This award recognizes exceptional service aimed to improve policies and advocate for the adoption of policies in order to reduce sudden death in sport.
Tina Carrillo, MS, ATC
Tina is the athletic trainer at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, DC. She began at Friendship in 2011 where she created and implemented the athletic training program which was nonexistent. She discovered that most of the public charter schools did not employ athletic trainers and she wanted to change these statistics. Becoming a member of the District of Columbia Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (DCSMAC) helped to accomplish this goal. Tina collaborated with her colleagues on the DCSMAC to help create the policies and procedures that all DCSAA member schools follow. She is currently working closely with the DC Public Charter School Board to get athletic trainers into all the public charter schools within Washington, DC. Currently, Tina is the Vice President of the District of Columbia Athletic Trainers’ Association (DCATA), DCSMAC committee member, NATA Public Relations Committee member, MAATA Public Relations Committee Chair and the DCATA Public Relations Committee Chair. Tina is also a huge advocate for increasing ethnic diversity within the profession. She received the NATA EDAC grant three times, starting in 2016. The funding from the grant allowed her to create an annual DCATA Student Athletic Training Symposium and DCATA Student Athletic Training Club, which exposes students to the profession and helps them increase their knowledge in human anatomy.
She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and four-year-old daughter.
Jennifer Rheeling, MS, ATC
Jennifer has served as a certified athletic trainer for the DCPS DC Interscholastic Athletic Association since 1991. Throughout her professional career Miss Rheeling has engaged in many endeavors to advance the profession of athletic training. These include a six-year stint as the MAATA representative to the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers Committee (SSATC), liaison between the SSATC and the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), participation in the NATA’s Secondary School Practice Value Model project, the MAATA District Council, the NATA State Association Advisory Committee (SAAC) Division I representative/liaison to EDAC. She is a past-president of the DC Athletic Trainers’ Association and has served several terms as the DCIAA athletic trainers’ representative to the Washington Teachers’ Union. In her position as chair of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee she has worked to set policy standards for health and safety which align with current best practices and optimal standards of care with regards to environmental monitoring and participation modifications, availability of athletic training services, implementation of cold water immersion standards, requirement of athletic emergency action plans and incorporation of return to learn in the concussion protocol. Miss Rheeling is a proud 30+ year member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and will assume the chair position of the Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee in 2020. She has earned the NATA Service Award and the NATA SAAC Excellence in Leadership Award, as well as the MAATA Service Award and Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award and was ultimately inducted into the MAATA Hall of Fame in 2018. In 2019 she received both the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award and the NATA EDAC Bill Chisolm Professional Service Award. She has been awarded recognition from a myriad of local organizations.
No new award winners updated due to COVID-19.
Robert R. Sefcik, ATC
Robert Sefcik is a LAT, ATC a native of northeast Ohio and a 1990 graduate of the University of Toledo (Toledo, OH) with a degree in Health and Physical Education and an emphasis in Athletic Training. During his college career, Bob had the opportunity to serve as a training camp assistant to both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. After graduation, Mr. Sefcik accepted a position as Health Teacher and Athletic Trainer for El Paso High School in El Paso, TX prior to returning back to the northeast Ohio region to gain experience in clinical hospital settings. Mr. Sefcik served as the Coordinator for Sports Medicine for a four-hospital health care system in northeast Ohio. This position included developing a relationship with seven area school districts to successfully manage their athletic training programs. In conjunction with this position, Mr. Sefcik was the manager of an outpatient physical therapy/sports medicine facility. During this time, Mr. Sefcik also assisted as an athletic trainer for the Cleveland Lumberjacks Hockey Team in the IHL. While working within the hospital setting, Mr. Sefcik developed a close association with an orthopedic surgery practice and was soon hired as the Director of Sports Medicine for the group. This position he held for eight years prior to being recruited to Youngstown, Ohio to manage a multisystem sports medicine department and performance facility. In this position, Sefcik worked closely with hospital administrators and business development leaders to become the official sports medicine provider to the Youngstown Steelhounds CHL Hockey team and the Youngstown Phantoms Hockey USHL club. Prior to his departure, Mr. Sefcik had aligned a relationship with the Mahoning Valley Thunder, an Arena II football club as the exclusive sports medicine providers.
Mr. Sefcik became the Executive Director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program, in Jacksonville, FL, a non-profit advocacy agency for sports injury prevention in 2006. Under his leadership this program has become known as a leading advocate for sports injury prevention in northeast Florida. Several committees and work groups have generated from this organization including the Northeast Florida Regional Sports Concussion Task Force. In 2012, Sefcik joined Tallahassee Senator Bill Montford and the 15 leading orthopedic surgery practices in the state in forming the Florida Alliance for Sports Medicine (FASMed). This agency has taken a progressive leadership role in working with state leaders and organizations in creating and updating sports safety policies for high school sports.
Mr. Sefcik serves the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) as a member of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, the Southeast area Athletic Trainers Association and the Athletic Trainers Association of Florida. In the role Sefcik feels he is most fortunate, he is the proud father of four awesome children: Madeline (daughter) a graduate of Roanoke College (Va), Morgan (Son) current student at Florida State, Frances (daughter) current student and lacrosse athlete at Roanoke College (Va) and Charlotte (daughter) current high school student and competitive gymnast. Sefcik has been proudly married to wife, Jill, for 28 years.
Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC
Teacher & Athletic Trainer
Penn-Trafford High School
Larry Cooper has been a tireless advocate for secondary school athletic trainers.
He has been involved locally, regionally, and nationally on various committees, projects, and several inter-association task forces. Recently, he served as the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers Committee (SSATC) Chair and also the District 2 SSATC Representative. Cooper has been a teacher and certified athletic trainer for 35 years. For the last 27 years, he has served as a sports medicine, health, and physical education instructor at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pennsylvania. Cooper has also served as a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. In addition, he has held numerous positions within the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society (PATS) including being a member of the Board of Directors and Secondary School Committee Chair. Cooper is a founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Leagues (WPIAL) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. He continues to work as a master assessor for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (PIAA) Wrestling Weight Loss rule. Cooper has been an active member in the KSI’s ATLAS Projectsince its inception. This collaborative effort between the NATA and KSI has led to new policies and policy changes that have increased secondary school athlete safety across the country.
Cooper was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainer Hall of Fame in 2014. He received the NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award in 2014 and the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 2016. In addition, he received the School Health/ Training and Conditioning Magazine Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award in 2015; The Micro Bio-Medics Scholastic Athletic Trainer Award in 2003; the PATS Service Award in 2005; and the PATS Distinguished Merit Award in 2011.
His favorite role has been that as loving husband to Lisa and father to their three daughters, Sara, Molly, and Delaney.
James L. Thornton, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer
Clarion University Athletics
Jim embraced his Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) collaborations and became one of the nationally recognized experts in health care for wrestlers. When chairing the NCAA Athletic Trainer Task Force from 1997-2006 and then later serving as the Athletic Training Liaison to the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee, Jim contributed to the creation of health and safety rules related to safe weight management practices, and the prevention and treatment of common skin infections. He also helped to create several health and safety publications, instructional videos, and practice standards that have been distributed and shared widely by USA Wrestling. In addition to sharing his over thirty years of clinical expertise with health issues in wrestling, Mr. Thornton recently co-authored four different peer-reviewed publications on liability in sports medicine and the role of athletic trainers. Jim’s clinical expertise and contributions at the collegiate level were recognized in 2008 when he received the NATA College and University Committee’s Division II Head Athletic Trainer of the Year recognition.
For many, these achievements would have been a pinnacle of their successes; however, that was not the case for Mr. Thornton. These achievement only served to fuel Jim’s desire to give back to the profession of Athletic Training even further, culminating in his election as President of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. During Jim’s leadership as NATA President from 2012-2015, the NATA marked a time of unrivaled progress and recognition of Athletic Training in the ever-expanding and competitive health care arena. He was well respected and admired by his colleagues, his peers, administrators of other national organizations, and legislators. Jim Thornton has made a difference for Athletic Trainers in Pennsylvania, across the United States and on an international level. Through all that he has given back to the profession, and how he has represented all of his colleagues and friends in Pennsylvania and District Two so admirably, James L. Thornton is recognized as many things to many different people – leader, teacher, outstanding clinician, and visionary, but most importantly as loving husband of Bridget Gates Thornton, who is also an Athletic Trainer, and their three daughters, Matti, Maci and Maya. Athletic Trainers in Pennsylvania and across the United States have benefitted greatly from the unselfish contributions that Jim Thornton has made to the advancement of the profession.
Rachael R. Oats, CAE
Associate Executive Director
National Athletic Trainers’ Association
Rachael R. Oats, CAE, has been a champion for athletic trainers and their patient populations since she began her tenure with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association in 1999.
During her years of service to NATA and its members, Rachael has worked in several capacities, including special projects and volunteer engagement manager, continuing education associate, special projects coordinator, special projects manager, and NATA Foundation Director. She is currently the association’s associate executive director, a position she’s held since 2013.
Rachael is the staff lead on several youth sports safety programs with the NFL and KSI, including the national and NFL club AT programs, which provide access to athletic trainers for youth in underserved areas; Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Sport, a three-year initiative sponsored by NATA and AMSSM to address and improve state athletic associations’ policies to make participation safer for high school student athletes; and meetings of national youth sports governing bodies designed to educate and develop consensus on best practices for our country’s youngest athletes. She has also worked with NATA inter-association task forces which were convened to tackle issues such as pre-season heat acclimatization, exertional heat illness, commotio cordis, sickle cell trait, emergency preparedness, sudden cardiac arrest in high school and collegiate, to name a few. Rachael led efforts to develop an educational video entitled Head’s Up, which addressed the dangers head-first tackling in contact football, as well as concussion education videos for football and hockey.
In her 17 years with the association, she has served the Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee, College/University Athletic Trainers’ Committee, Honors and Awards Committees and a number of inter-association task forces that have successfully improved practices and led to new policies that make physical activity safer for athletes of all ages.
In 2008, Rachael earned the prestigious Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential, the highest professional designation for association professionals, held by fewer than 5 percent of her peers in association management.
Chief Medical Advisor & Chairman of the Medical & Science Advisory Board, KSI
Attending Physician, Landmark Medical Center
Medical Director, Falmouth Road Race
John Jardine, MD, is a board certified emergency medicine physician since 2000. His interest in race medicine was piqued when he first volunteered at the Falmouth Road Race in the summer of 2000. Two years later, he was appointed co-medical director of the race and has been directing medical operations since. As co-director, he is involved with the overall coordination of the medical care at the race including the recruitment and training of volunteers, ensuring adequate supplies and equipment are available for medical services, and providing emergency care to the athletes, spectators, and volunteers involved with the race. Through the history of the race, the medical team has developed protocols for the treatment of exertional heat illness. Dr. Jardine has continued to perfect these protocols and has teamed with KSI to continue research to protect athletes worldwide. He has co-authored two research papers, “The Effectiveness of Cold Water Immersion in the Treatment of Exertional Heat Stroke at the Falmouth Road Race”, and “Relationship Between Aerobic Fitness Parameters, Body Temperature, and Perceptual Responses Following a Warm-Weather Road Race” through his experience with medical care at the race. Dr. Jardine has been involved in medical care at long distance races. As an invited guest, he has assisted the medical team at the Boston Marathon in the critical care and heat illness treatment areas. Dr. Jardine’s start in medicine was in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as an EMT and then Paramedic in New York State. After 12 years of practicing prehospital medicine, Dr. Jardine earned his medical degree at Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn, New York. He completed residency in emergency medicine at Rhode Island Hospital/Brown University serving as chief resident in his senior year. His background in EMS has provided experience in disaster medicine and mass casualty incidents (MCIs). He worked with the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) to staff field hospitals at mass gatherings. With RI DMAT, Dr. Jardine implemented and staffed a mobile hospital to provide medical support to the offshore Egypt Air Flight 990 recovery mission. As an emergency physician, Dr. Jardine directed the medical care for Operation Helping Hand, Massachusetts Governor Romney’s temporary relocation of the displaced victims of Hurricaine Katrina to Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. The organizational and administrative skills previously experienced with MCIs have been invaluable in coordinating medical care for events involving several thousand athletes.
Diplomat, American Board of Emergency Medicine
Medical Director, Emergency Department at Falmouth Hospital
Robert J. Davis, MD, has nearly 20 years of experience as an emergency medicine physician and has been a leader in the development of exertional heat stroke treatment protocol through his 13 years as Co-medical Director of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, an elite running event held each August in Falmouth, MA. As co-medical director of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race since 2002, Dr. Davis and his team of volunteer medical personnel from the Falmouth Hospital Emergency Department staff three medical tents along the race route. Due to the numbers and severity of exertional heat stroke patients the Falmouth Road Race medical team sees over the course of the 7-mile course, they are trained and experienced in effective treatment methods. The medical team has been providing medical care at the race for the last 40 years, and their development of treatment methods for exertional heat stroke over the years – including immediate immersion in ice baths on the race course – helped establish the treatment protocol still in use today. Over the years, Dr. Davis and his team have used their skills and experience to save many lives and help hundreds of runners recover quickly and resume their normal activities. Dr. Davis is Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Falmouth Hospital in Falmouth, MA, and is also Medical Director of the Urgent Care Department at Stoneman Outpatient Center in Sandwich, MA. He earned his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine in 1995 and completed an internship and residency at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI. He was chief resident at Rhode Island Hospital and assistant clinical instructor of medicine at Brown University School of Medicine from 1998-1999. Dr. Davis is a diplomat of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He directs a bi-monthly Morbidity and Mortality Conference on Risk Management in the Falmouth Hospital Emergency Department, and is a consulting expert in emergency medicine. He is on the board of directors of Cape Cod Health Network, a physician-hospital organization, and is also on the board of the Cape Cod Health Network ACO. He also serves on the Quality Committee of the Physicians of Cape Cod, a private physicians group.Dr. Davis has won numerous medical awards, including the Daniel L. Savitt Resident Teaching Award and the Gregory D. Jay Resident Research Award from Rhode Island Hospital in 1999, the Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Performance in Pediatric Emergency Medicine from Hasbro Children’s Hospital in 1999, the Alpha Omega Alpha distinction at Boston University School of Medicine in 1995, and the Falmouth Hospital Trauma Award in 2006.
Head Athletic Trainer, Cabot Public Schools
Jason Cates has been the head athletic trainer at Cabot Public Schools in Cabot, Arkansas since July, 2011. He has been very active in athletic health care for secondary schools at the state, district, and national levels since 1996. Jason has served on several committees on all three levels and is the current Past-President of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association. He serves on The Arkansas Activities Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which adopted pre-season acclimatization and practice guidelines in accordance with the Korey Stringer Institute in 2012.
Jason, along with other Arkansas athletic trainers and key “stakeholders,” worked with a Legislative Task force to study athletic health care concerns in the state of Arkansas’ secondary schools. The Legislative Task Force was successful in passing a comprehensive Athletic Health Care Bill (H.B. 1214) in 2011, which addresses Exertional Heat Illness, Athletic Concussions, Communicable Diseases, and Emergency Action Plans for Athletics. Additionally, the bill mandates coach, parent, and athlete education on each of these issues.
Jason was recognized as the Arkansas Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2008 and received the NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award in 2012. Jason received his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with emphasis in Athletic Training from Arkansas State University.
Athletic Trainer, Ewing High School, Ewing, NJ
David currently serves as the athletic trainer at Ewing High School, where he has held that position since 1991. Utilizing the experience he has gained at Ewing High School as well as the experience from various other medical positions, David has become a sought after national speaker. Thus, he has presented multiple topics at the state, district and national levels. He has served on numerous state, district and national committees. In 2009, David was a member of the NATA Pre-Season Heat Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics Task Force. With his help New Jersey became the first state to adopt these guidelines. David has given countless hours to help improve the care of secondary school student-athletes by serving on the following committees: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) District 2 Secondary School Representative, the NATA Liaison with USA Football, the NATA Liaison with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey (ATSNJ) Secondary School Committee Chairperson and the NJSIAA Pre-Season Guideline Committee. David also served as the president of the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey from 1999-2001. During his term, he was instrumental in the passing of the state Athletic Training Licensure Act in addition to tenure for athletic trainers in secondary schools. In 2008, he was inducted into the ATSNJ Hall of Fame. David’s list of other awards include: NJSIAA/NJSCA Hall of Fame (2004), Ewing High School Athletic Hall of Fame (2011), The NJSIAA Service Award (2005), recipient of the Micro-Bio Medics Scholastic Athletic Trainer Award (2004), ATSNJ Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award (2003), NATA District 2 Service Award (2001) and ATSNJ Sports Medicine Conference Committee Outstanding Contributions (1997).
Mike Carroll, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer & Assitant Athletic Director, Stephenville High School, Stephenville, TX
Mike Carroll has been the head athletic trainer for Stephenville High School since the fall of 2003. He is also the assistant athletic director. As a state licensed and nationally certified athletic trainer, Mike is very active in professional organizations and has served on numerous local, state and district boards of directors in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association. In 2009, Mike was a member of the Pre-Season Heat Acclimatization Guidelines for Secondary School Athletics Task Force. He is currently the liaison from the Texas State Athletic Trainers’ Association to the
University Interscholastic League (UIL), the state activities association for interscholastic athletics in Texas. In the fall of 2011, he spearheaded a successful effort to have the UIL adopt pre-season practice guidelines similar to those recommended by the NATA task force. Mike received NATA’s and SWATA’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 2012. He also received NATA’s Athletic Trainer Service Award in 2008 and SWATA’s Eddie Wojecki and Bobby Gunn Unsung Hero Awards in 2005 for his work within the Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee.
Mike is a member of the Medical and Science Advisory Board of the Korey Stringer Institute.