ST. LOUIS, MO -- The 63rd National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia is underway in the Gateway City amid a scorching heat wave. With the temperature outside climbing to 106 degrees (seriously, 106!), one of the most momentous developments here is the inauguration of James L. Thornton, MA, ATC, PES, CES, as new NATA president. Thornton's entrance into the spotlight coincides with Marje Albohm, MS, ATC, stepping down after four years of enthusiastically leading the organization. Coincidentally, Albohm also began her presidential tenure in St. Louis, the last time NATA held its annual meeting in the Missouri metropolis. Thornton is the head athletic trainer and director of sports medicine and athletic training services at Clarion University in Clarion, PA, where he has worked since 1990 and oversees a department of three full-time athletic trainers, two certified graduate assistants and 20 athletic training students through a collaborative athletic training education program with California University of Pennsylania.
ADVANCE conducted an exclusive interview with Thornton yesterday in which he offered his thoughts on the profession, his goals as president and this year's conference.
ADVANCE Managing Editor Jon Bassett (left) with new NATA President James L. Thornton, MA, ATC, PES, CES
"I'm happy to be back here in St. Louis for the annual meeting," said Thornton. "It's a great city and the venue provides a centralized location in the United States. There is so much downtown for our attendees to do."
Thornton added that concussions, heat illness and sickle cell trait are among the most important focuses in the conference's continuing education program this year.
"Those conditions greatly affect today's active athletes and their families," he related. "So they are very emphasized in our content here, as they should be."
Among his goals as president is to improve the health and safety of young people in the United States. For example, less than 50 percent of high school students in the U.S. currently have access to an athletic trainer, Thornton noted.
"The other critical message to me is spreading awareness that athletic trainers provide health care, not just emergency services," he emphasized.
Stay tuned to the ADVANCE website for a video of this exclusive interview, to be posted next month!