Five Reflections on the Profession From Eddie Lane

March 5, 2024 by Kristin Carroll
Title reads 75 Things to Know About Convention. Subhead 5 reflections from eddie lane.

As we get ready for convention, NATA Now is looking back at convention history as well as what to know about NATA 2024. The 75th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, June 25-28 in New Orleans, is approaching – and registration is now open.

Eddie Lane, AT Ret., is, by his count, one of two members still living who attended the first NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in 1950. Since that initial gathering of around 200 ATs at Hotel Muehlebach in Kansas City, Missouri, the athletic training profession has grown in countless ways. Lane, who said he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon, reflected on five changes he’s seen over the years.

A man in a green jacket smiles at the camera.

Eddie Lane, AT Ret., at the 2015 NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo


1. Number of ATs and the Quality of Their Education

“NATA is too damn big,” Lane said jokingly. “Seriously, since 1950, the education and the quality of the athletic trainers has grown, along with the numbers.”

Lane joined NATA as an associate member in 1949. He received his degree in 1954 following a stint in the Army. In 1970, when NATA introduced the certification exam – now given by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer – he took the test and became a certified athletic trainer.

Lane said the creation of the BOC and the certification exam have had the biggest impact on the profession, with the profession now including more than 58,300 certified ATs, according to the BOC.

“I received on-the-job education,” he said. “ATs graduating today have so much more education than I did. They know more than me.”


2. More Women Have Joined the Profession

The athletic trainers who attended the 1950 convention were all men. Sherry Kosek Babagian, AT Ret., was the first female NATA member, joining in 1966. She was also the first woman to sit the certification exam in 1972. Today, women make up 55% of NATA membership.

“There were female athletic trainers out there, but they were mostly part time,” Lane said. “I hired one in the 1960s as an apprentice for a full-time position. I wanted her there! Today there’s a high school down the road from me here in Texas where the entire athletic training staff is women.”


3. There are 11 Districts

In 2021, District Four was split into two districts, adding District Eleven. Lane reflected on this as part of the growth of the profession.

“NATA got its start in the Midwest,” he said. “The numbers have always been stronger there. District Four got so big we had to add another. That’s wonderful, but also crazy to me.”


4. Convention Was a Family Affair

When Lane started attending convention, his wife and children would come along. Lane said that early conventions had activities for children and spouses while their AT attended education sessions.

“The national meeting back into the ’50s, and into the ’60s, somewhat, was a very family-oriented thing,” Lane told NATA Now in 2015. “It was the only way we could afford to take our wives on vacation. The school paid for it. Right along with that, because of national meetings, from the time I got married in ’58 until my kids were out of high school, our son and our daughter had managed to be in 42 different states before they graduated from high school because of the national meeting. My children still have friendships with the young people that they met in those national meetings.”


5. There’s a Full-Time Executive Director

Current NATA Executive Director Dave Saddler is the fourth full-time executive director in NATA’s history. Otho Davis, former head athletic trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles, served in the position from 1971 until his retirement in 1990. Alan Smith took over until 1992. Eve Becker-Doyle served until 2013, when Saddler assumed the position.

“Otho Davis was a volunteer leader on the board of directors,” Lane said. “We saw the need for someone to oversee operations as the association grew. Davis was tapped for that position.”