Representing Acceptance

June 10, 2024 by Lydia Hicks

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 dancer for 15 years, Gray Badger, CPT, was injured many times, especially while attending a performing arts secondary school.

Badger’s injuries didn’t stop them from completing their high school dance career, thanks to their athletic trainer.

“The AT who helped me finish my high school dance career and helped me with my numerous injuries made an impact in my life and made me want to work with and help athletes in the same way I was helped,” Badger said.

Now an athletic training student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Badger is serves as the NATA LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee District Nine student representative.

Keep reading to learn more about Badger’s volunteer experience and why representation in leadership is important to them.

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

My first volunteer position was at a local high school in Bowling Green, Kentucky, while I was completing my bachelor’s degree in exercise science. I wanted to get some experience in the field before I started applying anywhere for graduate school to make sure it was really what I wanted to do. 

Tell us about your current position as the NATA LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee District Nine student representative and what you hope to accomplish in this role.

I hope to spread the awareness to other ATs and AT students that LGBTQIA+ individuals have a place in athletic training as well. I also hope to represent what that can look like as a nonbinary, queer individual.

Why is representation in leadership important and how does it impact the profession?

Representation shows that this profession is one of acceptance and inclusion and that you don’t have to fit a certain image just to become an AT. Providing a practical environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the profession can also help reassure athletes that the profession accepts and supports them.

How has volunteering helped you grow personally and professionally? 

Volunteering has helped me practice more of my hands-on skills and learn some new and/or different ways of helping athletes. It has also helped me bring a different, if not improved, approach to treating patients. Volunteering has also helped me learn more about sports and enabled me to experience different cultures associated with each, helping expand my ideas and views. 

What’s your fondest memory of serving so far?

I think my favorite memory so far is when I helped at the last IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga triathlon, and got to serve a lot of patients, most of whom were in need of Zofran, salt or sugar of some kind. Also, I liked getting to see the quick turnaround on helping the athletes return to their normal lives. It was especially funny to have some of them ask if they could just pour salt into their mouths from the carton. 

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

Volunteer and have an open mind. I feel like there’s always going to be a need for an extra hand here or there. Volunteering, even when it’s with a sport or population one isn’t used to, gives a lot of insight into different sports and different ways of doing tons as an AT that can be applied later.