History of the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society By David Adams ATC (Historian)
During the early and mid 70’s the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) encouraged states to pass legislation for the license/certification of athletic trainers at the state level. Texas was the first state to pass such legislation in the early 70’s. A group of athletic trainers in Tennessee worked on a Tennessee bill for license/certification in 1977. The trainers involved were: Gene Smith (Memphis State), Jack Redgren (Vanderbilt), Paul Bickerstaff (UT-Martin), and Tim Kerin (UT). A bill was written and sponsors were found. In a legislative committee, the athletic trainers were told that a separate license/certification board would have to been self-sustaining. The estimated cost was $14,000 a year—a little high for 20 athletic trainers in Tennessee. The bill was withdrawn.
An Ad Hoc Committee of athletic trainers meet in Nashville at Vanderbilt University, on February 6, 1977, to discuss the matter further . Those present were: T.K. Hall, Joe Warden, Tim Kerin, Jeff Daniel, George Camp, David Adams, Tommy Bates, Ray Bickerstaff, Gene Smith, Eddie Cantler, Linda Arnold, Jerry Roberson, Steve Moore, Andy Bickerstaff, Brent Fosythe, and attorney Jim Corthran. This group represented about 50 percent of NATA certified athletic trainers in Tennessee at that time. Gene Smith, Ray Bickerstaff, Tim Kerin, Jack Redgren and T.K. Wall agreed to serve on a committee to work on legislation.
This committee was the beginning of the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society (TATS). The name was suggested by Tim Kerin. TATS was formed to organize the athletic trainers in the state and to provide educational and professional development for its members. Jack Redgren was elected president and Ray Bickerstaff, vice president. Tim Kerin wrote the TATS constitution, rules and by-laws. After Ray Bickerstaff left Tennessee, David Adams was elected TATS vice president and chairperson of the Certification/Licensure Committee (August 5, 1978).
From 1978-1983 Adams worked to gain the support of various groups and to look for an existing board under which the athletic trainers could be included. In the summer of 1979, a position paper setting forth the need for the certification/licensure of Tennessee athletic trainers was written.
A timeline for the meetings and events that led to the passage of a bill for the certification/licensure of athletic trainers is given below:
• May 21, 1979. Meeting with Ed Johnson, joint secretary for the state licensing boards for the Healing Arts in Tennessee. Mr. Johnson was very helpful during the time the athletic trainers were looking for a home.
• May 21, 1979. Meeting with Joe Acher, director of the Emergency Medical Serves for Tennessee to discuss the possibility of the EMS being the state agency for athletic trainers.
• June 13, 1979. Meeting with Ms. Sally Manassah, of the Nashville Academy of Medicine, to ask for their support.
• June 3, 1980. Meeting with Ed Johnson. Our original bill and position paper were discussed. Johnson suggested talking to the Physical Therapy Board and the Board of Medical Examiners.
• June, 1980. Meeting with Don Alexander, executive director of Tennessee Medical Association, to discuss their support of athletic trainers. He suggested we meet with the Committee of Emergency Medical Services for TMA; the meeting took place on September 3, 1980.
• July 28, 1980. Meeting with the state Physical Therapy Board. It was suggested that the athletic trainers be under the PT board. The board was sympathetic, but it was just getting started; and there was no follow through on the suggestion. (Athletic trainers could have been put under the physical therapists in the beginning.)
• July 17, 1980. Meeting with Gill Gideon of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association to seek their support.
• August 16, 1980. Meeting with Tennessee Commissioner of Education Cox to seek support.
• August 24, 1980. Meeting with Board of Medical Examiners; they appointed a committee to study our plan.
• July 10, 1981. The Board of Medical Examiners felt that incorporating the Tennessee athletic trainers' certification/licensure was "not an appropriate function of the Medical Board at this time."
• November 17, 1980. Meeting with Ed Johnson; the original bill was rewritten so athletic trainers' certification/licensure could fit under an existing board.
• December 5, 1980. Meeting with the executive committee of the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) to ask for their support.
• January 5, 1983. Eddie Cantler (Memphis State), then president of the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society, discussed what TATS wanted to do with state senator Curtis Person at a basketball game. Senator Person said, "Give me your bill and I will sponsor it." The bill had to be submitted by mid February. Adams and Cantler wrote a bill in about five weeks. They used the Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Georgia bills as models. Person was the Senate sponsor. Elbert Gill (from Memphis) was the House sponsor. (Mr. Gill was a chiropractor.)
• March-April-May 1983. Legislative action—April 22 House committee; April 27 Senate committee; May 4 House committee; May 4 Senate committee; May 9 vote by Senate.
Senator Person's staff changed and deleted some things in the bill the TATS wanted and a house committee amended the bill to exclude high school athletic trainers. Adams and Cantler felt we had come too far to withdraw the bill. They planned to work to change it later; the changes were accomplished in 1985. When the bill was passed, there were 31 athletic trainers in Tennessee certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association.
During May and June of 1983, David Adams, with the help of Ed Johnson, worked on rules and regulations for the bill. The rules and regulations were approved by TATS in Atlanta on July 6, 1983
In 1983, Jerry Roberson, of East Tennessee State University, developed the curriculum for the first Athletic Training program in Tennessee.
Terry Lewis leaves University of Tennessee at Chattooga to be athletic trainer at South Carolina.
In 1985 a bill was passed to update the 1983 bill. Requirements for state certification of athletic trainers in Tennessee were made the same as those for NATA certification (in 1983, NATA changed its certification requirements). A reciprocity agreement was added to the bill. Fees by the Healing Arts Board were included in the updated bill. The new bill included high school athletic trainers. Some other word changes were made in the bill. The 1985 bill had the same sponsors in the legislature as the 1983 bill (Person and Gill).
During the summer of 1985 Dan Campbell left Vanderbilt to work in a sports medicine clinch in Madison, Wisconsin. John Norwig came to Vanderbilt from Penn State.
In 1991, Tennessee athletic trainers, spearheaded by Reg Swanson and John Smith, covered the Tennessee Sportsfest, state games in Nashville.
During the summer of 1991, David Green completed the High School and College Directory of Tennessee Athletic Trainers.
The staff at the Board of Healing Arts changed often. For a period of time, the staff had questions regarding the qualifications of applications of athletic trainers for state certification. From 1989 to 1993, David Adams reviewed applications and advised the staff regarding the completeness of applications. During this time growth was small. Adams reviewed 16 applications in 1989, 3 in 1990, 14 in 1992, and 8 in 1993.
By 1992 the state had certified 104 athletic trainers. Not all of these trainers were still in Tennessee.
Tim Kerin (UT) passed away August 2, 1992.
After passage of the 1985 amendments to the athletic training law, several problems were recognized. The definition of athletic trainer was a person who "worked under a team physician." With the growth of the out-reach programs, an athletic trainer may not have been working under a "team physician." There were other things needed to be cleaned up. For example, there was confusion about "the test" for certification. There were two tests required for certification— the NATABOC test and a jurisprudence test. The law did not distinguish clearly between the tests. Also the definition of the terms "athletic training’" and "athletic injuries" needed to be changed.
In 1985, John Norwig came to Vanderbilt from Pittsburgh; he left for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1991, where he was head athletic trainer for two of their Super Bowl championship teams. Paul Federici, who worked with John at Vanderbilt, went to the Seattle Seahawks and was the head athletic trainer there from January 1999 to July 2004. Paul is now the director of athletic training services at the University of Iowa.
On March 4, 1986, David Adams meet with the Board of Medical Examiners for clarification of whether clinical athletic trainers were covered under the law. No response was made received during the summer of 1986. A follow-up letter was sent to the Board on August 15, 1865. Finally in the Fall of 1987, more than a year later, Adams meet with the Board again, and Mr. Robert Kraemer, assistant general counsel for the Board, stated it was not clear whether athletic trainers working in clinics were included under the athletic training law.
The first TATS state meeting was held on January 18, 1992. The idea for a state meeting originated with TATS president Chuck Kimmel. Chuck asked Nick Pappas, at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, to arrange a program, get exhibitors and make local arrangements. The state meeting was at Baptist Hospital for two years. Then it moved to Vanderbilt University for two years. Nine out of the next ten years, the state meeting was held at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The 2003 state meeting was at MTSU in Murfreesboro. After 2005, the state meetings were held in motels around the state.
President Kimmel also initiation an awards program for TATS.
Chuck established the various committees for TATA, adopted the TATS logo, and established a relationship with the Tennessee Medical Association with regard to amending the Athletic Training Practice Act.
In 1993, legislation was passed to clean up the athletic training law. Changes were made in defining athletic training and athletic injuries so clinical athletic trainers would be covered under the law. Also the two examinations required for state certification, the NATABOC exam and the jurisprudence test, were clarified. Other corrections in wording were made. This legislation was championed by Nick Pappas. TATS president, Chuck Kimmel, played a major role; and help came from David Adams and others.
Tennessee hosted a Southeast Athletic Trainers' Association (SEATA) meeting in Gatlinburg in the spring of 1993. Special thanks went to Earl Anderson, Jane Steinberg, Chuck Kimmel, and David Green for their work is this regard.
In July 1993, the new TATS logo was introduced.
In 1994 TATS began presenting state awards. The awards program was initiated through the efforts of Chuck Kimmel.
In 1996, Lipscomb University established the curriculum for the second Athletic Training program in Tennessee.
In 1997 Chuck Kimmel was elected president of SEATA. Mr. Kimmel served three years as president and three more years as district executive director.
In 2000, the NATA annual convention was held at the Opryland Complex in Nashville.
In 2000, Nick Pappas; David Green, TATS president; and lobbyist Jay West championed a "clean-up" bill for the certification of athletic trainers. This bill changed "certification" to "licensure" of athletic trainers in Tennessee. The Tennessee Physical Therapist Association had some concerns about the change in the definition of athletic injuries. Pappas, Green, West, and Adams met with representatives of the TPTA to discuss their concerns. The TPTA was not fully satisfied with the new bill, but they did not oppose it in the legislative process. Nick Pappas spend a considerable amount of time working on this legislation. David Green made many trips to Nashville. Many other athletic trainers in the state helped by writing or talking to the legislators from their areas. The bill passed in the spring of 2000.
In 2002, TATS athletic trainers helped provide aid for the Music City Marathon in Nashville.
In 2003, updates of the TATS constitution and by-laws were made. Among other things, the secretary and the treasurer were made two separate offices.
In March 2005, Tennessee Governor Bredeson proclaimed March as Athletic Training Month in Tennessee.
In the summer of 2005, Nick Pappas left Tennessee to go to Florida State.
Vanderbilt University in Nashville has had many outstanding athletic trainers who have been active in the athletic training profession and TATS. Joe Warden was athletic trainer from 1946 to 1985 (see hall of fame bio). Jack Redgren, first TATS president, was athletic trainer for 10 years. Dan Campbell was TATS secretary/treasure 1985-1986. Fred Tedeschi was TATS vice president before leaving Vanderbilt for the Chicago Bulls. Mark Pasons was TATS vice president 1999-2001, and was host of the third and fourth TATS sate meetings which was held at Vanderbilt. Mark also helped with the NATABOC exam in Nashville. John Norwig was athletic trainer at Vanderbilt before leaving for the Pittsburg Steelers. Paul Federici left Vanderbilt for the Seattle Seahawks. The tradition of outstanding athletic trainers continues with Tom Bossung. Mollie Molone, who has been at Vanderbilt since 1992, was the Educational Committee-students coordinator for the 1994-1996 state meetings, TATS newsletter editor 1994-2001, and chair of the Program Committee for the 1997-1998 state meetings. Other Vanderbilt athletic trainers have been involved with hosting the NATABOC test at Vanderbilt which includes Mark Parsons, John Norwig, Paul Federici, Anne Louise McDonald and the last five years the test was given at Vanderbilt, Mike Shew and Todd Warren. Many physicians from Vanderbilt have spoke at TATS meeting and have conducted workshops and seminars which CEU were available for athletic trainers.
In 2006, the following item appeared in the Summer 2006 TATS newsletter:
With a stroke of the pen, Governor Phil Bredeson signed into law what could be one of the country’s best stand alone athletic training practice acts. The new changes which went into effect July 1, 2006, were designed to further strengthen what had become a model for others to follow and to better protect the citizens in the State of Tennessee. "This will help to strengthen and solidify our profession among the allied healthcare providers in the state of Tennessee," said Joe Erdeljac, TATS president. "We have accomplished what has been a priority for several years. A strong Board will help continue to shape the professional image of athletic training and ensure that the public receives that care form duly licensed individuals."
Immediate past president and bill author Nick Pappas commented:
"The event is the columniation of a process that began with the passage of the original practice act in 1983. David Adams and Eddie Cantler and others were instrumental in making that a reality. When I came to Tennessee in 1989, then TATS president Chuck Kimmel put me to work on what became the first of several major revisions that took place over the next eighteen years. It became my passion and now we have legislation in place that we believe will serve our profession and the public very well."
Hope Jackson, who was an attorney for Bone and McAllister and served as TATS lobbyist with Jay West, said "With the reaction of their own board, athletic trainers will be able to more efficiently and effectively deal with the issues and concerns of their own profession. They also will have increased credibility and visibility on par with other health professionals that already have their own boards. This is a wonderful thing, not only for athletic trainers, but for all of the many Tennesseans across the state that athletic trainers serve."
The changes incorporated in the 2006 law and the reasons these changes were needed are summarized below:
• They created the Board of Athletic Trainers so the issues and practice of athletic trainers currently licensed under TCA Title 63, Chapter 24, can be more directly and efficiently dealt with and they established the powers and duties of the Board.
• They empowered the Board to take action against those who employ, contract for or otherwise utilize an unlicensed individual to provide athletic training services when such individual must first be licensed under the current laws of this State.
• Also, they more clearly empowered the Board to take action against individuals who attempt to practice without a license or who use or attempt to use a revoked or suspended license.
• They more clearly gave the Board authority to take action against individuals who attempt to obtain or obtain a license to practice through misrepresentation or fraudulent means or use the title of athletic trainer without first having a license (T.C.A. Title 63, Chapter 24).
Tennessee was one of the first states to pass legislation related to the practice of athletic trainers, and it continues to have one of the strongest practice acts in the country. A total of 43 states now have statutes which govern the practice of athletic trainers; 31 of those states require licensure. When the first athletic training practice act was passed in 1983, there were only 31 athletic trainers in the State. Putting them under the authority of the Board of Medical Examiners made sense at that time. The number of athletic trainers has grown by nearly 700 percent since then, and projections indicate that growth will continue. With that growth, has come an increase in the need for the athletic training profession to have a dedicated Board to address the increased demands on compliance with the statutes already in place and the issues that face allied healthcare professionals. Over a dozen states requiring licensure have a Board of Athletic Trainers. Included in this group are the neighboring states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.
The Board of Athletic Trainers created by the 2006 bill helps ensure the safety of the public by providing for enforcement of current statues and thus protecting the public from possible harm and injury resulting from improper care that might be provided by an unlicensed and untrained individual.
The first board members were Joe Erdeljac, who was elected chair; Monroe Abram, vice chair; Janet Wilbert, Walter Fitzpatrick,III, citizen board member, and Kurt Spindler, physician board member. Board members were appointed by the Governor and began their term in June of 2007.