CLASS OF 2016
Mr. Rick Burkholder is a second generation athletic trainer from Carlisle, PA, whose father Richard Burkholder was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame Class of 2000. Rick completed his Bachelor Degree in Athletic Training from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 and two years later he completed his Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Medicine from the University of Arizona. Rick was thrilled to return to Pennsylvania after graduate school in 1990 and joined the athletic training staff at the University of Pittsburgh as a clinical instructor/athletic trainer. His exposure to teaching students, the future of our profession, has led to Rick's professional responsibility of increasing exposure to the profession and mentoring the youth.
For the past 26 years Rick has been a leader, researcher, innovator, and mentor while working the NFL sidelines. In 1993, Mr. Burkholder would get his start in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and experience the mentoring of the Head Athletic Trainer and 2015 Pennsylvania Athletic Training Hall of Fame inductee John Norwig. Six years later, in 1999 Rick would become the Head Athletic Trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles and would start a seventeen year relationship with head coach Andy Reid. Rick and his Philadelphia Eagle staff received The Athletic Training Staff of the Year award by the Ed Block Courage Foundation in 2010. Following head coach Andy Reid, Rick relocated his family to Kansas City and become the Head Athletic Trainer for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. Also that year, Rick was named the President of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers' Society. A few of his key initiatives as President are the "Athletic Trainer" nomenclature awareness, relationship building, and enhancing gender equity in NFL Athletic Trainers.
Rick has published over 40 research articles and papers on a plethora of sports medicine topics. Much of his research has changed the way health care providers treat concussion and dehydration in athletes. He has presented at the local, state, and national level for the National Athletic Trainers' Association among other associations and organizations. Rick is one of our Society's most engaging speakers. At every press conference, Rick takes the lead in promoting and increasing awareness of our profession. Rick has had the opportunity to present the David. G. Moyer Lecture for PATS on two separate occasions. Rick has had the very best foundation in life with his father and Rick demonstrates the same high character, positive attitude, and love of his family and our profession.
Rick resides in Kansas City with his wife Kristin and daughters Quinn 15 and Carly 12.
Pennsylvania may not be the birth place of James L. Thornton, MA, ATC, LAT, PES, CES, but his dedication to the advancement of Athletic Training and Athletic Trainers in the Commonwealth, District Two and nationally is rivaled by few others. After completing his undergraduate studies at Utah State University and his masters work at the University of the Pacific, Jim "Thunder" Thornton came to work at Clarion University in 1990 and was appointment a distance education faculty member with California University of PA in 1999.
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.
The collegial relationships that James Thornton built as a clinician and the passion with which he served the profession of Athletic Training moved him quickly from being a soldier of Athletic Training in Pennsylvania and the PSAC to becoming a leader in District Two of the NATA. Representing Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, Jim headed out on a new leadership path as the District Two Secretary under D2 Director and PATS and NATA Hall of Famer, Joe Iezzi.
Jim's leadership and potential for further successes at the national level were recognized by the NATA when he was named Chair of the NATA's District Secretary/Treasurer Committee, serving from 2000-2004. The experiences that he gained from that position prepared Jim to take on his next leadership position as District Two Representative to the NATA Board of Directors. Jim again applied himself to this new opportunity, quickly becoming a trusted and recognized leader having served as a member of the NATA's Political Action Committee Board, NATA REF Capital Campaign Board Solicitation Team, Chief Executive Officer Contract Review Team, Vice-President of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the NATA Strategic Implementation Team. His excellence and leadership positioned Jim to be recognized by his athletic training peers with several state and national awards, including the PATS Service Award, EATA Cramer Award. and in 2015, the NATA's Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award.
For many, these achievements would have been a pinnacle of their successes; however, that was not the case for Mr. Thornton. These achievements 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.
Dr. West comes to us from West Long Branch New Jersey, where he graduated from Shore Regional High School in 1986. Over the course of eight years, Thomas was able to complete his academic and athletic training preparation. In 1990, he completed his Bachelor of Science in Health Education with an Athletic Training Option at The Penn State University and became a BOC certified and PA certified athletic trainer in 1990. In 1992, he completed a Master of Science degree in Physical Education with an Athletic Training Specialization at West Virginia University. Most recently, Dr. West earned his Doctoral degree in Kinesiology from The Penn State University in 1998.
Dr. West is well known by all as a very personable athletic trainer with a great passion for our profession and for athletic training education. Analyzing Tom's career closely, you realize that he followed in the footsteps of two other Pennsylvania Hall of Fame athletic trainer- educators, David Tomasi (Lock Haven University) and Bill Biddington (University of California-PA). Like Tomasi and Biddington, Tom found his niche in the college setting at Lock Haven and California-PA and he optimized his abilities as practitioner, educator, mentor, clinical instructor, administrator and professional volunteer.
If asked, Dr. West would reluctantly describe his many state volunteer activities with the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society. For example, Tom served as the PATS clinical symposium education program director and convention chair when it set attendance records in Harrisburg. He served on the PATS Board as President during our transition from Certification to Licensure and was responsible for the transition to our present lobbyists Former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel, Peg Callahan, and Angie Armbrust of the Winter Group. In addition to his leadership and committee involvement as President Elect and Past President, Tom has earned the NATA Service Award and the PATS Distinguished Merit Award.
Academically, Tom has produced a variety of publications, oral and poster presentations, published abstracts, research grants, selected invited presentations and textbooks reviews. He has served on a wide variety of rofessional committees Including the CAATE Site Visit Chair and Member, the Joint ECE/CAATE/PPEC Task Force, the NATA Convention Proposal Revision Committee, and the NATA Research and Education Foundation. Tom continues to speak at state, regional, and national meetings about the utilization of technology in education to promote the athletic training profession.
Finally, Dr. West would quickly point out that his greatest achievement and impact on athletic training is the impact his teaching, mentoring, and education has had on Lock Haven and California Universities' undergraduate and graduate students who impact our profession positively and, like him, give back by practicing athletic training and serving state, district and national professional organizations.
Tom resides in Belle Vernon, PA with his wife Ellen and three children, Tucker 16, Sam 13, and Grace 8.