Early Professionals’ Excellence Award: Overview and Criteria

Award Overview

The Early Professionals' Excellence Award was created by the Early Professionals' Committee to recognize early professional athletic trainers (in their 1st-6th year of certification) who are making unique and/or significant contributions for the advancement of the profession, valuing professional service and representing the future of athletic training in a strong and impactful way.

The selection committee encourages the sponsor to review the award and it’s criterion before submitting the nominee as an applicant. Recommendations are limited to one page, as a concise narrative of the nominee as how they relate to the award is necessary to award the best candidate possible. Collaborating with other recommenders is advised to ensure all perspectives and information is included.


The recipients should exhibit the following characteristics with examples present in their Advocate Letters:

  • Clear illustration of the candidate's outstanding volunteerism and service to professional organizations at any level or similar entities that promote the advancement of athletic training.
  • Demonstration of high standards in addition to passion for the betterment of the athletic training profession.
  • Active involvement within the athletic training community beyond standard job expectations. Evidence of dedication to professional service through any level from the national, district, state, and community levels.
  • Evidence of the candidate's advocacy for the profession of athletic training in both factual and supporting ways. See Appendix B for examples of both factual and supporting forms of evidence.
  • Candidates demonstrates effective leadership, collaboration, adaptability, and rapport with others interprofessionally, intraprofessionally, patients, and more.
  • Specific examples of the candidate’s promotion of future generations of athletic trainers. Consistently acts as a role model to athletic training students and other early professionals.
  • Demonstrates inclusivity of all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and religious beliefs. 


Procedure & Deadlines

  • Who can nominate? ATs of any years of experience are encouraged to nominate an AT that is considered an early professional (0-6 years of certification and licensure)
    • Utilize the Award Nomination Form
    • Deadline to Apply is March 30, 2024
    • Once the application has been submitted, a representative from the EPC will reach out to the nominator to confirm completion of the application
  • Who is reviewing the award? The award review is being conducted by the Early Professionals' Committee
  • How is awardee notified? The winner of the award and their nominator will be notified by the Chair of the EPC.
    • We anticipate notification to occur in May 2024
    • Those not selected will not be notified 
    • The awardee will be honored at the Annual Convention & Symposia in 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana (in-person attendance is not a requirement of the award)
  • March 30, 2024 -  Nominating athletic trainer must complete award nomination form and submit all relevant documents including letters of recommendation
  • May 2024 -  Only award recipient will be notified by the Early Professionals' Committee Chair


Award Eligibility

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a certified athletic trainer in their 1st – 6th years of certification.
  • Must be currently working in a position that has an athletic training specific capacity.
  • Must be a current NATA member in good standing.
  • Must have a NPI number with the appropriate taxonomy code.
  • Current members of the NATA Early Professionals Committee are not eligible for this award


Award Application Requirements

To be considered for this award, each nominee must have a complete award application:

  • Nominating athletic trainer must complete the online award nomination form

    • The nominator is not allowed to nominate themselves. Since the nominator must login to the NATA portal to nominate their desired individual, this will ensure they cannot nominate themselves.

  • The nominator will complete the nomination form, which will include demographics information for the nominee (see Appendix A) and upload their advocate letter and one other advocate letter from another unique individual all in the portal.
    • The nomination form and two unique advocate letters will all be required at the time of submission to complete the nomination. One of the advocate letters should be from the nominator and the other from another individual who knows the nominee.
  • Once submitted, the nominated individual, here forth nominee, will receive a populated email informing them of their nomination. The email will ask them to accept or reject their nomination and to login to the NATA portal to complete the rest of their award application.
  • The nominee will log onto the NATA portal from the link received in their populated email, accept or reject their nomination, and if accepting, certify that their demographic information put in by the nominator is true.



Winners will be selected by the NATA Early Professionals Committee.  A member of the Early Professionals Committee will notify the nominating athletic trainer once the application is complete.