From Injury to Opportunity

June 17, 2024 by Lydia Hicks
Photo of Emily Clark, From Injury to Opportunity, Pride Month 2024

To commemorate Pride Month in June, NATA Now is highlighting student members who serve on their state, district or national LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee and sharing insight into their impact on the profession.

A shoulder injury that cost Emily Clark, MAT, her high school athletic career gave her a new beginning in athletic training.

Clark said she has her high school athletic trainers, who rehabilitated her shoulder, to thank for that.
“These individuals not only introduced me to the profession of athletic training but inspired me to pursue my career in athletic training,” she said.

Newly graduated with a Master of Athletic Training from Arkansas State University, Clark works as a physician extender resident in the clinical setting at Ochsner Hospital. She also serves as the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee student representative.

Below, she shares the value of serving the profession and LGBTQIA+ community.

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

My first volunteer position was working as an athletic training student aide with my high school. I decided to get involved to learn more about the profession, prior to attending college, to be fully immersed in the everyday life of a high school athletic trainer.

Tell us about your current position as the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee student representative and what you hope to accomplish in this role.

I am only the second student ever to participate in this role and I am to spread awareness to other students not only about the LGBTQIA+ community, but also the student roles available to get involved with and how that translates into committee work as a practicing clinician.

Why is representation in leadership important and how does it impact the profession?
Representation in leadership allows individuals to see growth within the profession and within themselves. Taking the first step to represent the LGBTQIA+ community can be intimidating for individuals, but having representative leaders makes this process less intimidating and more exciting for those who are a part of the community.

How has volunteering helped you grow personally and professionally?

Absolutely! Volunteering has connected me to people within the profession I would have never met prior. Throwing myself into volunteering as a student has allowed me to develop my interpersonal communication skills with my colleagues as student, versus learning those skills fresh out of school.

What’s your fondest memory of serving so far?

Connecting with other student representatives at the SWATA conventions. It’s amazing to meet other students who have the passion to grow our profession.

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

Get involved with volunteering! It’s as simple as offering to help check in at a convention or stuff bags for a booth. Being involved brings you more rewarding relationships than you can imagine.