Professor of Athletic Training Dr. Patricia Aronson has received the 2022 Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association Educator of the Year award. The ceremony was held in Harrisonburg earlier this month.
“It was nice to be affirmed by the VATA Honors and Awards Committee, but the real satisfaction was to have my colleague, Dr. Debbie Bradney, nominate me for the award for teaching,” said Aronson, who has taught at Lynchburg for more than 30 years.
In her nomination letter, Bradney, director of the Master of Science in Athletic Training program, praised Aronson as a “true professional” and a “role model” who works tirelessly to serve her students — whether that’s in person or virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I cannot imagine a more deserving individual to be the VATA Educator of the Year,” wrote Bradney, who has worked with Aronson for two decades and won the award herself in 2012.
“She has been honored at the national, district, and state levels for her continued dedication and service to our profession. I think she also needs to be honored for her true passion, teaching.”
Indeed, the Educator of the Year award follows a long list of accolades.
In 2019, Aronson was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame. That same year, she also won NATA’s Gail Weldon Award of Excellence. She was named to the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2018 and to VATA’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
After honoring her with its Athletic Trainer Service Award in 1998, the NATA named her the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer in 2004. Canisius College, where Aronson completed her undergraduate degree in physical education, inducted her into its Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. Aronson earned an MEd in sports medicine and a PhD in kinesiology from the University of Virginia.
“I’ve received many service awards, but my real focus has always been in the classroom working with students, so this one is special,” Aronson said of VATA’s Educator of the Year award.
“Two alumni wrote letters of support related to our relationship as teacher and student, which means a lot to me as well. It’s nice to be recognized and to have a light shine on the University of Lynchburg.”
One of those alumni was Bradley Jones ’11.
“The thing that differentiates Pat from others is the deep personal connections she fosters throughout a student’s collegiate experience,” he wrote. “She cherishes and invests in every athletic training student that has gone through the Lynchburg program.
“Not only was she a professor for some of my athletic training courses, but she became a mentor, counselor, and very close friend during my time at Lynchburg.”
Andrew Van Haren ’19 MSAT echoed Jones’s letter.
“More important than her ability to solely educate … is her ability to extract the very best out of each of her students through her motivation, compassion, and empowerment,” he wrote. “I consider her a truly life-changing educator and am thankful for her continued service to the profession of athletic training and the development of future and current athletic trainers.”
The 2022 ceremony also included the 2021 VATA awards, which recognized two Lynchburg alumni, Katie Grover ’11 and Jones. Grover won the 2021 Clinical and Emerging Practice Athletic Trainer of the Year award while Jones received the 2021 Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year award.