This award recognizes exceptional work aimed to improve knowledge and education in the realm of preventing sudden death in sport.
Stephanie Kuzydym is a journalist who reported the investigative series “Safer Sidelines,” published on April 18, 2023, which took a seven-month look into the broken system of providing life-saving care on high school sidelines across America. Kuzydym is a sports enterprise reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Previous to her return to newspapers, she worked in broadcast journalism, including four years as a special projects and investigative producer at Local 12 (WKRC-TV) in Cincinnati. Along with her unit photographer Eric Gerhardt, she produced nearly 200 pieces for “athletes AT risk,” a series highlighting health and safety measures needed on high school sidelines. Through open records requests, Kuzydym and Gerhardt told more than a dozen stories about the
lack of response by coaches when Matthew Mangine Jr. collapsed on the sidelines in June 2020, exposing a broken system. That coverage won advocacy awards from the Greater Cincinnati Athletic Trainers Association (GCATA) and the Ohio Athletic Trainers Association (OATA).
Prior to Cincinnati, Kuzydym reported on health and safety measures
in Houston, Texas, where she produced a documentary on the lack of heat-related measures nationally. But 19 days before it was scheduled to air, Hurricane Harvey flooded her station.
Before Texas, Kuzydym produced “Mind Over Matter,” an award-winning series about concussions in 2013 for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Her project received a Headliner Award.
Kuzydym is from La Porte, Indiana, the same hometown of Jake West, who collapsed and died of an undetected heart condition in 2013. The deaths of Jake and Matt have been two of the biggest influences on her career. She is also a nine-time marathon finisher and triathlete.
Chris Troyanos, ATC
Chris is the Founder and President of Sports Medicine Consultants, (1980) he has served as the Medical Director and Coordinator for a number of athletic events. As the Medical Coordinator to the Boston Athletic Association, he is the architect for the medical coverage provided at the Boston Marathon. He has over 30 years of experience when it comes to the medical care and public safety for several endurance events. He is a sought-after lecturer on the subject of health care for large-scale athletic events, and has extensive experience working with local, state and federal agencies as it relates to mass casualty concerns for major marathons. Chris has an excellent record of accomplishment when providing road race medicine as a result of his many years as the Medical Coordinator of the Boston Marathon. From 1977 to 1995, he volunteered as the coordinator of athletic training services with the Boston Athletic Association. Since 1996, he has taken on a leadership role organizing a medical committee of over 50 medical professionals and another 1600 on-site medical volunteers. Chris has developed a vast network of top tier medical professionals, athletic trainers, first responders, and volunteers, who work together to prepare for and care for athletes on race day. He has established consistent medical protocols, pre-event training, and communication with all local resources – hospitals, EMS, law enforcement, and emergency management authorities – to ensure that every athlete and patient receives the best possible care, in a timely manner. Chris has also taken on the role of Executive Director for the International Institute for Race Medicine, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving race medicine around the world. He leads this international group of medical directors that are working to improve the safety for all road race participants.
No new award winner updates due to COVID-19.
Rebecca Lopez, PhD
Associate Professor, University of South Florida
Rebecca Lopez’s research interests include exertional heat stroke, cooling methods for hyperthermic athletes, ergogenic aids and thermoregulation, hydration and exercise performance, and exercise heat tolerance issues of American football players. Rebecca has extensive athletic training experience in the high school setting, having worked over eight years in Miami area high schools. She also has experience working mass medical events including the Boston Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and Falmouth Road Race. She has published or has in press more than 25 peer-reviewed publications related to heat and hydration issues of athletes.
Rebecca received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in athletic training at Florida International University in 1998 and 2004, respectively. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Connecticut with her doctorate in exercise science.
Cindy Chang, MD
Professor, Primary Care Sports Medicine
University of California San Francisco
Dr. Cindy Chang is a primary care sports medicine physician specializing in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries and illnesses related to exercise and sports participation in children and adults.
She serves as chair of the California Interscholastic Federation’s SportsMedicine Advisory Committee, and also served on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). She is a board member of Racing Hearts, a non-profit organization that increases awareness of and improves access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in communities. After co-founding the California Concussion Coalition, Dr. Chang is now co-chair of the Sports Concussion Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. She was an elected four-year member of the Board of Directors for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), one the largest organizations of primary care sports medicine physicians in the world, and later served as its President in 2011-2012. She is also a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is currently an elected member of its Board of Trustees.
Dr. Chang has worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and was part of the USA medical team for the Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan, in 1998 and in Salt Lake City in 2002. She served as Chief Medical Officer for the USA delegation at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing, and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
She was the 2003 recipient of the AMSSM Founders Award, given to a sports medicine physician who demonstrates outstanding professional achievement and service to the community. She was also selected to receive the 2013 Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award, given annually to an individual for his/her contributions to the growth and development of sport medicine through practice and/or scholarly activity. In 2016, Dr. Chang was honored with the National Athletic Trainers’Association Jack Weakley Award of Distinction, for a lifetime of outstanding contributions that directly impact health care in the area of athletics, athletic training, or sports medicine and are of major and lasting importance.
Dr. Chang is currently a Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Family & Community Medicine. She continues at Cal as a team physician and sports medicine consultant, and volunteers as the team physician at Berkeley High School. She is very invested in supporting her athletic trainer colleagues and advocating for their licensure inCalifornia. Chang is medical director of Emergency Education Services at UCSF Benioff Children’sHospital, and has become credentialed to train others including athletic trainers to become certified instructors in First Aid and CPR/AED. She frequently speaks to community groups, schools, club teams, and the media on a wide range of topics affecting the health and safety of our young athletes.
Brian W. Hainline, MD
Chief Medical Officer
National Collegiate Athletic Association
Brian Hainline, MD, is Chief Medical Officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine. As the NCAA’s first Chief Medical Officer, Brian oversees the NCAA Sport Science Institute, a national center of excellence whose mission is to promote and develop safety, excellence, and wellness in college student-athletes, and to foster life-long physical and mental development. The NCAA Sport Science Institute works collaboratively with member institutions and Centers of Excellence across the United States. For over 25 years, Brian has been actively involved in sports medicine. He co-authored Drugs and the Athlete, and played a pivotal role in the development of drug testing and education protocols worldwide. He has served on the New York State Athletic Commission, the USOC Sports Medicine Committee, and was a founding member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Neurology Sports Neurology Section, where he currently serves as vice-chair. Brian has played a pivotal role in the development of health and safety standards in tennis, both nationally and internationally. He was Chief Medical Officer of the US Open Tennis Championships for 16 years, and then served as Chief Medical Officer of the United States Tennis Association before moving to the NCAA. He is chair of the International Tennis Federation Sport Science & Medicine Commission, and oversaw the rollout of international wheelchair tennis competition, a sport for which he wrote the rules of eligibility for both para- and quad-tennis.
At the NCAA, Brian developed, in partnership with the Department of Defense, the NCAA-DoD Grand Alliance CARE Consortium, which is a $30 million study whose aim is to understand the natural history of concussion and neurobiological recovery in concussion. The clinical study, with an advanced research component, is the largest, prospective clinical study ever conducted in the history of concussion. The Grand Alliance also includes a Mind Matters educational and research initiative, whose goal is to change the culture of concussion. Brian has taken a leadership role in addressing other pressing issues of student-athletes, including mental health, overuse injuries, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual violence, and sudden cardiac death. Through a collaborative effort with key medical organizations, Brian has spear-headed task forces that have led to inter-association documents on concussion, independent medical care, year-round football practice contact, mental health, cardiovascular care, catastrophic injury and sexual violence. He has also developed key alliances with youth sport organizations, understanding that an effective sport model begins at youth and extends to college and beyond, with a premise that sport should be a model of wellness for life.
Lawrence Armstrong, PhD, FACSM
Professor and Director of the Human Performance Laboratory
Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut
2015-2016 President, American College of Sports Medicine
Dr. Lawrence E. Armstrong started his career in exercise science at the University of Toledo where he obtained both a bachelors in biology and masters in education, followed by his PhD in human bioenergetics at Ball State University. For 7 years he conducted research as a Research Physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, followed by a 26 year tenure as professor within the Kinesiology Department at the University of Connecticut where he continues to work today.
Dr. Armstrong is currently the director of the Human Performance Laboratory and holds joint appointments in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and in Physiology & Neurobiology. He the past president of the New England Chapter of ACSM, and is the current president for the national ACSM.
During his time at UConn he has lead research advances within exercise science have largely focused on the effects of dehydration on cognitive functioning, mood, exercise performance as well as the influence of caffeine and athletic uniforms on thermoregulatory and physiological strain.
His scholarly contributions have resulted in numerous books, journal articles, US government technical reports as well as position statements from the leading medical associations (namely the American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM).
Dr. Armstrong has also been a leader, teacher and mentor to many other exercise scientists. To date he has mentored over 25 graduate students and hundreds of undergraduate students. His extensive scholarly and research background has provided the basis for the education and mentorship of hundreds of students, many of whom have followed in his steps by also leading major advances in exercise science, performing research and education at Universities across the country and by leading position statements for national medical governing associations that continue to provide best practices for athletes and the physically active.
Athletic Trainer, Springville High School
Lisa Walker, a native of Orange County, Calif., began her athletic training career in 1993 when she graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She has worked as the head athletic trainer at Springville (Utah) High School ever since. Lisa has held numerous positions within the Utah Athletic Trainers’ Association, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers’ Association, and the National Athletic Trainers Association. She has provided service with the Red Cross of America, the Australia Down Under Bowl (American football) in 2000 and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, as well as other local events and organizations. Lisa was the secretary/treasurer of the Utah Athletic Trainers’ Association from 1998-2002, president of the UATA from 2002-2007, president of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainer’s Association from 2007-2012, and she continues to serve on the UATA board of directors, the Sports Medicine Advisory Council of the Utah High School Activities Association, the NATA Secondary Schools Committee and Honors and Awards Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee to prevent sudden death in secondary school athletes. During her time with the UATA, she helped produce “Advocates of the Student Athlete,” an NATA award-winning video in 2000. She was instrumental in passing a law mandating licensure for all athletic trainers in the state of Utah and helped champion concussion legislation. She helped athletic trainers gain recognition as official healthcare providers, passed mandatory heat acclimatization for all athletes, pre-participation exams and concussion policies with the Utah High School Activities Association, as well as mandatory CPR and first aid certification for all Utah coaches and a thorough weight management system for all high school wrestlers. Lisa was named to the RMATA Hall of Fame in 2014, the public advocacy award winner by the Board of Certification in 2013, NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award in 2013, NATA Governmental Affairs award in 2006 and several other honors within the UATA, RMATA and other local organizations. Lisa resides in Provo, Utah, where she continues her work as a high school teacher and athletic trainer and serves as a clinical instructor for athletic training students at Brigham Young University while championing for athletic training reform with the Utah state legislature. Lisa continues to promote safety for the physically active of all ages. Her and her husband, David, are the parents of three children.
Senior Director of Football Development, USA Football
Nick Inzerello has been a leading voice at USA Football since joining the non-profit organization in March 2003. As Senior Director of Football Development, he oversees USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, which sets important standards in health and safety protocols through coaching education, concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness and hydration, equipment fitting and proper tackling fundamentals. Nearly 2,800 youth football organizations – representing 25 percent of all U.S. youth football players – registered for Heads Up Football in 2013, the program’s first year.
Heads Up Football is open to all youth and high school programs in 2014. Inzerello also led the development of USA Football’s Coaching Education Program, includingits Level 1 Youth Coach Education Course, the only football coaching course that has received accreditation by National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education. It also is the first instance that the NCACE had accredited a coaching course created by a U.S. national governing body of sport. USA Football leads the sport’s development for youth, high school and other amateur football players, working with leading medical organizations – including the Korey Stringer Institute – and leaders in sport for a better, safer game. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Inzerello graduated in 1998 from Northwest Missouri State University, where he also was a football letter winner. Prior to joining USA Football, he served the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in athlete marketing and digital media.
President, CEO & Founder, Advocates for Injured Athletes, San Diego, California
Beth Mallon founded the Advocates for Injured Athletes in 2009 after her son Tommy suffered a traumatic injury. Tommy fractured his neck, during a lacrosse game just days before his high school graduation. Advocates for Injured Athletes’ mission is to promote sports safety and to provide essential support, education, and resources to help keep athletes safe. Beth’s goal in starting Advocates for Injured Athletes is to reduce the number of student athlete fatalities and injuries. Through her programs and strategic alliances, Beth seeks to strengthen injury prevention in high school sports by promoting the use of Certified Athletic Trainers, developing youth sports safety programs and educational resources.
In 2011, Advocates for Injured Athletes created a unique education program called Athletes Saving Athletes (ASA), which was designed to empower student athletes with skills that could potentially save a life, whether it’s their own or that of a teammate. The ASA’s team of certified athletic trainers teach student athletes how to recognize signs and symptoms of potentially life-threatening injuries encompassing head and neck injuries, heat illness, sudden cardiac arrest, diabetes and asthma.Beth’s current focus is to bring this life saving Athletes Saving Athletes program to every high school and middle school campus in America. Beth’s other awards include the 2012 National Athletic Training Association’s Distinguished Guest Honor; 2012 Stay Classy Best Charity Finalist in Health and Wellbeing; 2011 California Athletic Training Association’s California State Recognition Award.
Director of Sports Medicine, University of Georgia
Ron Courson has served as Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia Athletic Association since 1995. Ron is a national registered emergency medical technicianintermediate as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ron has been greatly involved in athletic training, including work as an athletic trainer with the U.S. national teams at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul; 1990 Goodwill Games; 1987 World University Games, 1987 Pan American Games and the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He served as the chief athletic trainer for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials as well as the chief athletic trainer for track and field for the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games. Ron has served as president of the SEC Sports Medicine Committee, chairman of the College and University Athletic Trainers’ Committee of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and as a member of the NCAA Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports committee. He is a past medical liaison to the American Football Coaches Association; and serves currently on the NFL Health and Safety Committee and the USA Football Medical Advisory Board. Ron received the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award in 2005 from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and was inducted into the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2011. Ron serves as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia, teaching in the nationally-accredited athletic training education program. He also is a clinical instructor teaching student physical therapists from the Medical College of Georgia and other physical therapy schools. He is active in research and education in the field of sports medicine, having authored the textbook, Athletic Training Emergency Care, a number of professional papers and text chapters and presents frequently at regional and national sports medicine meetings.
Ron serves as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia, teaching in the nationally-accredited athletic training education program. He also is a clinical instructor teaching student physical therapists from the Medical College of Georgia and other physical therapy schools. He is active in research and education in the field of sports medicine, having authored the textbook, Athletic Training Emergency Care, a number of professional papers and text chapters and presents frequently at regional and national sports medicine meetings.