Jim Thornton, head athletic trainer at Clarion University, will receive the prestigious College/University Athletic Trainers’ Committee’s Division II Head Athletic Trainer of the year Award during the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) convention in St. Louis, Mo., June 17-21.
“This is quite an honor,” said Thornton. “This award is special because it acknowledges work completed at the workplace. It is a prestigious award and I am humbled and excited.”
NATA annually presents a number of awards each year, including Head Athletic Trainer of the Year in all three NCAA divisions. Nominations for the Head Athletic Trainer of the Year Award are made to the College/University Athletic Trainers’ Committee, which investigates the nominees within the conference and assesses their contributions to the profession and NATA before selecting a recipient.
“This award tells the parents of Clarion’s athletes that they can count on the quality of health care, treatment, and support their children will receive while competing,” said Thornton. “I see this as a Clarion University Athletic Training staff award, their work makes me look good.”
Clarion University’s athletic trainers are responsible for the health care and insurance claims of over 300 athletes in 18 sports. Thornton explained that he there is a difference between a certified athletic trainer and the personal trainers who most frequently make news for activities such as distributing steroids.
“A certified athletic trainer has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree,” he explained. “Eighty-five percent have a master’s degree and many have earned a Ph.D. It is important for a certified athletic trainer to be a medical professional in order to care for, treat, and rehabilitate athletes from injury or surgery so they can reenter the active population. Certified athletic trainers work in many varying settings under the direction of a physician.”
Thornton is beginning his19th year as head trainer at Clarion University. He is certified by the NATA and is active in national and state athletic training organizations. He is director for NATA District 2 and serves on the NATA Board of Directors.
A native of Mt. Pleasant, Utah, Thornton was the owner/manager of Jim's Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant from 1981-83 before deciding to enroll at Utah State University. He served as a student athletic trainer for four years for football, wrestling, women's gymnastics, baseball, women's softball and track. He earned a B.S. degree in biology and exercise science in 1987 from Utah State.
He joined the University of the Pacific (U.O.P.) as a graduate assistant trainer in Fall 1987. He was awarded his masters degree in sports medicine at U.O.P. in 1989 and was hired by U.O.P. as assistant athletic trainer in Fall1989. He remained in that position until coming to Clarion in June 1990.