Otterbein Junior Chosen as National Athletic Trainers’ Association Representative

Posted May 20, 2021

Junior athletic training major Leah McNutt will be representing not only Otterbein, but athletic training students across the country in her new role as a representative to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). 

Leah Mcnutt  22
Leah McNutt ’22

The Wadsworth, Ohio, native learned she was a finalist for the District 4 student athletic trainer representative in December 2020, just before Christmas. NATA held virtual interviews with all the finalists and McNutt was officially offered the position in January 2021.  

McNutt will represent athletic training students across institutions in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Her role as one of only 10 district representatives nationwide is to bring news, initiatives, events, and other interesting things happening in each state’s college athletic training programs to the national organization. 

“The NATA boards need to hear about what we as athletic training students are experiencing in the classroom as well as out in the field. I need to serve as many people as I possibly can by bringing forth that information,” she said. 

Athletic Training Program Director Joan Rocks originally told McNutt about the opportunity and encouraged her to apply. Rocks recognized McNutt’s work ethic and leadership skills both in the classroom and on the field, as goalie for the women’s lacrosse team.  

Rocks believes those qualities will be an asset to NATA. 

“Leah is a great listener and ultimate team player. She knows when to speak up and respects those who are speaking. She can listen intently and then develop solutions as well as generate new ideas that will benefit the entire group,” Rocks said. “Perhaps most importantly, at the end of the day, she is a ton of fun to work with.” 

McNutt is thankful for the support and encouragement she has received from Rocks, as well as mentoring from other strong female leaders at Otterbein, including Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletic Director Dawn Stewart. Stewart selected McNutt in 2020 to be part of a group leading the student effort to “Protect the Nest” during the pandemic.

“Dawn took a chance on me and looking back I am so grateful she did. I was able to see how she could handle so many different things at once and it inspired me to become a more dedicated leader,” McNutt said. 

After her initial application, two letters of recommendation, exams, and two rounds of final interviews, McNutt has been working diligently with NATA since beginning in January. As one of the youngest representatives, she has the unique opportunity to develop her professional goals for the association longer than most. NATA usually only hires seniors and graduate students.  

Starting the position as a junior gave her an extra year to work in an area she feels needs more attention in athletic training: mental health. 

“When we talk about athletic training, we immediately jump to sports injuries, but mental health of athletes and the trainers themselves is just as important. We need to remove the stigma and discuss psychological issues more openly,” she said. 

McNutt’s goal is to present at the NATA national conference on mental health in sports and athletic training. She is hoping to bring mental health professionals to the conference as part of the programming, something that she says is needed. 

“There’s more to helping athletes than just sticking on a bandage,” she said.