Given to Education and Research

May 15, 2024 by Lydia Hicks
Photo of Naoko Giblin, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May, NATA Now is highlighting some of our Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders at the state, district and national levels.

Naoko Giblin, PhD, LAT, ATC, came into the athletic training profession with a desire to serve people.

“I wanted to become an athletic trainer because I wanted to contribute to other people’s success, especially in sports,” Giblin said.

Not only did Giblin want to help people perform at their best, she said she was also drawn to the pace at which ATs treated their patients.

“[The] quickness of decision making was very exciting to me,” she said.

Giblin now teaches athletic training students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as an associate professor. Beyond the workplace, she also gives back to the profession at the state level with the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers’ Association and the international level with the Japan Athletic Trainers’ Organization.

Below, she delves into her volunteer beginnings and the impact she’s had on professional development and research in athletic training.

What was your first volunteer position within the athletic training profession and why did you get involved?

It took me a while to volunteer in athletic training, mainly because I thought I wasn’t skilled enough to serve on committees. During my first year as a professor, I was asked to moderate a session at the NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo. That was my first volunteer experience. Since then, I have served as a moderator several times, and have served and chaired in the state association’s research committee. Again, I was very timid about volunteering, but someone else thought I was knowledgeable and competent enough to do these tasks. So, that’s the main reason I got involved. I continue to serve now because it’s a great way to connect with fellow athletic trainers and students.

Tell us about your current position as the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Outcomes Committee coordinator and what you hope to accomplish in this role.

My main responsibility is to review proposals for research grants, and abstracts submitted by students and certified members for free communication sessions at the WATA’s annual meeting. I also coordinate the committee members and ad hoc certified members to score students’ poster presentations for the student poster presentations contest during the annual meeting. I submit regular reports to the WATA Board of Directors regarding the committee’s activities and accomplishments.

The goal of the WATA Research and Outcomes Committee is to promote athletic training-related research in Wisconsin. With that, I strive to celebrate research efforts and pursuits from all members, regardless of their status (students, certified, etc.), by sharing their work and providing funding for their work.

Why is representation in leadership important and how does it impact the profession?
I think it’s important because it shows that anyone can volunteer and contribute to the profession. Leadership personnel don’t need to be the most famous, most skilled, richest people. So, the more variety of people serving in leadership roles, the better reflection of the organization/profession supporting all who are involved. Greater representation in leadership ultimately makes the profession stronger, because greater advocacy from leadership for all individuals gives people more drive to contribute to the profession.

How has volunteering helped you grow personally and professionally?

Personally, it has helped me gain more confidence and leadership skills. It has also helped me connect with other researchers/colleagues in the state, which has helped me professionally as an educator and researcher.

Professionally, it has helped me contribute to reemphasizing the importance of research and scholarship in our state. It has helped me understand the innerworkings of the state, national and international associations that hopefully would lead to enhancing the associations and whole AT profession.

What’s your fondest memory of serving so far?

Seeing students engaging confidently with certified members who provide insights gained from their scholarly work.

What advice do you have for other athletic trainers who want to give back to the profession? 

Don’t be afraid to sign up. Any seemingly small role you can devote your time to is a significant investment that strengthens you, your community and the profession.