Hall of Fame: Dreams for the Future

May 1, 2019 by Beth Sitzler

The May NATA News includes profiles on the seven members who will be inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame during the 70th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo this June in Las Vegas. Get a deeper look at where these inductees hope the profession goes and the tips they have for the future generations of ATs.

For more wise words from this year’s award winners, follow #NATAinspirATion on social media throughout May.


What is your hope for the future of the athletic training profession?

Pat Aronson, PhD, LAT, LPTA, ATC: I would like to see our profession enhanced so students flood the education programs, fall in love with the profession and make it better for the next generation of athletic trainers.

David Csillan, MS, LAT, ATC: When I entered the profession, athletic trainers were only found in the professional, collegiate and secondary school setting, defined as the “traditional” setting. Athletic injuries were managed with cookbook treatment routines, white tape and elastic wrap. Fast forwarding to the modern day, we are recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health care profession. Federal and state legislation have provided us with specific administrative codes that clearly define our scope of practice. Insurance companies have begun to assign us CPT codes. Our ability to practice has expanded to settings in health care administration, the military, occupational health, performing arts, physician offices and public safety. Health care is ever changing and we don’t know what we don’t know. However, with our focus on evidence-based practice, I see our current students and young professionals guiding us as the premier leader not only in athletic health care, but also health care for the general population.

Christopher D. Ingersoll, PhD, AT, ATC, FACSM, FNATA, FASAHP: That all people who could benefit from the services of athletic trainers are able to access our services.

Timothy L. Neal, MS, AT, ATC, CCISM: A student athlete I cared for at Syracuse University who is a former Navy SEAL, Commander Rorke Denver (U.S. Navy Ret.), uses a phrase that rings true to me: ever onward. It is derived from the Latin phrase, ad maiora. In life, and in professional evolutions, there are going to be moments of discomfort, challenge and uncertainty. However, there are also many more moments of deep satisfaction, collaboration and contribution toward the future – be it in mentoring the next generation of athletic trainers or developing the next concept to benefit patients and athletes’ well-being. In essence, no matter the challenge or success a person or a profession experiences, look to the future and move ever onward toward the next opportunity or problem to overcome. The profession will continue to grow as long as its members are dedicated to making future contributions. I only hope that, in some way, I have made my contribution to help the athletic training profession move ever onward towards greater things.

Gretchen Ann Schlabach, PhD, ATC: I hope the profession continues the conversation about professional values and professional responsibility, specifically our legal, ethical and regulatory obligations in the delivery of patient-centered care. I am very excited about what tomorrow will bring.

Scott Ray Sailor, EdD, ATC: We have been working hard to gain the appreciation of the world for the important role we play in health care. Thanks to the work of so many, we have come a long way. The most important thing for me is not really that parents or the media understand what we do as athletic trainers. It is my hope that the health care community continues see the incredible skills and knowledge we bring and start to consistently see us as contributors and collaborators in health care rather than competitors.

Charles Vosler, AT Ret.: It is my hope that members continue their passion and responsiveness for our profession and that the profession’s leadership be responsive to the needs of the membership and continued upgrades in educational requirements regarding management skills. NATA recognizes the elevation of sport activities at the secondary and high school levels and, yet, there has been no evidence that those institutional boards are providing adequate medical supervision for their athletes, NATA must find ways to encourage these boards that they must develop resources to hire athletic trainers to prevent catastrophic events. It is imperative that NATA increase dialogue with state legislative branches and state education departments to encourage medical supervision and coverage through state requirements and laws.


What advice would you give to young athletic trainers just starting out in the profession?

Pat Aronson, PhD, LAT, LPTA, ATC: For students: Sit in the front of the class; what is in front of you is more important than what is behind you. For young professionals: Work hard, mind the details and mind the gaps, reflect and evaluate and grow. Find great teammates who provide advice, constructive criticism, encouragement and praise, make you a better professional and person and, above all, a great teammate. Also, take full responsibility for damages made by your mistakes. By taking full responsibility for your mistakes, you decrease the risk of repeating the same mistake.

They say we never die regretting not having worked longer hours. But in my life, I have gotten the most satisfaction out of working hard until the job is complete, and I have done my very best. I have really enjoyed being part of successful teams.

David Csillan, MS, LAT, ATC: The athletic training profession is the largest intimate group I know. Athletic trainers are one degree of separation from knowing any athletic trainer in the country. When attending professional meetings, introduce yourself to five new athletic trainers. Over the course of your career, whether during a job search or volunteering on a state, district or national committee, I guarantee your path will cross again with many of these individuals.

Christopher D. Ingersoll, PhD, AT, ATC, FACSM, FNATA, FASAHP: Surround yourself with exceptional people. Seek and offer assistance. Do as much good as you can. Never settle.

Timothy L. Neal, MS, AT, ATC, CCISM: My advice is what I preach each day to athletic training students at Concordia University Ann Arbor: dedication to continuous improvement to meet the holistic care of the patient. This means fidelity to the commitment of growing your body of knowledge, awareness of the psychological impact of life and injury that must be addressed to fully provide care in a compassionate manner and practicing ethically to fulfill the social contract the athletic training profession has with the public in the provision of our services. Give your all in taking care of other people’s loved ones; bring your “A” game each day, all day. Hold yourself and those with whom you work with to the highest standard of care. People entrust the well-being of their child, parent or spouse to you; earn that trust by, not only fulfilling, but also exceeding, the obligations and responsibilities of that care.

Gretchen Ann Schlabach, PhD, ATC: To the newly credentialed athletic trainer, I’d advise them to be mindful that here is so much to learn relative to providing quality patient-centered care. Find those gaps in AT clinical practice and/or find those gaps in the AT literature. Consider the possibilities to fill those gaps. You can make a difference if you dare to dream. Be the change you want to see in in athletic training.

Scott Ray Sailor, EdD, ATC: I started my career trying to be all things to all people. Often, this involved me trying to solve problems for people that were outside of my responsibilities as an athletic trainer. I was trying to please people. Eventually, colleagues helped me realize what was most important was for me to do the best I could for my patients and my students. If this meant I was not able to be in two places at one time and keep two coaches happy at one time, then that was going to have to be alright. I often avoided these situations early in my career, but later came to realize these conflicts often resulted in positive changes down the road, such as obtaining more staff.

Charles Vosler, AT Ret: My advice to a young athletic trainer is to get involved. That starts with their university/college. It is important to have continued interaction with administration, their mentors and classmates. If there are opportunities to get on student committees, do it. As a young athletic trainer following graduation, get involved with your state and national organizations committees, meetings and seminars. Seek personal meetings with athletic trainers in your state to establish a rapport for further advice and recommendations.