NATA Hall of Fame Class of 2023: Mentors

May 11, 2023 by Lydia Hicks

The NATA Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of recognition for members, honoring a select group of athletic trainers who have shaped the athletic training profession and exemplified what it means to live a life of service.

More than a ring, green jacket and plaque on the wall, the NATA Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed on those who have spent countless hours perfecting their skills, mentoring the next generation of ATs and imprinting a lasting impact on the athletic training profession.

The May NATA News featured the class of 2023, highlighting their careers and volunteer achievements, and delves into their journeys as leaders in the profession.

The class of 2023 will be honored and inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame during the 74th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Indianapolis.

In this blog, the inductees share who their greatest mentors are and how they have impacted them.

All my assistants through the years. I have learned so much from each one of them.

Doug Woods, AT Ret.: He accepted me into the athletic training program, when very few women were involved. He was a wonderful ally for women. He called me when he heard there was a head athletic trainer position opened up at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in Michigan – I started and ended my career there. He also encouraged me to give back to the athletic training profession.

Rich Ray, EdD, AT Ret.: He was the president of the Michigan Athletic Trainers’ Society when I was the chair of professional education. He was going to run for the president-elect position for District Four, and encouraged me to run for the secretary-treasurer position. We both won. We spent four years working together in our respective positions. Rich and I were walking through the exhibit hall at the NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo and he needed to drop off some pages for a book he was writing with his publisher. I waited for him, and in a side conversation with the acquisitions editor, he asked, “Do you want to write a book?” I said, “No.” He said, “But if you were to write an athletic training book, what would it be about?” I said, “How to pass the certification examination.” He said, “Great, I’ll look forward to your proposal in a few weeks.” And that’s how my writing career happened. Rich and I then chatted about future leadership opportunities and he said, “You should run for district president.” I was surprised, asked if he was sure and he said, “Yes.” I became the first secondary school athletic trainer and first woman to be elected president of District Four.

Roger Kalisiak, AT Ret.: When we first met, Roger was chair of the District Four professional education program. He was always the voice of reason. He has a wonderful memory as to what happened and when it happened and the outcomes. He had a calming effect on me and helped me work through many issues. He is a great problem solver.

Rene Revis Shingles, PhD, ATC: I ran into Rene coming out of a meeting and she asked me what I was going to do next. I told her I was going to write a book about cultural competency. The two of us have collaborated on several projects. She is the ultimate expert on cultural competency in the athletic training world. She has taught me so much in this area.

Pat Aronson, PhD, LAT, ATC: Pat and I met when she was chair of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee. She was always lifting people up, including me. She taught me about process and knowing the right people and maintaining your integrity at all times. She really knows how to work behind the scenes and get things done. That is what she has taught me.

I have two primary mentors – both are members of the NATA Hall of Fame.

Frank Randall, MS, LAT, ATC: He set a standard of how to organize and run a large sports medicine organization with a constant focus and implementation on future trends in sports medicine. He also emphasized the responsibility of the athletic trainer to be involved professionally to continue to advance the profession.

Gary Delforge, AT Ret.: He shared the importance of high-quality education and professionalism in athletic training to advance the profession in the health care arena.

Gary Craner, AT Ret., Tom Koto, AT Ret., and Barrie Steele, AT Ret.: All three had an impact on me as mentors, whether they knew it or not, in completely different ways.

First off, Gary was my mentor as a student at Boise State University and he instilled in me the importance of getting involved with NATA and Northwest Athletic Trainers’ Association as both were vital to our profession. He never saw the profession and association as separate entities, but rather two sides of the AT coin. Gary just made it so that volunteering, even as a student, was important. Besides being involved with our association, Gary showed me what it was like to be a caring, loving, passionate athletic trainer. He was always learning something new, which rubbed off on me. He was never afraid to look into a textbook or call someone. It was never about pride or ego with him. If he didn’t know something (which was rare), he showed how important it was to ask and get other opinions. He was one to never just give you an answer either. He made you look up information, to make us think critically. Being an AT, Gary would say, was all about learning more. At the core of what I learned from Gary was all about taking care of our patients. I saw in him the kind of athletic trainer I wanted to become. I still hold him in such high regard for that very reason.

Tom Koto challenged me in ways that made me a better person, a better athletic trainer and a better servant leader, and I’m still striving to be better in all three because of Tom. He was the first one to emphasize and instill in me the importance of being a servant leader not just a leader. Being a leader meant you had to dedicate yourself to serve others in our association, no matter the position, by working hard on their behalf. Watching and learning from Tom, it was all about service to our membership first and foremost! He challenged me to not be complacent, to think beyond my field of view and to always view issues, objectives, projects through the lens of what is best for the profession and association, not what is simply best for a few. Tom’s charge was to always “do my homework” and to “be prepared.”

Barrie Steele was the District Ten director when I served as the District Ten Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee chair. Whenever I spoke with him about issues or projects that SSATC was working on or we were attempting to implement at NWATA, he’d challenge me in ways that often times seemed uncomfortable or even politely adversarial. It wasn’t because he was against the topic at hand; he was teaching me to be better prepared for questions that I probably hadn’t thought about. He would never just “solve” a problem; he forced me to not just pass something up to him that I could problem-solve.

From all three men, I gleaned qualities that I aspired to both in athletic training as well as being a servant leader.

Having already spoken of the impact that Jeff Tropf, Paul Bragenzer, Jeff Monroe, AT Ret., Sally Nogle, PhD, ATC, Tom Mackowiac, PhD, ATC, and Dave Carrier, AT Ret., had on shaping me into an athletic trainer, I have been blessed with a number of other very special clinical leaders who took the time to mentor me, inspire me, redirect my energy and generally tolerate me as a mentee! Tim Kirschner, Jim Marshall, Brent Millikin, MEd, LAT, ATC, and Holly Kasavana humbled a cocky young professional and taught me the importance of being a lifelong learner.

Bob Broxterman, Al Bellamy, MS, LAT, ATC, Kevin Bastin, Mike Ryan, ATC, NASM-CES, PT, Brad Brown, MS, LAT, ATC, Don Moseley, MS, LAT, ATC, Jim Madaleno, MS, LAT, ATC, and Mark Gibson, MSEd, MS, AT Ret., saw more in me than I saw in myself and taught me to have high expectations and prioritize. While they wouldn’t have known, for years I have closely studied Ronnie Barnes, ATC, Denny Miller, ATC, PT, NATA, Marje Albohm, MS, AT Ret., with a goal of emulating their professionalism, innovation, poise and sense of purpose. Finally, I thank [NATA Executive Director] Dave Saddler for his unyielding mentorship. Dave is one of the most intellectually gifted, business savvy and emotionally grounded people I have ever been blessed to work with and I cannot imagine any NATA successes without Dave’s mentorship.

Francis J. “Frank” George, AT Ret., is my biggest mentor. He helped shape me as an athletic trainer, gave me my first job and supported me as I began my volunteer work. He also taught me the skills I would need to be an excellent athletic trainer and medical professional and counseled me as I became a leader.