Free Communications Awards

The purpose of the Free Communications Awards program is to recognize and encourage the research efforts of athletic trainers and athletic training students by awarding outstanding research awards based on NATA Foundation Free Communications program abstracts and presentations. The award categories include 5 types of awards across the research spectrum, which will all be presented as Oral Presentations.

2024 Winners:

Pre-Professional/Professional Student:

University of Lynchburg

Abstract Title:
“Impact Mitigation Properties of Youth and Adult Ice Hockey Helmets”




Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student:

University of Toledo

Abstract Title:
“Reliability and Validity of Hip and Thigh Muscle Strength Assessment Using Low-Cost Tension Dynamometers”

Clinical Take Home Message: The Tindeq Progressor and Crane Scale are reliable and valid low-cost (≤$150) devices for measuring muscle strength at the hip and thigh in adults.

Post-Professional Terminal Degree Student:
Old Dominion University

Abstract Title:
“The Optimal Dose of Balance Training for Individuals with Chronic Ankle Instability: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”



University of Texas at Tyler

Abstract Title:
“Carpometacarpal Bossing in a Collegiate Baseball Player: A Case Report”

Clinical Take Home Message: Many uncommon or rare pathologies have the potential to mimic the symptomatology of more common pathologies. This abstract identifies a unique and rare wrist injury that occurs in 19% of individuals with only 1% experiencing symptoms that affect athletic performance. Thorough and holistic evaluations of pathologies is critical for accurate diagnosis. With an accurate diagnosis, a clinician can produce with the best rehabilitation and treatment program to return an athlete to the field.

Established Career:

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Abstract Title:
“Prevalence and Diagnosis Status of Non-Sport-Related Concussions in a Sample of High School, College and Professional Athletes”

Clinical Take Home Message: Non-sport-related concussions are less like to be reported than those that are sport-related, indicating a need to improve care pathways for these injuries at all levels of sport.



Award Categories:

  1. Pre-Professional/Professional Student – Individuals eligible for this award would be undergraduate students or entry-level students who are pursuing education to become an athletic trainer (i.e., pre-ATC credential).
  2. Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student – Individuals eligible for this award would already have their athletic training credential but are still a student pursuing further education for the goal of becoming an advanced clinician and includes advanced master’s degree and residents.
  3. Post-Professional Terminal Degree Student – Individuals eligible for this award would already have their athletic training credential but are still a student pursuing further education in a terminal degree (e.g, DAT, PhD, EdD, DHSc/DHS, ScD/DSc, DHEd)
  4. Early-Career– Individuals eligible for this award would be working in their current position and have < 7 years of experience since being a student, including postdoctoral fellows, faculty, staff, other.
  5. Established Career – Individuals eligible for this award would be working in their current position and have at least 7 years of experience since being a student, including: faculty, staff, other.

2016 – 2022 Winners


Pre-Professional/Professional Student: JULIA RIZOPOULOS, Florida International University. “Paget-Schroetter Syndrome in a Collegiate Baseball Player: A Type 4 Clinical CASE Study”

Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student:  STEPHAN FISHER, MS, ATC, Texas State University. “The Response of Photobiomodulation on Muscle Fatigue When Applied at Different Time Points”


Learn more about the 2022 recipients here. 

Pre-Professional/Professional Student: KENTA MIZUMOTO, Ritsumeikan University. “A Mindfulness Breathing Exercise Program Improves Dynamic Postural Control in Collegiate Soccer Athletes with a History of Lateral Ankle Sprain”

Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student: KATIE ROSENTHAL, MS, AT, ATC, University of Toledo. “Transverse Abdominis Activity in Healthy Active Adults During Therapeutic Exercises”

Post-Professional Terminal Degree Student: HoWON KIM, MS, ATC, Ohio University. “Action-Observation Brain Activity Associate with Kinesiophobia after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction”

Early-Career: DANIELLE TORP, PHD, ATC, University of Kentucky. “Immediate and Retention Effects of Auditory Biofeedback Gait Training on Biomechanics and Talar Cartilage Characteristics in Chronic Ankle Instability”

Established Career:DANIEL CLIFTON, PHD, ATC, Consortium for Health and Military Performance. “Financial Impact of Embedded Injury Prevention Experts in U.S. Army Initial Entry Training”


Learn more about the 2021 recipients here

Pre-Professional/Professional Student: Claire Brewer, University of Alabama. “Preliminary Investigation between Race as a Social Determinant of Health and Symptom Endorsement Following a Sport-Related Concussion”

Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student: Kennedy Dewey, ATC, George Mason University. “The Epidemiology of Injuries in Middle School Baseball Between the 2015/16 and 2018/19 School Years”

Post-Professional Terminal Degree Student: Xavier Thompson, MS, ATC, University of Virginia. “Disagreement in Pass Rates Among Different Components of Return to Sports Test Batteries After ACLR”

Early-Career: Alicia Lacy, PhD, ATC, A.T. Still University. “Athletic Trainers’ Perceptions of and Experiences with Unlearning in Clinical Practice”

Established Career: Tamara Valovich McLeod, PhD, ATC, FNATA, A.T. Still University. “Test-Retest Reliability of the Concussion Quality of Life-Youth Patient-Report Outcome Measure (Version 1).”


Pre-Professional/Professional Student: Chaselyn Trentley, University of Lynchburg. “The Experience of Professional Master’s Athletic Training Students With Sexual Harassment During Clinical Education”

Post-Professional Advanced Clinical Track Student: Stephanie Stephens, MS, ATC,University of Virginia. “Dry Cupping Therapy Improves Subcutaneous Hemodynamics and Pain Associated with Nonspecific Neck Pain”

Post-Professional Terminal Degree Student: Justin Rush, MS, ATC, University of Toledo. “Limb Differences in Hamstring Muscle Function and Morphology 2-9 Years After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction”

Early-Career: Rachel Koldenhoven Rolfe, PhD, ATC, Texas State University. “Gait Biofeedback and Impairment-based Rehabilitation for Chronic Ankle Instability: A Randomized Controlled Trial”

Established Career: Randy Schmitz, PhD, ATC, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “Neural Correlates of Knee Extension Exercise and Single Leg Hop Performance Following Attentionally Focused Neuromuscular Training”


Undergraduate Poster:  Holly Carrington, University of Virginia. “The Effect of Hormonal Contraceptives on Length of Recovery in Female Collegiate Athletes”

Master’s Poster:  Lilly VanDeMark, MA, LAT, ATC, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The Effect of Progressive Visual Occlusion on Postural Control Response in Those With and Without Chronic Ankle Instability”

Doctoral Poster: Cody Criss, Ohio University. “Neural Activity Differences for Combined Hip-Knee Motor Control in ACL Reconstructed Individuals”

Master’s Oral: Francesca Genoese, LAT, ATC, CES, University of Kentucky. “The Relationship Between Injury-Related Fear and Visuomotor Reaction Time in Individuals After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction”

Doctoral Oral: Esther Nolton, MEd, LAT, ATC, George Mason University. “Virginia Concussion Initiative: Stakeholder Perspectives of Disparities in Concussion Policy Implementation


Undergraduate Poster – Briana Rexrode – Lynchburg College

Master’s Poster – Jacob Hartzell, LAT, ATC – University of Kentucky

Doctoral Poster -Rachel Koldenhoven, MEd, ATC – University of Virginia

Master’s Oral – Morgan Perry– University of Evansville

Doctoral Oral – Britney Luc-Harkey, PhD, ATC – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Orthopedics Department


Undergraduate Poster – Grant Cabel – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Master’s Poster – Brad Endres, ATC, CSCS – Korey Stringer Institute / University of Connecticut

Doctoral Poster -Kevin Morris, MS, ATC – Ohio University

Master’s Oral – Andres Almeraya, ATC – Korey Stringer Institute / University of Connecticuty

Doctoral Oral – John Goetschius, PhD, ATC – University of Virginia


Undergraduate Poster – Katherine Van Wert – High Point University

Master’s Poster – Jamie Legner – Old Dominion University

Doctoral Poster -Jennifer Cuchna – Old Dominion University

Master’s Oral – Joseph Vogler – Indiana State University

Doctoral Oral – Lesley Vandermark – University of Connecticut

2011 – 2015 Winners


Undergraduate Poster – Andrea Baellow – High Point University

Master’s Poster – Tyler Oberlander – South Dakota State

Doctoral Poster -Robert Lynall – UNC Chapel Hill

Master’s Oral – Stephanie Madura – Temple University

Doctoral Oral – Dustin Grooms – The Ohio State University


Undergraduate Poster – Arthur Adkins – Saginaw Valley State University

Masters Poster – David Florea, MS, ATC – University of Toledo

Doctoral Poster – Alan Needle, PhD, ATC, CSCS – Appalachian State University

Master’s Oral – Matthew Mills, MA, ATC, PES – Stanford University

Doctoral Oral – Adam S. Lepley, MA, ATC – University of Toledo


Undergraduate Poster – Shirleah Fayson

Master’s Oral – Kimberly Gray, ATC

Master’s Poster – Stephanie M. Kulow, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Luke Donovan, MEd, ATC

Doctoral Poster – Emily Anne Hall, MS, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Leslie Cardozza

Master’s Oral – Stasia M. Burroughs, MEd, ATC, CSCS

Master’s Poster – Steven St. Thomas, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Johanna M. Hoch, MS, ATC

Doctoral Poster – Matthew Shawn Donahue, MS, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Lyndsey Ingram

Master’s Orals – Candace Leach, ATC

Master’s Posters – Masafumi Terada, ATC

Doctoral Orals – Hayley M. Ericksen, MS, ATC

Doctoral Posters – Rebecca L. Scanlon-Begalle, MS, ATC, CSCS

2006 – 2010 Winners


Undergraduate Poster – David Craig Oates, ATC

Master’s Orals – Allison Kim Master’s Posters – Ryan Sean McCann, ATC

Doctoral Orals – Shelley Linens Doctoral Posters – Brian Pietrosimone, PhD, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Jeanne Graf

Master’s Orals – Ashley Anna Reed, ATC

Master’s Posters – Emily Schlitz, ATC, LAT

Doctoral Orals – Lindsay DiStefano, MA, ATC, PES

Doctoral Posters – Jihong Park, MS, ATC, CSCS


Undergraduate Poster – Thomas Bateman

Master’s Poster – Matthew W. Rondeau, MA, ATC, LAT

Doctoral Poster – Sarah de la Motte, MA, ATC

Master’s Oral – Daniel Huffman, MEd, ATC, CSCS

Doctoral Oral – Johna Kay Register-Mihalik, MA, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Edward S. Ericksen

Master’s Poster – Lindsey Drewes

Doctoral Poster – Jason Mihalik, MS, CAT(C), ATC

Master’s Oral – Peter Fath, MEd, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Anh-Dung Nguyen, MSEd, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Ben Goerger, ATC

Master’s Poster – Stephanie Lynch, MA, ATC

Doctoral Poster – Lauren C. Kramer, PhD, ATC

Master’s Oral – Johna K. Register, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Anh-Dung Nguyen, MSEd, ATC

2001 – 2005 Winners


Undergraduate Poster – Crystal Seamon, ATC

Master’s Poster – David Tomchuk, ATC, CSCS

Doctoral Poster – Bradley T. Hayes, PhD, ATC

Master’s Oral – Rebecca lopez, MS, ATC, LAT

Doctoral Oral – Jatin Ambegaonkar, MS, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Elicia N. Bennett, ATC

Master’s Poster – Nicholas Martin, MS, ATC/L

Doctoral Poster – Todd C. Sander, PhD, ATC, PT

Master’s Oral – Eric D. McVey, MEd, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Riann M. Palmieri, PhD, ATC


Undergraduate Poster – Stephanie Paris, SAT

Master’s Poster – Amanda J. Nelson, ATC

Doctoral Poster – Brian Ragan, ATC

Master’s Oral – Steven P. Broglio, BA, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Cathy Brown, MA, ATC 2002

Undergraduate Poster – Anna M. Mychaskiw

Master’s Poster – Cheri Drysdale, MEd, ATC

Doctoral Poster – Todd A. Evans, MA, ATC, CSCS

Master’s Oral – Tricia J. Hubbard, ATC

Doctoral Oral – Kevin Tsang, PhD, ATC


Student Poster Awards sponsored by NFL Charities

First Place-Tie: Yan Ying Ju, MS, PT, ATC & Jeff W. Otte, MS, ATC

Third Place: Jessica Serwa, MS, ATC