Jul 13, 2015
Well-Deserved Recognition

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 hosted by School Health on Wednesday night.

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 at the end of June, 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!



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