AT of the Year Bios

​Sara Whiteside

This year’s Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year award recipient not only serves as a health care provider to athletes in the high school setting but also is a role model and advocate for her students.  Sara Whiteside received her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from James Madison University. She has dedicated the last 13 years as a certified athletic trainer in the secondary school setting. Currently, she serves as the Head Athletic Trainer at Chancellor High School in Spotsylvania County. 

Whiteside believes in supporting better work/life balance for athletic trainers. She was instrumental in revising the Spotsylvania County Athletic Trainer’s job description to allow athletic trainers to focus their time and energy on providing care for their athletes and no longer requiring them to teach sports medicine classes. Whiteside has also created a Mothers group on Facebook for working athletic trainers to connect about professional and personal issues. Another one of her accomplishments includes serving on the Virginia Board of Medicine’s Advisory Board on Athletic Training as the Vice Chair where she represents the secondary school setting. She consistently shows her dedication to protect the Athletic Training profession and community and encourages members of the Board of Medicine to discuss important topics that impact the field.  She also serves on VATA’s Secondary School Committee.

Whitesides’s passionate devotion to her athletes and community has led her to be a well-respected member of the athletic training profession and earned her the honor of being this year’s VATA Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.


Scott Lawrenson

We are delighted to recognize Scott Lawrenson as this year’s VATA College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year.   Lawrenson has over 30 years of athletic training experience in various settings. He spent 19 years with the New York Mets, with the last 8 years in roles as the assistant

and head athletic trainer.  He then served as the Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Washington Nationals before working as an Associate Athletic Trainer at Liberty University.  Clearly, his experience has provided him with a unique insight for his athletic training students, student-athletes, and colleagues. He has served as the Head Athletic Trainer at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA since 2012.


Lawrenson exemplifies a commitment to personal integrity, providing the highest quality of care, and creating a trusting relationship with his athletes in order to bring them back to their sport as safely and quickly as possible. He treats all of his student-athletes with an unbiased demeanor and they know he sincerely cares for their personal well-being and health.  He has a strong work ethic and is widely respected by his coworkers. He serves as a mentor to all athletic training students he encounters by sharing with them his vast knowledge of athletic training as well as advice for their future careers. Lawrenson believes in helping every student and athlete succeed and that athletic trainers have the unique opportunity to have a positive impact on athletes’ lives.


Lawrenson’s skill and knowledge is demonstrated through his commitment to provide the best care for his athletes. He is the very definition of a leader in the athletic training field and therefore is this year’s VATA College Athletic Trainer of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.

Educator of the Year


Jamie Frye

Dr. Frye is the program director for the athletic training education program at James Madison University.   She received her bachelor’s degree from Coe College, her master’s degree from Indiana State University, and her PhD from the University of Virginia. 


Dr. Frye’s positive influence on the JMU athletic training program is extensive.  For several years she served as both the Clinical Coordinator and Program Director.  She worked tirelessly in both of these roles and not only maintained the quality of the program, but improved it.  She created an extensive Preceptor Education Program that has allowed preceptors to strengthen their mentoring strategies with students and also to learn new proficiencies, providing over 30 CEU opportunities.


Dr. Frye not only values a strong education for her students, but also seeks out professional opportunities to allow them to have a well-rounded clinical experience.  In 2013, she took a group of students, the only group from Virginia, to volunteer with the medical staff at the Boston Marathon.  There was an outpouring of comments from organizers and other volunteers praising how the students and Dr. Frye handled the events of that day following the bombings.  This is a direct reflection on Dr. Frye’s ability to guide, mentor and educate athletic training students.  She has continued to bring students to the Boston Marathon to volunteer as well as the Across the Bay 10k race.  In addition, she has maintained the impressive standard that has come to be expected of JMU students – a 100% pass rate on the BOC exam for the past 5 years.  Return to AT of the Year page.


Matt Hoch

We are pleased to announce that the VATA Researcher of the Year Award goes to Dr. Matt Hoch. 


Dr. Hoch received his undergraduate degree from East Stroudsburg University and a masters degree from Ohio University.  In 2011 he completed his doctoral studies within the Rehabilitation Sciences program at the University of Kentucky.  During his tenure at Kentucky, he was awarded the NATA Foundation Doctoral Scholarship and the Wright Scholarship from the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky.  He also received the Robinson Graduate Research Award for his outstanding doctoral research. 


Since then, he has served as an Assistant Professor and Research Director within the Post-Professional Athletic Training Program at Old Dominion University.  In the past 5 years, Dr. Hoch has 29 peer-reviewed publications, including projects on his research line of chronic ankle instability and has had many mentoring opportunities with masters and doctoral students.  In addition, he has over 50 peer-reviewed abstracts at national and international conferences to his credit. 


Dr. Hoch’s contagious enthusiasm, sharp intelligence, strong work ethic, and positive attitude have contributed to his success as a scholar.  To quote one of his references, “Matt is a young investigator with great potential.  He has the drive and knowledge to be a leader for the State of Virginia, District III, and at the National level”. Return to AT of the Year page.



Jessie Shanks

This year’s Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year is Jessie Shanks.  Shanks received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in health and physical education with a concentration in athletic training and health fitness from Frostburg State University. She also has a Master’s of Science degree in human performance from Frostburg State. 


Previous to her current position, she served as an athletic trainer for Union Memorial Sports Medicine and River Hill High School in Maryland. Currently, she is in her 11th year as the athletic trainer for Forest Park High School.  She has been an approved clinical instructor and preceptor for the George Mason University ATEP program for the past six years.  Shanks serves as a mentor to all of her students, providing them opportunities to develop as young professionals. She also serves as the athletic training coordinator for Sentara Sports Medicine and is responsible for organizing athletic training coverage for a variety of community youth sport events.


In addition, Shanks is involved in raising money for breast cancer research through many charity runs and by organizing “pink games” at Forest Park.  Most notably, this past winter Shanks was involved in the emergency care of a collapsed student athlete at a regional wrestling tournament. The student was unresponsive and did not have a pulse. Shanks was the first on the scene to administer life saving measures until EMS arrived. Because of her efforts and quick actions, the athlete was able to make a full recovery.  Her dedication to the profession, as well as her caring nature and passion towards her athletes are just a few of the reasons that Jessie Shanks is this year’s VATA Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.

Lance Fujiwara

We are delighted to recognize Lance Fujiwara as this year’s VATA College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year.  Fujiwara received an undergraduate degree from Oregon State University and has earned two master’s degrees from the University of Virginia.  In 1987 he received a master’s degree in education and in 1998 he received a master’s in Counselor Education with an emphasis in Higher Education.  In 1987, he started working at the Virginia Military Institute as an Assistant Athletic Trainer.  Now in his 27th year at VMI, Fujiwara is the Head Athletic Trainer, Director of Sports Medicine and Associate Athletic Director.  In addition to his years of service at VMI, Fujiwara has been a clinical instructor for the University of Virginia, Western Carolina University and Longwood University.  He is deeply invested in each graduate student he supervises and has been described as the “best boss they’ve had” by many of the athletic trainers that have worked under him.  As a preceptor he has and still provides an excellent example for young athletic trainers to strive toward.  In addition, he is a member of the McCue Sports Medicine Society and on the editorial board of the journal “Training & Conditioning”.  It is in reflection of these outstanding accolades that make Fujiwara so deserving of this award.  Return to AT of the Year page.


Candace Parham

We are pleased to announce that the VATA Educator of the Year Award goes to Candace Parham.  Parham received her Bachelors of Science degree in physical education with a concentration in sports medicine from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in exercise, fitness, and health promotion from George Mason University.  She is in her 7th year with the GMU Athletic Training Program and has served as a faculty member and clinical education coordinator.  Parham teaches four of the practicum courses for the GMU AT program, instructing students on the foundational behaviors of professional practice as an athletic trainer. Her courses help students explore cultural competence, ethical practice, and a team approach to athletic training.  Her students look-up to her as a mentor and a role model and they can always count on her to have a smile on her face and to share her pearls of wisdom.  She has been instrumental in increasing the involvement of the ethnic minority student population in the GMU athletic training program through the Bolstering Excellence in Athletic Training Students, or “BEATS” program.  This program pairs ethnic minority ATEP students with practicing health care professionals of similar minority status. The inaugural year of the BEATS program saw an overwhelming success rate of 90% of the students remaining in the major. The dedication to her students and her desire to see them succeed are among the many reasons that Candace Parham is this year’s VATA Educator of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.

Jatin Ambegaonkar

The recipient of this year’s VATA Researcher of the Year award is Dr. Jatin Ambegaonkar.  Dr. Ambegaonkar received a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Mumbai, India.  In 2003, he earned a Masters in Sports Injury Prevention & Management from Springfield College and in 2007 earned a doctorate in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.   He currently serves as an assistant professor at George Mason University and is the Academic Program director for Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion as well as an instructor in the Athletic Training Program.


Dr. Ambegaonkar is the founding director of the Sports Medicine Assessment Research and Testing (SMART) Laboratory and the GMU Performing Arts Medicine Program.  He currently serves at the co-director for the SMART Laboratory.   Over the tenure of his career, he has had almost 100 peer reviewed publications, abstracts and presentations and has been awarded nearly one million dollars in grant funding.  He is an associate editor for the International Journal of Athletic Training and Therapy, on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, and serves on the Research Committee of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.


Dr. Ambegaonkar has received a variety of awards over the years for his contributions in research and currently serves as a Co-chair for the VATA Annual Meeting Planning Committee.  Through leadership, grantsmanship, and service, Dr. Ambegaonkar has set himself apart as this year’s VATA Researcher of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.


Breanne Piatt

Breanne Piatt received her bachelors degree in athletic training from the University of Connecticut and a masters degree in athletic training from Indiana State University. During her years of experience, Ms. Piatt has served as the assistant athletic trainer at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and the assistant athletic trainer at Lynchburg College. Currently, she is the head athletic trainer at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, VA.


During her time at Brookville High School, Ms. Piatt formed a team of key individuals to create the Concussion Management Team. This team is fundamental in addressing the diagnosis and treatment of concussions for high school athletes. She has gained the trust and support of the staff, faculty, and students at Brookville as well as developed essential relationships with area healthcare professionals. She dedicates her time during the day, evenings, and on weekends to ensure that her athletes receive top of the line treatment.


Ms. Piatt exemplifies a strong work ethic and dedication to athletic training at Brookville High School. She is a positive role model and mentor to all of the students and student athletes she comes into contact with. Return to AT of the Year page.


Sue Saliba

We are pleased to announce that the VATA Educator of the Year Award goes to Dr. Susan Saliba. Dr. Saliba has been on faculty at the University of Virginia since 1989. She currently holds the rank of a tenured Associate Professor in the Curry School of Education. Dr. Saliba teaches both in the undergraduate kinesiology program and in the post-professional master's degree program. In addition to teaching, Sue mentors many students on their thesis and dissertation projects. She has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and book chapters, and has been an invited speaker to local groups as well as state, national and international conferences. Sue was selected for the NATA Service award in 2004 and as a Fellow of the NATA in 2011. A colleague summarizes it best by stating Sue is a true leader and inspires those around her to provide the absolutely best educational experience to students at all levels. Return to AT of the Year page.


Jenna Page

We are delighted to recognize Jenna Page as this years VATA College/University Athletic Trainer of the Year. Ms. Page is the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at Longwood University. She began her tenure at Longwood as an Assistant Athletic Trainer in 2007 upon completion of her graduate studies at the University of Virginia. However, due to her professionalism, strong work ethic, and administrative skills, she was quickly promoted to Associate Athletic Trainer and Heath Athletic Trainer before serving in her current position. Ms. Page has been instrumental in the transition of Longwood to a NCAA D1 program by creating policies and procedure manuals, facilitating relationships and contracts with MDs, implementing a database for documentation, and promoting staff cohesion. In addition, Ms. Page serves as a preceptor for the Athletic Training Education Program and has found a way to success-oriented environment for students while still giving optimal care to the student-athletes under her care. Ms. Page has shown an incredible ability to take difficult circumstances and find success in the midst of them. It is in reflection of these outstanding professional and personal characteristics that make Ms. Page so deserving of this award. Return to AT of the Year page.


Joe Hart

The recipient of this years VATA Researcher of the Year award is Dr. Joe Hart. Dr. Hart is currently an assistant professor of Kinesiology and Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia. He also has an academic appointment in the Curry School of Education where he teaches and mentors graduate students in the Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Program. There arent many individuals who you can say read SPSS manuals for pleasure. But Dr. Hart is one of them. He has been on the cutting edge of research related to quadriceps muscle inhibition, knee function, and rehabilitation and mechanics related to osteoarthritic changes, to name a few. He has secured and been the prime investigator on multiple hundred thousand dollar grants while at UVA. He is the co-director of the Exercise and Sport Injury Laboratory at UVA and has mentored many young athletic trainers into becoming scholarly clinicians. Dr. Hart has authored or co-authored over 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented at multiple professional symposiums throughout the country. He is currently on the editorial board of the Journal of Athletic Training and Athletic Training & Sports Health Care as well as serving on the AOSSM Research Committee and as a NIH grant reviewer. And if thats not enough, he is the Program Co-Chair for this outstanding VATA conference. Through leadership, grantsmanship, and service, Dr. Hart has set himself apart as this years VATA Researcher of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.



Jay Sedory

I am pleased to announce that this years VATA Clinical Emerging Practices athletic trainer of the year isJay Sedory. Jayis an athletic trainer for The Basic School, a program within the United States Marine Corps. On a daily basis, he spends his time treating and rehabilitating injured Marines and Marine recruits. In addition to being a wonderful clinician, Jay is passionate about the current grassroots effort to educate others on the athletic training profession and how athletic trainers can be of value in the military and other emerging settings. In just a few short years, he has already had countless opportunitiesto educate a large audience about this subject and has presented various topics to military leaders as well. Mr. Sedory has taken an active role in mentoring athletic training students at the iLead symposium and has previously served as District III's inaugural member of the Young Professionals Committee. He is currently completing the NATA's STAR Tracks leadership development program and was the co-founder of the Public Safety Athletic Trainers' Society. Lastly, Jay is the current president-elect of the VATA and has already been making his mark with several new projects and undertakings. Return to AT of the Year page.




John Reynolds

John Reynolds received his bachelor's degree in athletic training from Ithaca College and a master's degree in athletic training from Indiana State University. He has served as the head athletic trainer at Marshall High School since 1997. During his time in the Fairfax County Public Schools district, John has become a leader and a professional that other athletic trainers look up to for advice.


His dedication and commitment to student-athlete care is evident in his daily practice and involvement on the State, District, and National level. John has been involved with the Appropriate Medical Care for Secondary School Aged Athletes Task Force and Writing team. He worked diligently with the Department of Education and Department of Health to develop Senate Bill 652 with a significant focus on the involvement of athletic trainers and the care of athletes with concussions. John is passionate about educating the public on the safety of youth and scholastic athletes.


John has not only served on various Secondary School Committees, but is also a former VATA president. He serves as an ACI for the George Mason University athletic training program. John is a positive professional role model for students entering the athletic training profession. Return to AT of the Year page.

Debbie Bradney

What makes Dr. Debbie Bradney stand out among the rest is her dedication and commitment to each of her students. Dr. Bradney is the Athletic Training Department Chair and Program Director for Athletic Training and Exercise Physiology at Lynchburg College. Since coming to Lynchburg College in 2002, Dr. Bradney has embodied a model educator who sets herself apart by her effectiveness in the classroom, as a scholar and as a citizen and colleague. She has presented at numerous state, regional, and national conferences, has been well-published in peer-reviewed journals, and continues to give of her professional service to Athletic Training committees. She has shown excellent leadership skills as she has guided growing Athletic Training and Exercise Physiology programs. But most notable is her daily commitment to her students. Through innovative teaching styles, positive professor-student relationships, and a personable demeanor, she has made each student feel special because they know she cares for them as more than an athletic training student, but as a person studying to be an athletic trainer. Return to AT of the Year page.


Ian Rogol

Ian Rogol began his career in athletic training in 1994 at James Madison University. He then went on to receive his master of education degree in athletic training/sports medicine from the University of Virginia in 1996. During his many years of experience, Ian has served as the head baseball athletic trainer at UVA as well as an athletic trainer at many high schools in the Charlottesville area. Currently, Ian is serving as the head athletic trainer at the University of Mary Washington.


In the past year at UMW, Ian has transformed the athletic training and sports medicine department into a well run and exceptional program. Ian has gained the trust and support of the staff, coaches, and most importantly the athletes at Mary Washington. Not only has Ian worked on developing relationships with the athletes, he has also developed a strong relationship with the student health services at UMW, local orthopedic medical practices, and other health care professionals. Ian has been key in implementing protocols for concussion management and catastrophic injuries. He also serves as an ACI for the George Mason University athletic training program.


Ian Rogol demonstrates daily how athletic training services can benefit all athletes. He exemplifies a strong work ethic and dedication not only to the University of Mary Washington but to athletic training as a profession. Return to AT of the Year page.


Shane Caswell

We are pleased to announce that the VATA Researcher of the Year Award goes to Dr. Shane Caswell. Dr. Caswell is the Department Chair of the Division of Health and Human Performance at George Mason University. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research, and Testing laboratory at GMU. Dr. Caswell has published over 18 articles in multiple journals and has made over 40 professional presentations, both nationally and internationally. His research efforts have secured over 1 million dollars in research grant funding over the past 5 years. The focus of his research is on scholastic and youth sport, with particular emphasis on helmets and concussions in sport. One current innovative research project involves collaboration with a team of physicians, biochemists, biologists, and athletic trainers examining the presence of concussion biomarkers in saliva. In addition to his research efforts, he also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Athletic Training and the International Journal of Athletic Training and Therapy. Return to AT of the Year page.


Robert Liebau

The recipient of this year's VATA Clinical and Emerging Practice Award is Robert Liebau. Bob has been at the University of Mary Washington for the past 25 years. He served as the first Head Athletic Trainer at UMW, formerly Mary Washington College, from 1986-2003. Currently serving as the Associate Director of Campus Recreation and the Director of the Fitness Center at UMW, Bob founded the University’s wellness program and has expanded his sports medicine outreach to the university students, staff, and club sports. He is also involved in a variety of projects providing wellness information to both the university and local community.


Recently, Bob has developed a unique program at UMW working with club sport athletes and concussion management. Throughout the years, he has been actively involved with the VATA and has served as a presenter on numerous occasions. Return to AT of the Year page.


Jen Armstrong
Jen Armstrong currently serves as the Head Athletic Trainer and Teacher at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, VA.  This is  her 12th year at Glass and 16th year certified. Jen teaches Athletic Training 1 & 2 and provides athletic training services to over 750 athletes on 36 teams. She is the Lead on the LCS Division-Wide Concussion Management Team.  Jen facilitated the application process for Glass to receive the distinction of NATA Safe Sports School, 1st Team for 2017-2019.  Jen proudly serves as a Preceptor for both Liberty University and Lynchburg College athletic training students. She is also an Adjunct Instructor for two courses at Central Virginia Community College.

Armstrong graduated from Waynesburg University in 2002, with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and an Exercise Science minor. In 2003, she earned her MS in Athletic Training from California University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, she obtained a Post-Graduate Professional VA teaching license with endorsements in Health/PE K-12 and Sports Medicine.  Prior to moving to Lynchburg, Jen was the Assistant Athletic Trainer / Instructor at Urbana University (OH) for 3 years and grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA. In her free time, Jen enjoys spending time with family, being at the beach, and spreading awareness about kidney disease and organ donation. Jen was a living kidney donor in 2012 and loves sharing the story and educating people about the process! Return to AT of the Year page.

Chase Hale

Charles “Chase” W. Hale IV, ATC, EdD, LAT, ATC is an associate professor at Bridgewater College, Virginia.  He received his bachelor’s degree in health science (concentration in athletic training) in 1996 and a master’s degree in health science education (minor in higher education) in 1999, both from James Madison University.  In 2015, he completed his doctorate of education degree in educational leadership from Shenandoah University.  Dr. Hale has been a member of the faculty at Bridgewater College since 2002 and currently teaches within the athletic training program and the department of health and human sciences.  While at the College, he also served in a duel role of clinical education coordinator and clinical athletic trainer with a variety of athletic teams over the years up until he became the athletic training program director in 2016.  His research interests include the mentorship of athletic training students and pedagogical methods for athletic training psychomotor skill performance.  His outside interests include spending time with his family, photography, and bird watching. Return to AT of the Year page.


Danny Carroll
Danny Carroll has been the athletic trainer at Stonewall Jackson High School in Shenandoah County, Virginia since 2008.  He earned his undergraduate degree in athletic training from Averett University and completed his Master of Education degree at The University of Virginia.

Danny also serves as a preceptor for James Madison University’s Athletic Training Education Program.  In her nomination letter, Dr. Jamie Frye said the following of him, "Danny has taken students every semester since then (2012) and has become a commonly requested preceptor despite the 30 minute drive students must make to get there. Students describe Danny as extremely caring and knowledgeable. He cares about their well-being both as a person and as a student."

In addition to these things, Danny has been an active VATA member for years.  He has served on several committees and task forces, as well as multiple terms as a regional representative. Danny's dedication to his athletes, the profession of athletic training in the secondary school setting, and educating the next generation of athletic trainers are why he has earned the distinction of being the 2017 Vito Perriello Secondary Schools Athletic Trainer of the Year. Return to AT of the Year page.