Athletic Training - Professional Glance

The 1930s and 1940s marked an awakening with regard to the need for an organization for athletic trainers. The original attempt to establish a national association for athletic trainers was in 1938, at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. The athletic trainers working with teams competing at the Drake Relays track meet realized the need for an organization of individuals to promote the exchange of ideas and techniques that would be useful in providing athletic training services to athletes.

Through the originality of thought and energy of people such as Charles Cramer who sought to establish such an organization, the NATA was founded in 1939. This early organization saw the appointment of a president and secretary-treasure as well as the establishment of a home office for the association in Iowa City, Iowa. Early on, the NATA published a small, mimeographed monthly newsletter called the NATA Bulletin. Members received a copy of the bulletin and were encouraged to write articles for inclusion in future issues.

The NATA continued until1944, when World War II caused a great strain on the members of the fledgling association. The difficult years of the association from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s saw several accomplishments. The NATA

  • established membership classes (1939)
  • published the Trainers Journal (1941-1942), written for athletic trainers and coaches
  • created an insignia and established a certificate (1941)
  • established regional divisions of athletic trainers (1942)
  • held national meetings

Although the early organization failed perhaps due in part to financial and communication difficulties, it appears that many lessons were learned and later applied in the creation of what we know as today’s NATA.

Beginning in 1947, more and more schools were employing athletic trainers in their athletic departments, giving a renewed focus to the establishment of the NATA. These athletic trainers often had no formal education to qualify them for their positions. Many had learned the skills and techniques from other in the same field and from physicians working with the sport teams. The new era of the NATA began, and in 1950 the first national meeting was held in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association was founded in 1950 when a core group of about 200 athletic trainers met in Kansas City to discuss the future. The decade of the 1950s was one of considerable growth for the NATA. During the decade, schools began offering undergraduate programs in athletic training. Outstanding accomplishments of that era included the following:

  • The NATA constitution and by-laws were formed (1951)
  • The official logo of the NATA was adapted (1952)
  • The NATA Code of Ethics was adopted (1957)
  • The first program of undergraduate education of athletic trainers was submitted to and approved by the board of directors (1959)

The 1960s through the 1980s brought continuing growth within the profession that has molded what our profession is today. In 1969, the medical profession fully recognized the significance of the NATA when the AMA acknowledged the importance of the role of the athletic trainer and commended the NATA for its role in developing professional standards. Other additional accomplishments of this era includes the following:

  • The development in the 1960s lead to the first NATA certification exam examination (July 1970)
  • The first graduate athletic training curricula were approved (1972)
  • The NATA adopted official initials for designating the certified athletic trainer (ATC) (1975)
  • The attention of certified athletic trainers turned toward state licensure (1978)
  • The NATA established continuing education requirements for all certified athletic trainers (1979)
  • The National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies granted membership to the NATA (1982)
  • The official recognition of athletic training as an allied health profession by the American Medical Association (AMA) (1990)

In addition to these important events, the NATA looked to the AMA’s Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation for evaluation of athletic training curricula. To further raise the bar, the NATA sought to have all college athletic training programs attain the status of an academic major or its equivalent. This tremendous change in academics is the new generation (21st Century) that the NATA is approaching.

Today, the NATA membership spans the globe and includes more than 27,000 allied health care professionals. NATA members can be found in schools, on the sidelines of professional sports, in hospitals and clinics, and in the industrial setting as the profession that began with college sports expands to guard the safety of all people involved in physical activity.

Works Cited
Hillman, Susan K. 2005. Introduction to Athletic Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Retrieved February 3, 2005, from

Prentice, William E. 2003. Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA):