Between the Lines: Thank You, Athletic Trainers

Since midway through 2020, we’ve looked at our healthcare workers in a different light. Doctors, nurses, first responders, hospice care workers — all of whom work in high-stress situations on a daily basis — were pushed to their limits with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Instead of envisioning them with a white lab coat, as of late, they’re seen instead draped with a cape worthy of the planet’s mightiest heroes. Flying head-first to serve on the frontlines against a foe with so many unknowns, these people put their health and livelihood on the line to do what they’ve been trained to do — deliver care and services to this sick and ailing. 

Photo: courtesy Ashley Labrador

And while the sports world pressed pause to concentrate resources on tending to the effects of the pandemic, athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals were not idly watching the events unfold. As the frontline healthcare workers in the athletic arena, the scenery may have changed but the game was still the same. 

Across the country over the last year or so we’ve read countless stories about athletic trainers aiding their local hospitals to deal with the overflow of COVID patients. And when schools began re-opening, administrations looked to its athletic trainers to help build a comprehensive return-to-play plan that aligned with local, state, and federal guidelines. 

Often in the background, or, in this case, on the sidelines, of a team or student-athletes’ success, the athletic trainer is a difference-maker for every athletic department. 

And it’s with that in mind that our sister publication, Training & Conditioning, is proud to share its ninth annual Most Valuable Athletic Trainer of the Year award received the most nominations in the history of the award.

The award received more than 200 nominations for worthy high school athletic trainers ranging from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine and Florida, and whittling the list down to a single winner has been a difficult task. And, sure, the recognition of one’s hard work on a national level is amazing, but for those that just missed out, it’s not a repeal of what you’ve accomplished. The acknowledgment that means most should be those with whom you interact on a daily basis — your student-athletes and their families, your coaches, your administrators, and your fellow community members. 

» ALSO SEE: The 2021 Coaches Report

Training & Conditioning is proud to announce Ashley Labrador, the athletic trainer at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, CT, as its 2021 Most Valuable Athletic Trainer of the Year recipient. We, at Coach & Athletic Director, understand the important role athletic trainers play in keeping players playing at the best. And with our ‘Player Health & Safety’ issue, we have compiled a variety of stories as we aim to help ADs and ATCs do just that. Before diving into this month’s issue, however, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all of the nominees for this year’s award in the space below. 

Thank you to all the athletic trainers for all that you’ve done and continue to do!

  • Brian Cronin, Oswego (IL) High School
  • Broden Ranck, Central Cambria (PA) High School
  • Cari Wood, Redmond (OR) High School
  • Carolyn Black, Sitka (AK) High School
  • Shaun Carmody, Cheyenne Mountain (CO) High School
  • Derek Lautieri, The Derryfield (NH) School
  • Diane Murphy-Kivell, New Canaan (CT) High School
  • Emily Renna, Danbury (CT) High School/Select Medical
  • Erika Miller, Lakewood (FL) High School
  • Frank Millan, American Heritage School (FL) – Plantation
  • Heidi Kirby, Exeter (NH) High School
  • John Harmon, Dickinson (TX) High School
  • Jordan Napolitano, Stamford (CT) High School
  • Jorie Hart, Mt. Mansfield Union (VT) High School
  • Kevin McNamara, Yorktown (IN) High School
  • Leonard Angelli, Cardigan (NH) Mountain School
  • Lisa Neeser, Park Hill (MO) High School
  • Lisa Walker, Springville (UT) High School
  • Manuel Gurrola, San Elizario (TX) High School
  • Mark Florence, Naperville (IL) Central High School
  • Michael Giordano Jr., Thornton (ME) Academy
  • Peter Gray, Henry Clay (KY) High School
  • Zachary Poincon, South Terrebonne (LA) High School
  • Becky Clifton, Floyd Central (IN) High School/Korte Physical Therapy
  • Rob C. Marshall, Columbus (NE) High School
  • Ross Talpey, Upper Cape (MA) RVT High School