NATA Welcomes New District Directors

June 28, 2018 by Beth Sitzler

Photo caption: New District Directors Craig Voll Jr., PhD, LAT, ATC, District Four; Lyn Nakagawa, MS, ATC, CSCS, District Eight; Diane Sartanowicz, MS, LAT, ATC, District One; and David Gallegos, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT, District Seven.


The upcoming July NATA News features a Q&A with NATA’s four new district directors: Diane Sartanowicz, MS, LAT, ATC, District One; Craig Voll Jr., PhD, LAT, ATC, District Four; David Gallegos, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT, District Seven; and Lyn Nakagawa, MS, ATC, CSCS, District Eight. Each new director brings with them a unique perspective, individual talents and a drive to serve the NATA membership and the athletic training profession at large. Learn more about your new district directors by reading a continuation of their NATA News Q&A:


Why did you want to join the NATA Board of Directors?

Diane Sartanowicz: I wanted to join the NATA Board of Directors to make an impact on the profession of athletic training. Service and giving back are important to me both as a person and as a professional. Not only do I want to serve the members of District One, but also the profession as a whole. Being on the NATA Board of Directors allows me the opportunity to bring member questions and concerns to the national level. It is a privilege to represent our profession with such a talented group and I embrace the challenge.

Craig Voll Jr.: I want to say, first and foremost, that it is both an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve this association. One of the reasons why is the membership; I have met so many great athletic trainers from across the country during my years of service. Muhamad Ali is quoted as saying, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth!” NATA has a rich history of cultivating outstanding and dedicated leaders who have gone on to do great things at the state, district and national levels. I believe we have the potential to continue moving this association forward as one of the preeminent allied health care membership organization in the country. Over the years, as a profession, we have overcome many obstacles and achieved major accomplishments, but we need to continually forge ahead as many challenges are looming in the years to come. It is the responsibility of the persons elected by the membership as district directors to be focused on that future. I, for one, know I am up for that challenge!

David Gallegos: I joined the BOD as an elected official to offer my service and suggestions to the direction of NATA and the profession in general. I am passionate about the success the AT profession has provided me and many I know, and am even more driven to see the potential success still yet to come. I believe I can offer a business and entrepreneurial perspective, and can provide examples and ideas of how those principles affect practice advancement within traditional settings as well as settings in development. I am most excited to offer direction on developing the value of the individual AT that can be applied to all practice settings and new ideas in health care delivery, education and medically oriented fitness.

Lyn Nakagawa: Honestly, this is not something I saw myself doing when I was a young professional wanting to get involved. What started as volunteering to be on an NATA committee has evolved into a passion to serve and the desire to give back to the profession that I truly love. Joining the NATA Board of Directors not only provides me the opportunity to represent athletic trainers in Hawaii and in District Eight, but allows me to serve athletic trainers across the country and the association nationally.


Who has influenced and mentored you in your career?

DS: The people who have had the biggest influence on my career have been my parents. They were both teachers, and I followed in their footsteps becoming a physical education and health teacher at the secondary school level. I always knew I wanted to pursue a teaching degree, so I was fortunate to combine teaching and athletic training into my career. I have had the pleasure of meeting William “Doc” Linskey and Kerkor “Koko” Kassabian – two of the best mentors in our profession from Massachusetts. They peaked my interest in athletic training. From there, I had several other mentors who have had a influence on my career, from Charlie Thompson during my undergraduate studies to Ken Knight and Robert Behnke during my master’s program.

CV: I would say that as I look back on my career, the biggest blessing I have had is the people who have mentored me, guided me and placed me on their shoulders throughout my career. Whether it was when I was cutting my teeth as a student, learning what it meant to be a professional or when I first started to become active within the association, I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career to have been taught and mentored by some very special people. Many of those people are NATA Hall of Fame members. In fact, my first four athletic training bosses were all Hall of Famers. In order, they were: Bob Gray, Bill Tessendorf, Denny Miller and Larry Leverenz. Hall of Famer Katie Grove also had a profound influence on my career. Whether it was while serving in Indiana or GLATA, she has challenged me throughout my time in leadership to make sure that our association leadership accurately reflects the demographics of our membership. Someone who has had a profound influence on my career is actually someone I never met in person. In fact, he passed away the same year I began as a student athletic trainer at Eastern Michigan University. That person was Hall of Famer William E “Pinky” Newell.

DG: There are way too many mentors in my career to identify just a few. Parents, family, friends, teachers, colleagues, fellow professionals, educators, communities, etc., are all in mind. The list keeps going. I think the comment I can offer is that everyone can be a mentor and it is important to always have them. Even my least favorite coach has been a mentor in many ways and taught me perseverance, to look for third alternatives and a do not give up mentality. They say if you want to be successful in anything you do, you should have a coach. I believe this.

LN: I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by mentors and colleagues who shaped me and encouraged me to grow as an individual and athletic trainer. As a student, Zeke Schuldt took a chance on a quiet, shy girl and gave me the opportunity to work in his athletic training facility. His passion and drive was admirable and it propelled me into the world of athletic training as a young professional. As my career continued, the opportunity to work with Barney and Deb Graff solidified my passion for the profession and helped me gain a vision for my future and career. They were mentors, but more importantly, became colleagues and friends I truly admired. I currently work with Eric Okasaki, who constantly encourages me to grow both personally and professionally. I believe that learning is a lifelong process and we continue to be influenced by those around us and who we work with.


What advice would you give to young athletic trainers new to the profession?

DS: Make the most of every opportunity you are given and learn to create your own! Get involved and stay involved, whether with your work setting or your state association. Introduce yourself to board members, committee chairs, hall of fame members. They all have a wealth of knowledge that will help you learn and grow in this profession. It truly is an exciting time to be an athletic trainer, so make the most of it. Your involvement on an individual level will make an impact on the profession as a whole.

CV: When I first started my career, I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but as I have aged and matured, I now can say that I am more afraid of succeeding at things that really don’t matter. At this stage of my life, I have come to realize that family is what matters most. While you may love your job, only your family can truly love you back. Therefore, never lose sight of big picture. I also hope you all take solace in the fact that although you might not realize it, you have an impact on the lives of the people you deal with on a daily basis in ways you may never truly understand.

DG: To our young professionals, I would offer a suggestion a physical education professor offered me 25 years ago that has consistently proven correct: 1) Be the best you can be in your chosen profession; 2) Be aware of the environment and world around you and how it impacts you and you it; and 3) Always improve your communications skills. These are tenants I live by and use to guide decisions.

LN: I always tell students and young professionals that it is important to never stop learning and to find your passion. The moment you become stagnant as an athletic trainer is when you become obsolete. We are in a profession that is constantly changing with new technologies and techniques, so you must continue to learn and evolve to improve yourself as a clinician. You must also find your passion. We are not all going to be experts in every aspect of athletic training. You need to find your niche, find what excites you and develop that into your strength. Finding your passion will be vital to the longevity of your career in this awesome profession of athletic training.