Professional Development Excellence Award

Formerly the Continuing Education Excellence Award, this award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of athletic training in the area of continuing education and professional development. Any NATA member may submit an individual for nomination. To be eligible to receive this award the candidate must have demonstrated an outstanding contribution to continuing education and professional development in athletic training that is sustained and impactful.  Contributions to continuing education should be demonstrated at the state, regional and national levels. Candidates are evaluated on four different criteria including: 1) volunteer service related to continuing education and professional development, 2) speaking/presentations, 3) creative works, and 4) a miscellaneous category to include contributions not previously listed. Members of the Professional Development Committee are not eligible for this award. Sub-committee members may be nominated.


Award Eligibility

  • NATA member in good standing with a minimum of ten years of membership in the organization.
  • Recognition for service to continuing education and professional development that is sustained and impactful at the state, regional and national level.
  • A minimum of five years contribution to continuing education and professional development.


Candidates who meet the minimum requirements will be evaluated on the criteria below: 

  • Volunteer Service Related to Continuing Education & Professional Development (40%)
    • Such as committee work, planning / hosting events, advising and related activities
  • Speaking and Presentations (40%)
    • Such as peer-reviewed and invited workshops, platform and poster presentations
  • Creative Works (10%)
    • Such as writing, technology, reviewing, editing and related activities
  • Miscellaneous Category (10%)
    • Further innovations or activities not included in other areas



Any NATA member in good standing may submit a nomination by downloading and completing the nomination form and submitting it to the Professional Development Committee by March 17. Nominations will be valid for two successive years.


Contact Knowledge Intiatives, Professional Development Manager


Application Guidelines

  1. Nomination may be made by any NATA member in good standing.
  2. Each nominator is responsible for completing the nomination form.
  3. A maximum of one candidate will be selected for this award per year.
  4. Once nominated, the candidate’s materials will be kept on file for a two-year period and considered both years if not selected in the first year.
  5. The award need not be given each year if no candidates are deemed qualified for the award.
  6. All candidates are reviewed by the Professional Development Committee (PDC) of the NATA.
  7. The award will be presented at the subsequent NATA Clinical Symposia and AT Expo.



Past Professional Development Excellence Award recipients 

Please click on a name or year (if available) to view past Award Recipients:

2019 - Stacy E. Walker, PhD, ATC, FNATA
2018 - Erik Swartz, PhD, ATC, FNATA
2017 - James Scifers, DScPT, ATC, LAT and Lindsey Eberman, PhD, ATC
2016 - N/A
2015 - John Hauth, EdD, LAT, ATC

Dr. Malissa Martin hails from a rural German community in Southern Ill. She attended Indiana State University on an athletic scholarship where she graduated with a degree in Health Education and Athletic Training. Wanting a southern experience, Dr. Martin was awarded a graduate assistantship with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks where she completed both her MEd, and doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a post-graduate certificate in alcohol and drug studies.While at South Carolina, Dr. Martin served as the athletic trainer for the women’s sports program and program director of the athletic training education program. Since her professional career beginnings Dr. Martin has served in the athletic training education program director position at Middle Tennessee State University and the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, OH. She matriculated to Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah where she redesigned the doctoral degree in athletic training and provided programs for teaching effectiveness and assessment serving as an Associate Vice- Provost.

Throughout Dr. Martin’s illustrious career she has provided continuing education/professional development for athletic trainers, physicians, sport coaches/administrators and students throughout the lifespan and in various formats. To her credit she has over 100 publications, has authored several books and is a nationally known presenter with over 200 presentations including live and online formats. Historically, Dr. Martin developed the first home study programs in athletic training along with chairing the Inaugural NATA Athletic Training Educators’ Conference where she has been a key presenter since 1996. She also has played a major role in providing sport first aid training to coaches across the country and consulting for various college athletic departments in the area of female athlete health and working with today’s college student-athlete.

Dr. Martin was named the 2011 NATA Sayers “Bud” Miller Distinguished Educator. She has also received education honors in the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers’ Association, Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association and the 2010 Rocky Mountain University Hartgrave’s Teaching Excellence Award. She designed and administered one of the first post graduate certificate programs in “Learning Design in Higher Education” which is an online program preparing health care clinicians for faculty roles in higher education. Dr. Martin has provided professional development opportunities to virtually all populations associated with the athletic training professions. Currently Dr. Martin is an Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Assessment and serves as a Co-Graduate Program Director for the DSc in Health Sciences (Athletic Training) at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

Dr. Rehberg is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Athletic Training Clinical Education at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. He is also a partner of The Rehberg Konin Group, LLC, serves as Executive Director of Sport Safety International, and is a staff member at the Center for Concussion Care and Physical Rehabilitation at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ. Dr. Rehberg previously served as the Director and Chief of Emergency Services at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, and spent 13 years as the head athletic trainer at Westwood Regional High School in Westwood, New Jersey.

A graduate of West Chester University (B.S.), the United States Sports Academy (M.S.S.) and Touro University International (Ph.D.), Dr. Rehberg has spent his career working in both the athletic training and emergency services fields and has published and spoken frequently at state and national meetings on sports emergency care, spinal injuries in sports, and concussion management.

Dr. Rehberg served as a member of the medical staff for athletics at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been active on both state and national levels, having served on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Inter-Association Task Force for the Appropriate Care of the Spine-Injured Athlete, the Task Force on Appropriate Medical Coverage for the Secondary School-Aged Athlete, the NATA Hall of Fame Subcommittee, and several other committees at the state level. Dr. Rehberg has also served as the Chair of the National Safety Council Emergency Care Advisory Committee since 1992 and was a member of the American Heart Association Task Force that developed the first-ever international guidelines for first aid in 2000. He was a charter member of the New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

Dr. Rehberg currently serves on the NATA Foundation Board of Directors, as Treasurer of the Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association, and is a Trustee of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. He is a past-president of the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey, and a member of the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey Hall of Fame. He is also the recipient of the NATA Service Award.

Kris is a graduate of California State University Long Beach and Chapman University. She currently serves as Chair of the NATA Convention Program Committee and has served on the committee in other capacities for the past eight years. She has also chaired the NATA Continuing Education Committee as well as, served on many other NATA and FWATA committees, project teams and task forces. Kris has organized and served as presenter for numerous NATA workshops and annual symposiums. She has been the recipient of many NATA and FWATA awards including, Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer, recognizing her contributions to the athletic training profession. Kris currently serves as Assistant Director of Physical Therapy for Orthopaedic Specialty Institute in Orange, California and serves as adjunct faculty for Chapman University.

John is currently an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University. Half of his time is spent teaching in Penn State’s Undergraduate Athletic Training Education Program and the other half working as a physical therapist at Penn State Orthopedics Physical Therapy and as a rehabilitation specialist with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. His clinical interests include manual therapy and the treatment of spinal dysfunction. He has pursued extensive continuing education in these areas and has presented nationally and internationally on these subjects.

John received his B.S degree in Health and Physical Education and his PhD in Kinesiology from Penn State University. He also received an MA degree in Physical Therapy from Stanford University. He was in the undergraduate athletic training program while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Penn State.

His professional experiences include being an assistant athletic trainer with the San Francisco Forty-Niners and being selected as the AT for the US Freestyle Ski Team at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France. He also owned an outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinic in Seattle for 10 years before returning to Penn State to pursue his PhD.

He has been a member of the NATA Continuing Education Committee and the NATA Convention Program Committee. The Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society presented him with its Distinguished Alumni Award for 2013.

Laura C. Decoster, ATC is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. She is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing knowledge and care in musculoskeletal and sports medicine. NHMI runs the longest-standing post-professional education program for athletic trainers (NHMI’s Integrated Clinical Sports Medicine Residency) and provides continuing education for musculoskeletal health care professionals. Laura is an active researcher with more than 25 peer-reviewed publications primarily in the area of emergency management of football equipment. Laura has also contributed to the field of athletic training on local and regional levels including stints on the NHATA executive committee, the EATA research committee and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the NH Council on Sport-Related Concussion. In her NHMI role, she oversees sports medicine coverage for ten New Hampshire high schools.

Valerie Herzog, EdD, LAT, ATC, serves as the Graduate Athletic Training Program Director at Weber State University in Ogden, UT, and has worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer for 17 years. In 2005, she was awarded Athletic Trainer of the Year in WV. She has served on the Board of Certification Board of Directors. She completed her bachelors degree in Athletic Training at Alderson-Broaddus College (WV), her masters degree in Athletic Training at the University of Virginia, and her doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at Marshall University (WV).

She has served with conference development on the state, district, and national levels. She chaired the committees responsible for planning the educational program for the Utah Athletic Trainers’ Association and Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers’ Association for several years each. She serves on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Convention Program Committee, where she is responsible for planning and coordinating the Special Topics Presentations (formerly known as workshops) as well as the Peer-to-Peer Discussions. In addition, she serves on the Board of Certification Athletic Training Regulatory Conference Advisory Panel.

Dr. Herzog has also published several manuscripts and given several presentations at state, district, and national Athletic Training Conferences on topics including Pain Theories, the Pregnant Athlete, Leadership, Interview Skills, and Resume Preparation.

Jeff Konin, PhD, ATC, PT is an Associate Professor and the Vice Chair of Sports Medicine in the Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, where he also serves as the Executive Director for the Sports Medicine & Athletic Related Trauma (SMART) Institute, a component of USF Health.

Dr. Konin earned a PhD degree in physical therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and a master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Delaware. He holds a master’s degree in education specializing in athletic training and sports medicine from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and bachelor’s degree in health & physical education from Eastern Connecticut State University.

Prior to joining USF Health, Dr. Konin was a tenured associate professor and the Director of Sports Medicine at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He also held positions at Delaware Tech as an instructor and head athletic trainer in Georgetown, Delaware, as well as a clinical athletic trainer for Health South Sports Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Konin has been a frequent invited guest speaker, presenting on various sports medicine topics throughout the United States and internationally in Italy, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. He has also spoken at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposium, The NATA Educator’s Conference, the American Physical Therapy Associations Combined Sections Meetings, at NATA State & District Meetings, and APTA State component meetings in Florida, Oregon, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and New York. He has given numerous one and two-day continuing education seminars to healthcare professionals on topics ranging from youth sports injuries to the evaluation and treatment intervention of orthopaedic conditions.

Dr. Konin’s written textbooks have included Clinical Athletic Training, Special Tests for Orthopedic Examination (3 editions, translations in Spanish & Korean), Practical Kinesiology for the Physical Therapist Assistant (translation in Portugese), Reimbursement for Athletic Trainers, Documentation for Athletic Training, and Behind the Scenes as a Team Physician.. He has also served as the series editor for CD-ROM’s titled Goniometry, Gait Analysis, and Manual Muscle Testing.

Dr. Konin has been the recipient of numerous awards, for his teaching, advising, and leadership roles. In 2003, he was named the Distinguished Alumnus from Eastern Connecticut State University. In 2008, along with the Continuing Education Excellence Award. Dr. Konin was recognized with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association recognized Service Award for his professional achievements.

Mr. Barker is Head Athletic Trainer at California State University, Chico where he also serves as instructor in the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science. His creative works in the area of technology have been instrumental in the development of the virtual learning environment for athletic trainers. He has designed several interactive multimedia software programs which have contributed to the continuing education of the athletic training profession. He also designed an interactive multimedia software program for the Far West Athletic Trainers’ Association Students’ “Jeopardy Challenge.” In addition, Mr. Barker was instrumental in creating the conceptual framework for NATAs Virtual Library on-line continuing education center, as well as designed the software for the initial courses and quizzes.

Mr. Barker has also authored several articles related to eLearning and Athletic Training. He has served on several district and national committees and has presented nationally on subjects related to educational multimedia.

Mr. Barker has been honored by NATAs Educational Multimedia Committee for Educational Software Production on five occasions. In 2005 he was named College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Far West Athletic Trainers’ Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Arizona.


Dr. Houglum is an assistant Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She served on NATA’s Professional Education Committee for 10 years during which time she organized and hosted all of NATA’s continuing education workshops, including collaborative efforts with the APTA and the USOC. Dr. Houglum served as chair of the Continuing Education Committee from its inception in 1997 through two full terms, stepping down in 2005. During her tenure, new venues of the delivery of continuing education were developed, increasing both the depth and breadth of the content being offered.

Dr. Houglum has authored textbooks including Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries and Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries, as well as chapters in Athletic Training and Sports Medicine. She serves as Clinical Applications Editor of the Journal of Athletic Training and on the editorial board of the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. Dr. Houglum is a highly sought after lecturer who has made countless presentations internationally, nationally and regionally.

Dr. Houglum was named to the NATA Hall of Fame in 2002, and received NATA’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 1996. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Minnesota, master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State University, and her PhD in sports medicine from the University of Virginia.


Dr. Stanley Herring received his medical degree from the University of Texas, Health Center at Dallas, Southwestern Medical School. For over 15 years he has specialized in spine care at Puget Sound Sports and Spine Physicians in Seattle, Washington. He has served as Team Physician for the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington, as well as, consultant for the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco Forty Niners and the University of Washington Sports Medicine Programs.

Dr. Herring has authored numerous textbooks, chapters and journal articles relating to the physiology of injury, spine care and the athlete, and team physician preparedness. He has been a member of several editorial boards including The Physician and Sports Medicine, Medicine and Science in Sports, Exercise and Current Sports Medicine Reports and The Spine Journal. Dr. Herring has served as a Board Member for the American College of Sports Medicine as well as chair for their Task Force on Clinical Sports Medicine Leadership. He also served on the Spine in Sports Medicine Task Force - North American Spine Society. He contributed to the monograph: Prehospital Care of the Spine Injured Athlete: A Document from the Inter-Association Task Force for Appropriate Care of the Spine Injured Athlete.

Dr. Herring is a well sought after speaker who has given numerous presentations in the athletic training arena. He was instrumental in bringing a yearly session of the North American Spine Society (NASS) to the NATA Annual Symposium. He has also served as President of the NASS.

Dr. Herring received Honorary Membership into the NATA in 2005 and the Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine in 2004. He also received the Distinguished Clinician Award in 1999 from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1977 from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of the New Jersey Medical School.