Northwest College trainer heads state athletic trainers association
When she accepted a nomination last November to serve as the president of the Wyoming Athletic Trainers Association, Northwest College Head Athletic Trainer Liz Flom wasn’t really expecting to win the ensuing election. She did, and now she’s gradually adjusting to her new role.
“The old president’s two terms had expired and when they asked for nominations, I was one of two people,” said Flom. “It’s a real honor and I’m definitely excited at this opportunity due to where I am in my career. Some Hall of Fame people have come out of our state and our district, so I feel like I have some really big shoes to fill. It’s an opportunity I feel really excited about.”
While Flom is still learning everything that her new position entails and balancing that with her continued role in the Northwest College athletics department, she’s gradually getting up to speed on things.
The Wyoming Athletic Trainers Association is a state-level organization, essentially a scaled-down version of the broader National Athletic Trainers Association. The national organization sets goals and a vision while it is left to the district and state organizations to execute the policy.
One recent example of the NATA and WATA in action has been the push for greater awareness in recent years for student-athletes, coaches and school officials of the symptoms of and prevention methods for concussions. Concussion safety has been one of the group’s primary focuses in recent years.
Another has been the push to get an athletic trainer into every high school in the nation to allow for quicker evaluation, screening and treatment of injuries that student-athletes may sustain.
“Just in the four years that I’ve been here, you can see that push down through the college level and it is starting to take hold in the high schools,” said Flom. “It needs to trickle down more, and I think there are ways to make it happen. Ultimately, it saves the school money and helps the athletes.”
Another issue coming to the forefront of the group’s attention now is a growing concern over sudden cardiac arrest and cardiac deaths among athletes.
“There’s a lot of talk about including cardiac screening as part of a pre-participation physical,” said Flom. “There’s a lot of debate right now about whether it’s worth it, is there a screening process out there that might show who needs further testing. It’s a little ways off, because the primary focus is still on the concussion issue, but that’s an area where there’s a lot of national concern and discussion right now.”
The group has also put together what it calls a student-athlete’s Bill of Rights — a series of principles it feels student-athletes are entitled to with regard to ensuring equipment, practice and playing conditions all maximize athlete safety and that coaching and school personnel are properly trained in identifying and dealing with injuries that may occur among participants. To help facilitate those principles, the national organization has developed a SAFE Sports Schools program.
“It’s a certification process that denotes schools are meeting all the criteria identified as important by the national organization,” said Flom. “It’s kind of similar to what AAA does with hotels, only specifically designed for schools and athletic training.”
Flom is believed to be the first female president of the WATA. She is also pretty certain that she is the youngest person to hold the office, but that doesn’t surprise her as there is currently a youthful wave washing through the profession.
“One of my goals and challenges coming in as president is trying to get everyone on board and caught up to what’s going on at the district and national levels,” said Flom. “We have a lot of young members across the state currently.”
Wyoming’s geography also poses an issue for Flom. The group’s 65 Wyoming members are “spread out all over the place,” she notes. In that regard however, Flom’s early efforts seem to be paying dividends.
“I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, being young and new,” said Flom. “We had one of the largest turnouts we’ve had at our state meeting at the district conference this spring though. I’m really excited.”
There have also been surprises for Flom as she adjusts to the new role.
“I didn’t realize when I was elected that the position came with additional responsibilities beyond the state level,” said Flom.
One such responsibility was that, as president, Flom also automatically received a seat on the board of directors for Wyoming’s district, which also includes the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Again, Flom is the youngest person to serve on that body.
Another role Flom wasn’t expecting was serving with the state advisory committee, which deals with legislative issues at the state level.
“For instance, we had the youth concussion bill passed,” Flom said of recent action by the group. “The SAC played a key role in helping raise awareness of the issues and communicating the need. We get a lot of guidance from the national level telling us how to execute things on a state level.”
For the Trappers’ head athletic trainer, it’s an opportunity she’s enthusiastic to pursue.
“I’m still trying to figure out what all I need to know,” Flom admits. “But I’m honored and excited by the opportunity.”