(Neb.)- CSC's Watt Wins RMAC Athletic Trainer Award
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Chadron State College's Don Watt has been named the 2018-19 Wayne Barger Athletic Trainer of the Year, announced on Thursday by the conference office.
The award was first established in 2017-18 and was named after former Fort Lewis College Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Sports Medicine Wayne Barger.
This award is presented to the head athletic trainer who demonstrates commitment to the ideals set forth by the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) and member institutions and acts ethically to assure proper health and safety for the student-athletes under their care. Each head athletic trainer submits one vote for this award and cannot vote for themselves.
Watt, a native of Upton, Wyoming, is a highly regarded head athletic trainer. His career spans 35 years as an athletic trainer for Chadron State, University of Arkansas at Monticello, and Jenks High School. Thirty-one of those years have been spent at Chadron State.
"When I found out that I would be receiving the Wayne Barger Athletic Trainer of the Year Award, I felt very honored and privileged," said Watt. "This award would not have been possible without the help I have received along the way from my mentor Dr. Ron VanDam at Central Missouri State University as well as my peers throughout the RMAC."
In August 2018, Watt had surgery on his esophagus and stomach. A few days later, instead of having a successful recovery, Watt was quickly becoming ill due to a post-surgery complication. Watt had surgery again to correct the problem, and since then, has been on a long road towards recovery.
During his absence, Watt credits Eagles athletic trainers Lisa Welsch and Karen Stone, along with graduate and student staff, for temporarily heading the department and going beyond her job requirements to provide the utmost care for the student-athletes.
"RMAC athletic trainers are what I consider my rather large extended family," added Watt. "They are always there when you need something. Last fall I truly needed their support and they reached out in so many ways, such as phone calls, prayers, and promises to help my assistants and Chadron State teams in any way they could. I truly love each and every one of these devoted individuals. If it were up to me, each and every RMAC athletic trainer would be receiving this award, but since they can't, I will accept it proudly in their names."
Throughout his career Watt has been recognized at the local, state, regional, and national levels for his service. He received the Nebraska State Athletic Trainer Association (NSATA) 20-Year Award in 2014. He was inducted into the Chadron State College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015 and was named the NSATA George F. Sullivan Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2017. Last summer, Watt was the recipient of the National Athletic Trainer Association (NATA) Service Award.
Today, Watt also teaches safety and first aid and care, and prevention of injuries courses, having been elevated to full professor in 2008.
Watt has always placed his student-athletes first, while providing excellent care and his colleagues recognize his compassion and dedication to this profession.
Here are some comments made by peers in his profession, around the conference:
"There were so many things that Don did that no one knew about [despite his illness]. He does so much for this conference and the field of athletic training."
"…this past fall, [he overcame] a long recovery and returned to his position as Head Athletic Trainer."
"He has touched many lives and helped mentor many student-athletes and athletic trainers. With everything he went through this year, he still wanted to be back at work. That shows true commitment and dedication to his job."
"Don has always had a willing ear to listen to issues, and ideas about the athletic training world. He has been a mentor to many of us on a lot of different levels."
Watt will be honored at the 2019 RMAC Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet on Friday, July 12 at the Colorado Springs Marriott. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.RMACSPORTS.org/HOF2019.
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