Tara Lepp, head athletic trainer and professor of health and human performance, received the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Service Award in February. The award goes annually to a NATA member for his or her contributions to the athletic training profession and the association.
Lepp, a NATA member for the last 27 years, has been a long-time volunteer in organizations including Special Olympics and Open Arms International, which provides healthcare at medical clinics in countries such as Rwanda and Kenya.
“Working with special populations and people who are in poor and desperate situations in their lives makes you grateful for what you have,” Lepp said.
Her volunteer work has also helped her become a more compassionate athletic trainer.
“One week I’m holding a dying baby in my hands, and the next week I’m helping a student with a sprained ankle,” she said. “Both are critical situations to those people.”
On a local level, Lepp served as state representative for the NATA Research and Education Foundation and the vice president of the Oregon Athletic Trainers Society. She has given conference presentations including “Neurological Assessment of Head Injuries,” “The Neurodynamic Approach to Assessment and Rehabilitation of Throwing Injuries,” “What’s Lunch? Scheduling Strategies to Avoid Burnout” and “Close Your Eyes: Women Coming Through.” Lepp, who has been at Linfield since 1982, received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico and her master’s from the University of Oregon.
Lepp currently teaches athletic training students in their clinical experience and the classroom. She also teaches an Inquiry Seminar for freshmen students. This summer, she will lead two Open Arms International teams to Africa to provide healthcare to the poor. She is excited to have students from Linfield and Whitworth College join her and others from the United States and the United Kingdom on those teams.
“I think it will help them develop a global perspective and realize that they can make a difference halfway around the world,” said Lepp.