The first day of the 73rd NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo set an inspiring tone for attendees to take with them through the rest of the convention. Attendees were “Reunited AT Last” at the Keynote presentation, Lessons from Leadership, featuring NATA Past Presidents Julie Max, MEd, ATC, Marje Albohm, MS, AT Ret., and current President Kathy Dieringer, EdD, LAT, ATC.
NATA Title IX Task Force Chair Cari Wood, LAT, ATC, moderated the discussion as the leaders shared the challenges they’ve faced as women in athletic training, reflected on their experiences and provided vision and encouragement for the future.
“Each of our panelists are a trailblazer in the athletic training profession overcoming a variety of challenges in their rich and storied roles in leadership,” Wood said.
Honoring the concurrent celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Wood started the discussion by asking the panelists some thought-provoking questions, one of them being what Title IX means to them.
“The beginning, creating jobs for female athletic trainers,” Albohm said. “If not for that, there won’t be us.”
“It means hope,” Max said. “You see, for me, personally, hope is a very big piece of my life. Not only personally, professionally, but most importantly, spiritually.”
Dieringer said that she had two words for what Title IX means to her: “My biggest word would be ‘opportunity’ because it gave so many of us that,” she said. “And on the tail of that would be ‘empowerment,’ because through that opportunity, we gained empowerment.”
Having moved the crowd with a powerful start, the leaders took the audience on a captivating journey through their leadership development.
LEADERSHIP LESSONS: Highlights from the Keynote
*Responses have been edited for brevity
Tell us where you started. What was your first leadership or volunteer role and what did you learn?
DIERINGER: I start with my first volunteer position. I had just moved back to District Six, which is my home district, went to the then district director and said, “Put me on something, I want to serve” and heard nothing. So, the next time I saw him I did the same thing: “Put me on something, I want to serve.” Nothing. I went to him the third time and I think he promptly put me on registration, which I think was to get rid of me … people said, “Registration, that’s where you had to start?” No, that’s where I got to start, because, guess what, everybody comes through registration and it started my networking. Fast forward to 10 to 15 years later, Marje Albohm calls me – I didn’t even know how Marje knew who I was much less how she got my phone number – and asked me to chair a new committee. I never had that in my scope. I wasn’t advocating for that but because I raised my hand and somebody put me to work and years later, somebody in a position to lift me up made that phone call and said, “Kathy, please, do this.” So, it’s all about that networking, starting very early, of course, and being around people of influence, whether that’s Marje, Julie or any leader out there and lifting each other up, that’s really what our profession is about.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
MAX: My biggest challenge was myself. The most important thing that I have learned and continue to learn to this day is, “Know what you don’t know.” It seems so simple … I didn’t know how to be the first female president. I didn’t know how to do that because nobody had been in that situation before me and so when you know what you didn’t know, you have a tendency to work harder to know what you need to know. So, I think that for me, it became very apparent to understand that concept. What I did know is that I knew how I wanted to lead. I wanted to lead with imagination, I wanted to lead with interest and I wanted to lead with integrity.
What kind of opportunities on the horizon are you excited about for some of our new leaders in the profession to take on? Do you have any words of encouragement you’d like to offer them?
ALBOHM: We have so much to celebrate. Fifty-six percent of our membership are women. We’ve come so far, but we have unfinished business to do. Equality does not equal equity. There is still disparity in salaries, leadership positions and promotions, not just in our profession, but in all professions. The time is now to address those issues, for each one of you to become change agents. I am going to reference a quote by fellow athletic trainer who ran a great series of leadership articles in the NATA News this year … “Creating greater leadership capacity should be the focus of every athletic trainer’s lifelong professional development.” So, what’s next? What’s next is, it’s your turn. It’s your turn and it’s always your turn. It’s your turn take on the challenges of the future. It’s your turn to be that one person that makes a difference. It’s your turn to be the next generation of change agents.
To view photos from the event, visit the NATA PhotoZone on SmugMug.