care, not just first aid,” Berry says. “Two of the questions I asked the administration when I started were, ‘How much money do you have?’ and ‘What do you see this program becoming?’ They were more than supportive of my vision and said, ‘Whatever you need-within reason.’
One of the first moves Berry made—seen as radical at the time—was expanding coverage to all of the school’s sports teams, instead of just football. “That was a new philosophy, and I’ll always remember how it affected our entire athletic department,” he says. “Coaches were absolutely floored that we would cover their games and that they could send their athletes to us for treatment.”
Eventually, Myrtle Beach developed the sports medicine program Berry foresaw from the beginning. “I view myself as a builder who has been able to go into programs throughout my career and make them better than when I arrived,” he says. “By the end of my time at Myrtle Beach, we were able to accomplish all the things I had envisioned us doing when I started there in 1991.”
In 2013, Berry took on his next challenge at Conway. “At the time, Conway’s sports medicine program was completely in shambles, and the facility hadn’t been maintained properly,” he says. “I thought my wife was going to divorce me that summer because I spent 16 hours a day changing everything in the athletic training room—remodeling, painting, cleaning, and revitalizing it to where it needed to be.”
The experience reminded him of the 1,800 internship hours he completed during his time as an athletic training student. “At Michigan, there was always so much pressure to wash down the equipment and wax the athletic training room floor—it almost made me mad,” says Berry. “I didn’t realize the importance of those tedious tasks back then. But now, I tell young athletic trainers to take pride in their facility, care for their equipment, and leave things better than they were.”
Currently in his fifth year at Conway, Berry is proud of the progress that has been made. “We went from a skeleton of a program to being recognized as a NATA Safe Sports School,” he says. “We have everything in place to provide quality care to all of our student-athletes.”
That care goes well beyond meeting the sports medicine needs of players. “Berry is concerned about the total athlete and is often working with students concerning their grades and possible discipline issues in the school,” wrote Shaw.
Berry does this because he feels compelled to connect with athletes on “the bigger picture.” To help them find future success, he emphasizes the importance of academics, explaining how every grade affects college applications and NCAA eligibility.
“I probably spend as much time talking to kids about those issues as I do about their injuries or improving their performance,” he says. “I tell them success is not just about talent or wins and losses. It’s about putting in the effort in the classroom, being good citizens, and being responsible for their behavior.
“Encouraging kids on both sides of the line—athletically and academically—is really important,” Berry continues. “I always say that as long as they do something productive with their lives, I’m going to be proud of them no matter what.”
Berry is equally invested in the athletic training profession. Since 1989, he has served on more than a dozen local, district, and national committees, authored articles in numerous sports medicine publications, and presented several times at meetings and conventions. “The greatest thing that athletic trainers can do for our profession is to give back to it,” he says. “We know the needs of schools more than anyone, so we must be fully involved in what we’re trying to accomplish.”
With this mindset, Berry has approached his leadership roles the same way he approached his work at Myrtle Beach and Conway—as a builder. He originally joined the NATA Committee on Professional Ethics in 2006 before being selected as the National Chairman seven years later. “Being professional and ethical is extremely important because that’s what allows athletic trainers to make an impact,” he says. “It’s more than knowing the difference between right and wrong—it’s understanding both what’s legal and what’s ethical.”
During his years on the committee, Berry observed that young athletic trainers usually possessed knowledge of what’s legal but lacked the skills to decipher what’s ethical, so the group developed these lessons. “One of the things I’m most proud of is how we expanded our educational offerings from basically nothing to educating every level of our membership,” he says. “Prior to that, we were seeing a number of ethics complaints filed against members, and the most common issue was improper conduct with student-athletes, especially at the high school level.
“So we added discussions on topics like social media conduct between athletic trainers and student-athletes and whether to give a student your personal phone number,” Berry continues. “That was my main focus while I led the committee, and I think the membership has benefited from the informational programs we created.”
In his role of MAATA District 3 Secretary, Berry focused on improving the association’s communications. “I felt like we were out of touch and that our membership wasn’t getting the information they needed,” he says.
Thus, Berry implemented the “60 Second News,” an e-mail newsletter sent out monthly to bridge the gap between the MAATA’s regular spring and fall updates. “I’m thankful to see they’ve continued it,” he says. “My focus was improving customer service, and that’s the biggest thing I tried to leave behind.”
In addition, as a Convention Program Reviewer for the NATA, Berry has worked to provide athletic trainers access to new and varied topics. “It gives me an opportunity to discover what topics are sparking interest in the field and influence what the next convention’s presentations are going to be on,” he says. “For example, anything concerning mental health and counseling would be of great interest because it’s an area we must focus on more in high school athletics.”
One more of Berry’s extra roles is serving on the Honors and Awards Committee of the SCATA, but he’s looking to reduce his association work. “Now I’m to the point where I’m starting to step back because I feel like it’s time for the younger folks to get involved and start taking those leadership positions,” he says.
As he begins to lessen his involvement with regional and national groups, Berry is turning his focus more to teaching. He is a psychology instructor at nearby Horry-Georgetown Technical College and hopes to pursue opportunities at the collegiate level once he retires from Conway. “Many of today’s young professors of athletic training lack practical experience in the art of athletic training,” he says. “Sure, they have gone through years of schooling and received their terminal degrees, but by the time they’re in their late 20s, they’re already teaching the next generation. The problem is that few of them have spent enough time working clinically and proving themselves capable of teaching the subject.”
With retirement no longer a distant vision, there’s no doubt Berry has left an indelible mark on the athletic training profession and generations of athletes. “It’s extremely gratifying to have the opportunity to teach and care for children of former student-athletes and colleagues who have grown up to become contributing members of the community,” he says. “I’ve even worked with the daughter of one of my former assistants. It’s pretty cool that I’ve gotten to share my life’s calling with so many.”
The following athletic trainers were finalists for this year’s Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award.
Amy Anders, MS, ATC, CSCS, has been providing athletic training services at Bishop Fenwick High School in Franklin, Ohio, since 1997. On top of taking exceptional care of her student-athletes, Anders has added a number of other responsibilities, earning the respect and appreciation of the entire community.
Since 1999, she has taught two athletic training classes at the high school, while also leading an athletic training student aide program. And Fenwick has been named a NATA Safe Sports School.
“Amy is a consummate professional, and her dedication as an athletic trainer in the secondary school setting is unsurpassed in many ways,” Amy Bernard, MS, ATC, PES, Manager of Sports Medicine-South Region at Premier Health/Miami Valley Hospital in Centerville, Ohio, wrote in her nomination letter. “She seamlessly excels in representing Fenwick High School, Premier Health, and the profession of athletic training. She exemplifies Premier Health’s Core Values (Respect, Integrity, Compassion, and Excellence) in her daily interactions amongst colleagues, student-athletes, coaches, and administration.”
Another area where Anders goes above and beyond is in helping her colleagues. She will often assist athletic administration with event setup and breakdown, and she is always willing to provide an extra set of helping hands.
Even though she takes on a variety of other responsibilities, Anders’ ability as an athletic trainer remains undiminished. “My son has had lots of contact with her this season, and I am very happy with the care and treatment he receives,” wrote the mother of a Fenwick boys’ soccer player. “I have regularly gotten second opinions about the course of treatment prescribed by Amy this season, and it always comes back as the same course Amy prescribes. Fenwick is lucky to have her experience and dedication!”
At 6-foot-6-inches tall, Jon Glover, ATC, Athletic Trainer for Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, Md., may seem imposing, but that hasn’t kept students, parents, coaches, or administrators from flocking to him when they’re in need. Since arriving at Mount Saint Joseph in 2005, Glover has been an invaluable part of the school’s athletics department.
“Jon is an athletic trainer that puts his student-athletes, school, and profession first,” wrote Amy Magladry, MEd, LAT, ATC, Allied Health Teacher/Athletic Trainer for Baltimore County Public Schools, in her nomination. “He epitomizes the ethics and definition of an athletic trainer … He is willing to put forth that little extra effort to achieve his goals.”
Thanks to Glover, the Mount Saint Joseph sports medicine program has grown by leaps and bounds. Athletic Director Kraig Loovis recognizes how important it is to have such a dedicated athletic trainer, and he has praised Glover for his tireless work.
“The coaches, athletics staff, school administration, and our families have full confidence in his care, treatment, and management of injuries sustained on campus,” Loovis says. “His calm bedside manner while treating injuries reassures our athletes and parents during fearful moments. His experienced recommendations and doctor referrals ensure that our students receive the best care available.”
In addition, Glover has had an influence at the state and regional levels. He has partnered with other athletic trainers in the state to create a Wrestling Certification Program for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association to streamline the weight certification process. Glover also serves as the Maryland Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Nominations and Elections Chair and is on the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association’s District 3 Site Selection Committee.
As Head Athletic Trainer for Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., Dan Newman, MS, LAT, ATC, is always eager to help. Never was this more apparent than on Sept. 27, 2017, when a Union football player collapsed in the athletic training room after sustaining an undetected traumatic brain injury. Newman relied on his training to provide time-sensitive treatment, which ultimately saved the student-athlete’s life.
“You practice with emergency plans, but I’ve been in athletic training for over 20 years and this was something I’d never seen and may never see again,” Newman told the Tulsa World at the time.
Although the incident was shocking for all involved, those who know Newman said they were not surprised by the quality of care he provided. “Coaches, athletes, parents, and medical doctors have praised Dan for what he did that night, as well as every day at Union High School,” Emily Barkley, Athletic Director for Union Public Schools, wrote in her nomination letter.
At Union, Newman coordinates a sports medicine team that provides service to more than 1,700 student-athletes in 23 sports. In 2014, under Newman’s leadership, Union was honored as a NATA First Team Safe Sports School—one of the first schools in Oklahoma to receive this recognition.
On top of his many daily responsibilities at Union, Newman is an approved Clinical Instructor for the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University Entry Level Master’s Athletic Training programs. He has also served on the NATA Secondary Schools Athletic Trainers’ Committee, the NATA State Association Advisory Committee, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and the Mid-America Athletic Trainers’ Association’s District 5 Board of Directors and Finance Committee. In addition, he has been the President of the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association for the past two years.
When student-athletes at Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, N.J., suffer an injury, they take some solace in knowing that they will get to spend time with Head Athletic Trainer Allan Parsells, MS, LAT, ATC, ITAT. Since coming to the school in 2013, Parsells has become adored by the student-athletes for providing great treatment and creating a fun and welcoming environment in the athletic training room.
Perhaps no one knows this better than Fernando Aviles. As a cross-country runner at Oratory Prep, Aviles has faced injuries every season of his high school career. But instead of viewing each occurrence as a frustrating setback, he has seen them as opportunities to work with the man he calls “the beloved athletic trainer at Oratory Prep.”
“In my case, Mr. Parsells has been an active part of some sort of recovery every single year I have run cross-country,” wrote Aviles in his nomination letter. “One way or another, my body has given out on me, and he has been there to pick up the pieces and make recovery both quick and effective, while also making all my experiences with him enjoyable.
“I could never say I hated getting injured, because at least it meant I got to spend a couple days cracking jokes and listening to strange music with Mr. Parsells and all the other injured athletes,” Aviles continues. “Every person who has ever stepped into that office fearing the worst from their sprained ankle or shooting leg pain soon realizes that their recovery might not only be quicker than expected, but also a lot more enjoyable.”
Beyond helping athletes, Parsells is committed to assisting coaches in any way he can. He has partnered with various coaching staffs to develop proper strength and conditioning workouts and has gained the trust of coaches who appreciate the work he does with their athletes.
Outside of Oratory Prep, Parsells runs his own athletic training company and serves as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University. He has received three NATA Public Relations awards and is the Public Relations Chair of the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey.
This article appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Training & Conditioning.