Dr. Pat Aronson, a longtime athletic training professor at Lynchburg, will be inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual Clinical Symposia and AT Expo to be held June 24 to 27 in Las Vegas.
She will be just the 24th woman to be inducted into the NATA’s Hall of Fame since its inception in 1962. “It’s exciting to me because it means that all of my volunteer work and all of my service to the profession is being recognized by a group of peers,” she said.
Over her 30-plus years at Lynchburg, Dr. Aronson has shared her knowledge, skills, and time, not only with students and student-athletes but with local, state, and national organizations, including the NATA’s District Three. District Three, also known as the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association, covers Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
As director of the MAATA, a volunteer position she held from 2013 to 2017, Dr. Aronson made mentoring students and young professionals — particularly women and minorities — a priority. One of her duties was to appoint athletic trainers to national and district committees. Whenever possible, she made a diverse choice.
“I wanted the best person for the job, but if there was a group that was equally qualified I would look at women and young professional women, and would absolutely look at young professional women of color,” she said. “District Three had the most ethnically diverse athletic trainers representing our district, more than any district. I’m kind of proud of that.”
Currently, Dr. Aronson is chair of the NATA’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, which was created in 2017. “We put in a plus to kind of include as many people as we can,” Dr. Aronson said, referring to the acronym which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.
“Patients in that community can recognize athletic trainers that are in that community. It’s brand new. All over, health care professions have some sort of diversity and inclusion branch and we never did. It was about time that we did.”
At the upcoming conference, Dr. Aronson also will receive the Gail Weldon Award of Excellence. According to the NATA, the award recognizes “exceptional commitment to mentoring, professional development, and life balancing for women athletic trainers, or significant contributions to improve the health care of females provided by athletic trainers.”
This is not the first time Dr. Aronson will be recognized by her peers. Past honors she’s received have included induction into the MAATA and Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association halls of fame and the NATA’s 2004 Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer and 1998 Athletic Trainer Service awards.
One of the things Dr. Aronson is best known for at Lynchburg, however, is her dedication to students as a teacher and mentor.
“Since I first had her as a professor, she has been a large influence in my education and career, and has been a supporter of my future career aspirations,” Andrew Van Haren, a 2019 graduate of Lynchburg’s Master of Science in Athletic Training program, said. “Her influence and leadership in the classroom pushes each of us in the MSAT program to perform at our highest potential, not only educationally, but clinically and professionally.”
Later this year, Van Haren will start Lynchburg’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, but he said he hopes Dr. Aronson “will continue to be a mentor to me as I continue my education. She is absolutely someone I would come to first should I need help or advice.”
Van Haren went on to talk about Dr. Aronson’s work in the greater community. Among other things, she fundraises for Alzheimer’s research and local nonprofits and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Her personality shines through in everything that she does, whether it be in the classroom, in the clinic, or socially,” Van Haren said. “She’s an avid supporter of University of Lynchburg sports, with many stories to share from her days as the head athletic trainer here.
“It has absolutely been my pleasure to learn from her, and be a part of a program that she has helped build. I think that her upcoming NATA Hall of Fame induction is well deserved for her service to the profession, the community, her patients, and her students.”