Jun 23, 2015
NATA 2015: Inside the Show

Check back here to read T&C Managing Editor Mary Kate Murphy’s insights from the floor of the NATA 66th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in St. Louis. Mary Kate is armed with a pen, pad, and a list of highlighted sessions to attend and will spend the rest of the week taking in the sights and sounds of the convention and share her observations in this blog.

Friday, 2:08 p.m. 

Well, another NATA Clinical Symposia and AT Expo is in the books, and what a show it was! I have to say that one of my favorite parts was getting to interact with so many past and present T&C authors and contributors! I want to thank Bertha De La Garza, Mary Kirkland, Tavis Piattoly, Mike Hooper, and Ernest Eugene for coming to our booth to say hello! It was a pleasure talking with you! And a special thanks to our T&C 2015 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Larry Cooper, who not only stopped by, but signed a few copies of the May/June issue for us. What a treat! You can find all of the articles by these folks on our website by just searching their name. 

And it was also awesome to talk to readers about how much they love the magazine. More than one could quote their favorite article from memory, and lots of them share our articles with their colleagues. In fact, our last act of the day was to give a case of magazines to an athletic trainer who said she was going to distribute them to students in her high school sports medicine class. Not a bad way to wrap up the day! 

Finally, a big thank you to the NATA for having us at this 66th Clinical Symposia and AT Expo! I attended some phenomenal presentations, and it was a blast getting to interact with our readers at the booth. All in all, we received more than 500 new or renewed subscription forms! It’s been fun, St. Louis, and we’ll see everyone next year in Baltimore! 

…alright, I can’t conclude this blog without an obligatory shot of the Arch. 

Friday, 11:20 a.m.

Last day of the show for the T&C gang! I hit my last session this morning, “Strength and Conditioning Skills for the Athletic Trainer,” presented by Gary Schofield, Jr., ATC, CSCS*D, RSCC*D, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Greater Atlanta Christian School. Despite bad weather last night, with some areas of greater St. Louis getting more than five inches of rain, this session had quite the turnout!

The focus of the seminar was Schofield’s “Five Strength and Conditioning Skills for Athletic Trainers.” Below, I’ve included all five and a brief description for each. 

1. Do no harm: Included in this skill are reducing on-field injury risk, reducing training injuries, and increasing performance. Schofield focused specifically on the importance of knowing the athlete, which includes having an understanding of their ability level, training age, needs analysis, and level of readiness.  

.2. Move well: Here, Schofield talked about the necessity of completing movements screens with athletes before they begin any strength and conditioning work. This important step can potentially prevent training and sports injuries. Plus, as Schofield said, “movement efficiency=training productivity.” 

3. Move strong: Part of this section focused on athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches speaking the same language. Schofield says athletic trainers should understand basic strength terms like relative intensity, sets, reps, volume, strength endurance, etc., all mean. He also talked about handling athlete stressors that are out of their control. Things like relationships with parents, friends, and significant others, as well as academic stresses. Schofield utilizes the practice of autoregulation, which involves periodization to fit the daily needs of athletes. He stressed the need to make changes based on performance, not feel. 

4. Move fast: With agility and conditioning work, Schofield focuses on “the big three:” force absorption, force production, and force re-direction. An interesting detail of his conditioning work is that he always makes sure it includes a mental component. For example, his football team has to solve a math equation in between sprint reps. If they don’t get the answer correct within 10 seconds, they owe another sprint. He says this relates to the game experience, because even when players are fatigued, they need to be able to focus and stay mentally sharp. 

5. Thrive: Of course, the goal of both athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches is for athletes to thrive. To do that, both professionals need to be on the same page and connect all the dots of athletic performance. For Schofield, this includes nutrition, hydration, sleep, and stress. He monitors the nutritional intake and hours of sleep his athletes get each night. 

Thursday, 5:18 p.m.

What better way to wrap up the afternoon than with the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Johnson & Johnson Keynote Speaker Amy Purdy? What a special 2015 class. Each member has and continues to make a mark on the athletic training profession. The NATA did a fantastic job of honoring each inductee with a video tribute, and their individual speeches were touching and heartfelt. Congratulations to all! 

Without further ado, here is a list of this year’s 2015 Hall of Fame class: 

Christine Bonci, MS, ATC, LAT (posthumously): Co-Director, Division of Athletic Training/Sports Medicine and Associate Athletics Director at the University of Texas. Tina’s acceptance speech was given by Texas Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Medicine LaGwyn Durden, and her green jacket was accepted by her sisters. Tina was a frequent contributor to T&C, and her voice will sorely be missed by the profession. 
David Carrier, MA, ATC: Associate Head Athletic Trainer (men’s ice hockey), Michigan State University
Malissa Martin, EdD, ATC: Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Assessment/Graduate Program Director, Rocky Mountain University
Terrance Noonan, MS, ATC, LAT: Director of Athletic Training Services, University of Iowa
Russ Richardson, EdD, ATC: Athletic Trainer and Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance, University of Montana Western
Brian Robinson, MS, ATC: Adjunct Faculty Member at Northern Illinois University, former Head Athletic Trainer at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. Brian was named our 2014 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer. Check out his story here
Sandra Shultz, PhD, ATC, FNATA: Professor and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Thomas Weidner, PhD, ATC, FNATA: Chairperson of the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science and Professor of Athletic Training, Ball State University
Also got the chance to check out the Keynote Speaker Amy Purdy. She opened her speech with a question: “If your life was a book, and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?” This question helped spark her determination after losing both legs below the knee due to complications from meningococcal meningitis. After struggling with depression following her illness, Amy has gone on to travel the world and help countless people along the way. From winning the bronze medal as a snowboarder in the 2014 Paralympic Games to finishing second in season 18 of Dancing with the Stars, Amy has shown that no obstacle is too great to overcome. As she said in her presentation, there are two ways to handle obstacles: You can either let them stop you in your tracks or you use them to get creative. It’s clear that she took the latter route. 
Thursday, 1:49 p.m.

So several exhibits in the AT Expo have caught my eye over the past couple of days, so I thought I’d spend some time this afternoon checking them out. I found lots of new and interesting products! 

SwimEx is now offering customized plunge tanks in addition to their standard small, medium, and large options. The Green Bay Packers have a 26-foot model. Not stopping there, the University of Louisiana has a 35-foot plunge tank–the football coach’s special request so the whole team could take the “plunge” together. 

HydroWorx was featuring the HydroWorx 300, which takes all the best technology of underwater treadmills and makes it construction-free. So now, instead of having to get a construction  crew to come in and install the pools, the HydroWorx 300 has a small footprint and fits through a standard door. Now, the water therapy and performance HydroWorx is known for is available anywhere!


The Nayada Institute of Massage had quite the gathering when I walked by. They were offering treatments with their Accu-Roller, which uses North American hardwood and soapstones that can be warmed or cooled. With just a few minutes in the microwave or freezer, the Accu-Roller can reach the ideal temperature depending on your needs and will stay that way for up to 20 minutes. Plus, removing the soapstones makes for an easy Accu-stick massage experience. And the best part is, clinicians can save their thumbs for another day and let the tool do all the work!

The Athletic Edge had two new products to share–the Aluma Elite line of athletic training room equipment, as well as the SmartCart. The Aluma Elite line is made of durable aluminum that has the look and warmth of wood. School can get the equipment branded with their school logos and colors, which can assist with recruiting, while enjoying a product that is easy to breakdown and ship and will hold up to the demands of the busiest athletic training room. 

The SmartCart is a one-of-a-kind tool that can meet all the mobile taping, evaluation, and treatment needs of athletic trainers. Coming in 4-, 6-, and 8-foot options, the SmartCart has customizable drawers and shelves, a lift-back treatment top, a pass-through cubby to store crutches and/or spine boards, and a hitch that accepts multiple adapters for cart movement. Plus, the cart can be wrapped in your school’s logo and colors to show team pride and appeal to recruits. 

Thursday, 11:28 a.m.

Thought I’d get a good jump on the day with two morning sessions, and they certainly did not disappoint! The first was “Using Tablet Devices and Cell Phones for Biomechanical Assessment in an Evidence-Based Athletic Training Practice,” presented by David Ruiz, ATC, from Orlando Athlete. I anticipated a seminar full of high-tech lingo and complicated software discussions, but it was instead filled with practical, easy-to-understand advice that any athletic trainer can use! Ruiz walked us through the different ways cell phones and tablets can be used for biomechanical analysis, feedback, to form baselines and view progress, pre- and post-injury pictures, measuring joint angles, etc. He also ran down all the factors athletic trainers have to consider when picking a device to use. How big is the device? Where is the camera located? How good is the camera? How much memory does the device have? All factors that could influence which cell phones and athletic trainers purchase and use with their athletes.

It was neat how Ruiz showed us how using video and photos helped him catch things in athletes he didn’t see with the naked eye. For example, he had video of the University of Idaho cheer team performing a routine. In normal speed, everything appeared to go smoothly. But by slowing down the video and looking at it frame by frame, Ruiz found several athletes who were internally rotating their hips when catching a flyer or not getting full hip flexion when performing a stunt, both of which could leave the athlete vulnerable for injury down the road. 

Switching gears, my next session was “Developing Alternative Staffing Models for the College/University Setting” and featured three different speakers. As the title suggests, each presenter discussed unique ways to provide athletic training services. Michael Van Bruggen, MS, ATC, LAT, Head Athletic Trainer at Carson-Newman University, talked about strategies for expanding an athletic training staff at a NCAA Division II institution. He says his secrets to success has been developing relationships based on mutual respect with administrators and coaches, being straightforward and honest about your needs, and determination. 

The second speaker, Marie Potter, DPT, SCS, ATC, Coordinator for Sports Physical Therapy Residency and Athletic Training Residency at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, addressed the increasing popularity of athletic training residencies. These “advance the preparation of athletic training practitioners thought a planned program of clinical and didactic education in a specialized area of focus.” At Houston Methodist, this involves balancing time spent in lectures and labs with hands-on athletic training at local high schools. With educational changes likely on the horizon for athletic trainers, this model could become more and more popular in the coming years. 

Finally, Chuck Kimmel, LAT, ATC, described the Student Health Services Injury Clinic at Appalachian State University, of which he is the director. The Injury Clinic provides athletic training and other medical services to the student body of App State, including club and intramural athletes. As part of Student Health Services, students’ treatments are covered by the student fee they pay every year, making costs low. Plus, Kimmel’s Clinic is staffed by two full-time certified athletic trainers and several student athletic trainers, giving the student ATs the chance to have valuable clinical time. 

Wednesday, 9:39 p.m.

Training & Conditioning Publisher Mark Goldberg (right) presents Larry Cooper with the 2015 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer award, presented by School Health.

Training & Conditioning Publisher Mark Goldberg (right) presents Larry Cooper with the 2015 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer award, presented by School Health.

When Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC, walked into his office at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., a few months ago, he found Training & Conditioning’s article on 2014 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award Winner Brian Robinson. Or at least that’s what Cooper thought it was. Upon closer inspection, he discovered a photo of his face glued on top of Robinson’s. That’s how he found out he won T&C’s 2015 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer award, presented by School Health.  

Cooper’s two assistant athletic trainers–who also nominated him–had secretly been filming the whole reveal. His response? “Speechless. I went, ‘Are you kidding me?’” he said. “I had no idea–it’s very humbling.”

In addition to the article commemorating Cooper’s achievements in T&C May/June, he was presented a plaque at a reception tonight hosted by School Health.

Joined by a number of colleagues and friends made over his more than 30-year career in athletic training, Cooper tried to soak it all in. “The positive feedback I’ve received has been overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve gotten phone calls from all over the country, as well as countless emails and Facebook messages congratulating me.”

A member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society’s Hall of Fame and a recipient of the 2014 NATA Athletic Training Service Award, Cooper’s dedication to the profession has been well documented. However, he says this award has a special meaning, in part due to its focus on high school athletic trainers, which reflects his mission to make the secondary school level “a destination, not a stepping stone.”

“I think that sometimes athletic trainers need to stand out for what we’ve done, what we provide, and show our value to a school district or community, and I think this award validates some of that,” Cooper said. “It validates what we do, whether that be providing a safe school or sports environment or going above and beyond traditional job duties.

“For me personally, this award is an affirmation of what I’m trying to do, and that’s to make a difference and leave things better than I found them,” he continued. “That’s what my parents taught me, and it has always been my motto.”

Of course, Cooper is not done improving the athletic training profession. As the Chair of the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee, he says the group’s latest project is a saturation study in conjunction with the Korey Stringer Institute called ATLAS, which stands for Athletic Training Location and Services.

“We’re going to use z-maps to create a visual representation of every athletic trainer in the country,” Cooper said. “There’s going to be different colors for schools that don’t have an athletic trainer, schools that have multiple athletic trainers, NATA Safe Sports School Award winners, and so on. The aim is to improve health care provided to athletes by making it easier to locate and communicate with athletic trainers in your area.

“For example, if my team is going to a high school we’ve never visited before, I can click on the z-map, find the athletic trainer, and say, ‘I’m coming up there for a game. Do I need to bring anything?’” he continued. “Likewise, if my team is away and someone gets hurt, that athletic trainer can find me on z-maps and call me to let me know the situation.”

ATLAS is rolling out next week with Louisiana as the pilot state. Cooper says the goal is for all 50 states to be up and running by the 2016 NATA Convention.

From all of us here at T&C, congratulations to Larry Cooper on being named the 2015 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer. Click here to view our profile of Cooper in our May/June issue of T&C.

Wednesday, 5:04 p.m.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a great seminar called, “Sports Medicine and Disability Sport: Integrating Effective Service Provision,” a three part presentation by Dustin Williams, MS, ATC, Athletic Trainer at the University of Arizona; Jeremy Marra, MS, ATC, CSCS, Athletic Trainer at the University of Michigan, and Traci Statler, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University-Fullerton. Each presenter spoke about the considerations necessary when working with athletes with disabilities. Williams spoke mostly about his experience with Paralympic athletes and the importance of knowing their medical history during evaluation and treatment. Marra addressed the needs of athletes with intellectual disabilities, particularly those involved with Special Olympics. He brought up a lot of valid pros of working with this population, such as the chance to work with a multidisciplinary medical staff, experience in mass event planning and medical supervision, and increased communication and assessment skills. Statler talked about the sports psychology aspect of working with athletes who have physical and intellectual disabilities, specifically the stressors associated with classification and accessibility.

There were two big takeaways from this presentation. First, athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities are more similar to able-bodied athletes. And also, that opportunities for athletic trainers to work with this population are abundant. To learn more, contact your local Special Olympics or Paralympics office. 


I spent most of the afternoon in T&C booth 2233 spending some time with our readers. It’s always great to hear what they like about the magazine and the unique ways they utilize the information we provide. I was pleased to hear about the collaborative ways athletic trainers are using T&C. A lot of athletic trainers who stopped at the booth told me that they read each issue and then use the articles with their sports medicine classes or student athletic trainers. Others share sport-specific articles with the relevant sport coaches. 

 I also heard quite a few athletic trainers who use T&C to collaborate with their strength coaches. One athletic trainer said his sports teams used a specific workout based on an article we ran. And another said he clips relevant strength articles for his strength coach. All of this collaboration sounds great to me–when athletic trainers and strength coaches work together, the athlete is the ultimate benefactor! 

Wednesday, 10:44 p.m.

The AT Expo has begun! The hall is alive with the steady hum of athletic trainers exploring all the exhibits and products. I’d like to invite convention attendees to come visit the T&C booth in the exhibit hall (booth #2233) where you can pick up your free show pack. It contains our May/June issue, plus a special guide to products on display at the convention.

Remember to look through your packet for tickets–there are hundreds of opportunities to instantly win a prize from one of our participating advertisers. This is also a great time to renew your free T&C subscription. Each new subscription gets you a FREE CEU quiz! And don’t forget to enter to win our grand prize of 12 FREE T&C CEU quizzes–a $300 value!


I just got out of the NATA’s press conference, “Athlete Safety First: From Youth to Professional Play.” This two-part conference went over the highlights of the NATA’s new “Inter-Association Consensus Statement on Management of Spine Injuries” and announced the expansion of the NFL Foundation Athletic Training Grant Initiative.

There are 14 recommendations with the spine injury consensus statement, but panelist MaryBeth Horodyski, EdD, ATC, FNATA, Vice President of NATA and one of the statement’s authors, said the biggest change from the old recommendation pertains to the removal of athletic equipment. Previously, athletic trainers often left equipment (such as shoulder pads and helmets in football) on the athlete during transport to a trauma center and emergency rooms, leaving it to be removed by physicians and nurses. Now, sports medicine staffs are instructed to take the equipment off on the field. The reasons for this are multiple:

1. Sports medicine personnel are already familiar with the equipment, whereas doctors and nurses in ERs usually are not.

2. This will provide the on-site athletic trainer with access to the athlete’s airway and chest, both of which are important when treating a spine injury.

3. It facilitates testing once the athlete arrives at a trauma center–physicians can get them right in for imaging without having to remove all the equipment.

A big component of this new recommendation will be education. The statement says at least three trained rescuers should partake in the removal of athletic equipment. Athletic trainers will have to become familiar with the equipment of all sports, from football shoulder pads to hockey helmets, and have to understand the specific equipment needs of each position.

As panelist Jim Ellis, MD, emergency physician for the Atlanta Falcons, said, implementing these changes will take time. And as panelist Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT-I, CSCS, Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia, reiterated, the key is to practice, practice, practice.

With a quick change of the panelists, the second part of the conference delved into the expansion of the NFL Foundation’s Athletic Training Grant Initiative. Founded last year to provide athletic trainers to underserved high schools in NFL markets, grants will now also be available to schools outside of NFL markets. As part of a collaboration between the NFL, Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society (PFATS), Gatorade, and NATA, $2 million will be available. The expanded program will open later this summer.

Each award-winning school will be able to cater the monies to their community’s specific needs. For instance, panelist Reggie Scott, MS, ATC, PES, Head Athletic Trainer for the St. Louis Rams, said the program in the greater St. Louis community will focus on covering all home varsity football games for the St. Louis Public School District this fall. In addition to having an athletic trainer on the sideline, follow-up care will be available during the week and all varsity football coaches will be certified in Heads Up Football.

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, the panelists were asked about the care not covered by these grants: It’s great to have athletic trainers at games, but what about practices? Both Scott and Rick Burkholder, ATC, LAT, Head Athletic Trainer for the Kansas City Chiefs and President of PFATS, emphasized that these grants are aimed at progress.

“This program is to stimulate,” Scott said. “Take a step forward and stimulate to ‘We need full-time care.'”

Burkholder agreed. “In the following years, can you imagine the schools that only have athletic trainers for games stopping the program? They can’t,” he said. “We’re trying to prime the pump here.”


I’ll be in T&C booth 2233 for most of the afternoon chatting with readers. Be sure to stop by, say hi, and renew your subscription!

Tuesday, 8:56 p.m.

What a visual feast at the Welcome Reception! From the moment you walked in the door at the massive Edward Jones Dome, there were sights to see, starting with the 2015 NATA Hall of Famers welcoming us at the door. The music and lights were awesome, and my hat’s off to the circus performers and local band Dance Floor Riot. Not a bad way to kick off the convention, I’d say. Here’s a glimpse into the festivities that were under the “Big Top:”

Tuesday, 4:26 p.m.

The T&C team is ready for St. Louis! We flew out of the Binghamton, NY airport at 6 a.m… this morning, joined along the way by athletic training travel companions from our NY neighbors Ithaca College and Army! It was easy to recognize them, since I was wearing a matching “Ithaca is Gorges” T-shirt as one of them. 

Arriving at the beautiful America’s Center Convention Center a mere blocks from our hotel this afternoon, we got to work setting up our booth (We’re booth #2233!). As you can see, we had quite a bit of company! Slowly but surely, all the exhibits started to come together, and it was awesome seeing some of the finished products. Although, to be honest, I’m pretty partial to our set-up at T&C (below)The energy was absolutely buzzing on the AT Expo floor, and I think convention attendees have quite a bit to look forward to when the doors open!

In a couple of hours, the T&C gang will be headed to the Welcome Reception tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Edward Jones Dome. And I think we’re going to try to get a little sightseeing in before dark–I saw the Arch on our ride from the airport, and I’m determined to get a closer look! Keep an eye out for our T&C shirts, and if you see us on the street, please say hello. (Or if we look lost, please point us in the right direction!) Be sure to check back here for updates as the convention kicks off, and if you have any tips on where to find good BBQ, shoot me an email at [email protected]. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings in St. Louis!

Here’s where and when to find T&C at the show:

Booth #2233

Wednesday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (restricted to certified athletic trainers, certified athletic training students, and associate member attendees) 

Thursday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open to all attendees)

Friday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (open to all attendees)

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