For the Review
Among the many students who move in and out of the Linfield Treatment Center, is a woman of unsurpassed compassion and merit.
Tara Lepp, professor of health and human performance and head athletic trainer, was recognized for her accomplishments by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association with the Athletic Trainer Service Award on Feb. 18.
The award embodies her work with the establishment of the reputed Linfield Athletic Training Program and her dedication to the global community.
“I was shocked and honored to receive this award,” Lepp said.
According to the NATA Web site, the Athletic Trainer Service Award honors members who have made a significant difference in the athletic training profession and the association. The focus of the award is service at the local, state and national level.
Lepp has exceeded the requirements of the award through her work at Linfield as head athletic trainer, professor, faculty adviser to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and her contributions internationally. Lepp has been involved with FCA at Linfield since 1985 and was also part of the FCA community at both her alma maters.
Lepp attended California State University in Chico, Calif., and graduated in 1980 with an undergraduate degree in physical education with an emphasis on athletic training.
After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1982 with a masters degree in physical education, Lepp began working at Linfield as the first full-time certified athletic trainer.
When Lepp first worked at Linfield, students could become an athletic trainer by completing an internship program or graduating from an accredited college.
Lepp worked to accredit the Linfield program after the internship route was eliminated.
“Building the program has been a challenge, an exciting challenge,” Lepp said. “After a handful of students in the beginning, I have watched hundreds of students come through (it).”
Linfield has one of three accredited athletic training programs in Oregon, along with George Fox University and Oregon State University.
“She wants us to do our best and excel, and learning from her has been a great experience,” senior Caitlyn Jordan said. “She is a great inspiration.”
Currently, there are 20 students in the athletic training program and four certified athletic trainers.
Lepp’s contributions to the local and district community include numerous presentations given to conferences, high schools and colleges.
One of the most satisfying aspects of receiving the award is it recognizes her international involvement, Lepp said.
Through Open Arms International, she has traveled with teams to Africa. Most recently, she has been involved with organizing the construction of a medical clinic in Kenya. Lepp has provided healthcare in Rwanda and Kenya since 2005.
“I think this award shows that she is dedicated not just to her profession, but to helping the community at large,” senior Angie Nichols said. “She has created so much at Linfield, but hasn’t stopped there. She wants to help others at a greater level and it is amazing to see her dedication.”
This past year, Lepp invited students from Linfield, George Fox and Whitworth University to apply for a position on a team of 25 to build an orphanage and the medical clinic in Kenya.
“We are providing health care for, as we say, ‘the poorest of the poor,’” Lepp said.