From Peers to Partners

December 20, 2023 by Lydia Hicks

Athletic training is a profession built on relationships. Just as important as the relationships ATs build with their patients are the ones they build with each other. NATA is often a conduit for these relationships, providing members with opportunities for collaboration, connection and a sense of belonging. This Be NATA blog series will highlight various AT relationships and the role NATA played in these connections.

For Allison Strickland, PhD, LAT, ATC, and Joey Strickland, AT Ret., the NATA Career Center not only connected them with their graduate assistant positions, but also to each other.

“Without the NATA Career Center job posting, we probably would have never ended up in the same place and met each other,” Allison said. “I wasn't sure I wanted to be a GA and I definitely wasn't looking to move to Texas, but the GA position was the best fit for me.” 

Allison and Joey met while interviewing for GA positions at Trinity Mother Francis Hospital System (now CHRISTUS Mother Francis Hospital) in 2010.

After several texts, a friendship and AT graduate assistant social gatherings, they went on their first date.

“July 2010, I took Allison to Carino's for dinner and then we went and saw ‘Inception’,” Joey said.

Not only did the NATA Career Center bring these two together, involvement at the state and district level has also fueled their relationship.

“We attend state and district events together,” Allison said. “Now that we have kids, those trips are almost like a little vacation.”

The Beautiful Balance

Allison said she knew Joey was the one for her when he took the risk of moving back up north to St. Charles, Illinois, with her. Joey said he also knew quickly that Allison was the one he wanted to marry.

“We got along really well, and our personalities seemed to fit together,” he said. “I proposed to her in front of the Christmas tree at her childhood home on the Christmas Eve of 2012 and we married in 2014.”

Since getting married and welcoming two children, the Stricklands’ family life and AT careers in the clinical, emerging and non-profit settings have been well-balanced, the couple said.

“Our regular schedules allowed us to work per diem for a physical therapy company in Iowa, which was good for us financially when we were first starting out,” Joey said. “We did that until the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the kids are older, we don't do per diem any longer since we're doing activities a few nights a week.”

“Joey was a huge support to me the last three years while I finished my PhD,” Allison said. “Having jobs with traditional hours, both of which are now fully remote, has helped us find balance as well.”

Making Connections

During her 13 years as an AT, Allison has worked in both emerging and traditional settings, served the profession as secretary of the Illinois Athletic Trainers' Association, is currently the NATA Professional Responsibility in Athletic Training Committee District Five representative and serves on the Iowa Athletic Trainers' Society Communications Committee. Joey, who worked on the medical office staff at Steindler Orthopedic Clinic and with his wife on different occasions, is now retired from athletic training.

“Even though I'm no longer in the AT world, it's still important to keep my connections,” Joey said. “They help Allison and her business, and since my brother-in-law and his wife are also ATs, it helps them, too. Corporate life has taught me how important connections are throughout your career.”

Allison said making connections with other ATs and sports medicine leaders is paramount to success in the profession.

“Keep in touch with your former classmates and co-workers,” she said. “You never know when you'll need to lean on them for support. For younger professionals and students, go out of your way to make connections with leadership. They are typically the gatekeepers and have a good pulse on who might be a good contact for you in the future.”

Joey said that interacting with other athletic trainers also helps to bolster ATs’ compensation self-advocacy efforts.

“We've helped two other ATs pivot into new careers within the company we both worked at because they needed more work-life balance and saw how Allison and I were doing it,” he said. 



No matter your setting, you have a home within NATA. Your membership opens the door to problem-solving resources and connects you to our global athletic training community. Be NATA and join or renew your NATA membership by Dec. 31. Don’t let finances get in the way of membership. Contact Member Services through email or by calling 972-532-8897 to learn more about how we can help.