Kathy Dieringer, 1985 master’s graduate from EKU, has been elected president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). NATA is the professional membership association for athletic trainers and the athletic training profession. As the 15th president of NATA, Dieringer will be the second representative from EKU to take on the leadership role. Dr. Bobby Barton, professor emeritus and former EKU athletic trainer, served as NATA’s fourth president, and was Dieringer’s mentor throughout her graduate studies.
“My time at EKU provided me the incredible opportunity to be mentored professionally by a number of stellar athletic trainers and other professionals—people like Bobby Barton, Paula Turocy and Ann Uhlir,” Dieringer said. “Their impact on me is immeasurable, especially as it relates to the pursuit of excellence and servant leadership.”
As a student at EKU, Dieringer worked as a graduate assistant under Barton.
“We worked many long days and weeks, because at that time, I had only one assistant and one graduate assistant,” Barton said. “We had more sports than we do now, with field hockey, gymnastics, and swimming, in addition to current sports, so it was a real challenge for the three of us to handle.”
While providing healthcare for EKU’s 18 sports, Barton was also an active member of NATA, serving in leadership positions.
“I like to think that her observing our work here inspired her to go on and, in some way, do the same,” Barton said. Dieringer was not only an outstanding student, he recalled, but also an excellent communicator. “I leaned on her judgment regularly in performing many of my NATA duties—before, during and after my presidency.”
Dieringer will serve a three-year term, taking office as NATA’s president during the 72nd NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in June 2021 in Orlando.
“I have a passion for this profession,” Dieringer said in a Q&A with NATA. “I want to use my unique skill set and my health care and business acumen to give back to the profession that has given me so much.”
This past spring, Dieringer was also named EKU’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science Alumni of the Year.
She has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in education from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctoral degree in education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of North Texas.
About attending EKU, Dieringer said, “It was one of the best professional decisions of my life, and one I am most proud of.”
Dieringer’s more than thirty-five years in the profession includes clinical work in the collegiate setting, teaching in several athletic training programs, and the founding and co-ownership of three outpatient rehabilitation clinics near Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dieringer’s D&D Sports Med clinics employ more than 45 staff members, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches.
Dieringer has made many notable contributions to the athletic training profession, having served in various leadership positions and earning multiple awards and honors. In 2017, she was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame. She has served as president of NATA District VI, NATA board of directors, and on the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, among several other regional and national leadership roles, committees and groups.
“EKU has a long-standing tradition of producing clinicians and educators that work to give back to the profession through leadership roles at state, district and national levels,” said Dr. Matthew Sabin, EKU’s Athletic Training Program director and professor. “The quality mentorship she received while at EKU, her clinical education and the numerous years of professional service have laid the foundation for this pinnacle achievement.”