Athletic training is a profession built on relationships. Just as important as the relationships ATs build with their patients are the ones they build with each other. NATA is often a conduit for these relationships, providing members with opportunities for collaboration, connection and a sense of belonging. This Be NATA blog series will highlight various AT relationships and the role NATA played in these connections.
When they met at an NATA Board of Directors meeting in 2014, former NATA President Tory Lindley, ATC, and NATA Student Leadership Committee mentor Tim Weston (Westy), MEd, ATC, couldn’t fathom how they hadn’t crossed paths prior to their election to the board, they said.
As Lindley puts it, their friendship was a match made in NATA heaven.
“The friendship was foundational in shared values, shared AT work settings, parallel senses of humor, including repeated self-deprecation!” Lindley said.
“We both attended large universities, obtained our master’s degree and found that our clinical strength was working with student athletes at the collegiate level,” Westy said. “Both of us started to volunteer at the state level and worked our way up through the district ranks. Tory was a leader at the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers’ Association, and I was a leader at the Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association – two very similar volunteer organizations with a rich, similar history.”
Fueled by collaborative work at NATA’s events and on projects, what started as a regular board meeting attendance became a lifelong friendship.
“Beyond playing the role of matchmaker, NATA provided the ongoing playground for our friendship to flourish,” Lindley said. “Through monthly calls, quarterly face-to-face meetings and countless FaceTime calls to just talk athletic training, we have been able to build and sustain an incredible friendship.”
“We most likely would not have become fast friends without NATA,” said Westy, who has not only served with Lindley at the district and national levels, but has also teamed up with him on profession-advancing initiatives.
Although life has Lindley and Westy in different states, they have relentlessly maintained their friendship thanks to technology, an annual in-person “bestie” reunion and NATA’s many leadership and volunteer opportunities.
One of these instances encapsulates some of the best buddies’ fondest memories of their relationship and each other.
“We were booked to share a room at NATA’s Capitol Hill Day [in Washington, D.C.],” Lindley said. “Yet the hotel made the mistake of placing us in a one-king-size-bed room with a couch. My flight was delayed from O’Hare International Airport and as such, I arrived long after Westy. As I quietly entered the room – well past midnight – I was greeted by Westy, the sleeping District One director, on the couch adjacent to an empty king-size bed that he had left for me.”
While Lindley expressed his appreciation for Westy and his family, Westy acknowledged Lindley’s support as an open and honest friend.
The NATA friendship benefits for these two aren’t only personal, but professional.
“Tory has the ability see how change agents can affect my life, both personally and professionally,” Westy said. “He makes me think outside the box and challenges me to come up with solutions that I might not have thought about. He doesn’t give me the answers but gives me a refreshing perspective.”
“Professionally, we have been able to collaborate with each other, challenge each other, learn from each other and advocate for each other,” Lindley said. “I have gained his professional contact list; he has gained mine. We have helped each other hire staff. We’ve been mutual career mentors and each other’s biggest cheerleaders. There is one regret—we met too late in our careers.”
However, a friendship that started late in the game continues to bloom as these two veteran NATA members enjoy its membership benefits, which Lindley called “countless.”
Westy agreed, saying NATA has enhanced his ability to provide patient care to his student athletes at Colby College.
“I have learned so much from so many NATA colleagues that have improved my own leadership skills when working and mentoring with our ATs,” he said. “Striving to be the very best medical professional means that you need to seek out the very best in our profession and NATA has allowed me to do so.”
For an AT looking to develop relationships at NATA, Lindley said, “The bigger your NATA network, the better your chances to thrive!”
In addition, Westy said making time to sustain such connections is crucial to the relationships’ longevity.
“Zoom calls, FaceTime or in-person meetings on a regular basis is a must,” he said. “Look for conferences or take time at the [NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo] to reconnect.”
No matter your setting, you have a home within NATA. Your membership opens the door to problem-solving resources and connects you to our global athletic training community. Be NATA and join or renew your NATA membership by Dec. 31. Don’t let finances get in the way of membership. Contact Member Services through email or by calling 972-532-8897 to learn more about how we can help.