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Athletic training staffs honored

Following the conclusion of the year, the Big South Conference awarded its Dr. Edward M. Singleton Leadership Award to all the athletic training staffs of its member institutions for their dedicated work during the 2020-21 year.

The conference formally recognized the honorees on Tuesday, May 25, as part of the league’s annual Spring Awards Banquet at The Westin Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Longwood’s staff that was recognized consisted of Carly Fullerton (assistant athletics director/sports medicine), Lindsay Bentley (assistant athletic trainer), Yu-Jin Shim (assistant athletic trainer), Jessica Siler(assistant athletic trainer), Sam Wangner (athletic trainer), Rachel Stapleford (athletic trainer) and Sean Berberich (athletic trainer).

Fullerton, a 2007 Longwood alum, also was given the Acclaimed Commitment to the Excellence of Student-Athletes (A.C.E.S.) by the Longwood Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in Longwood’s annual spring athletics award ceremony. The A.C.E.S. Award is presented to the faculty or staff member who goes above and beyond for student-athletes in their academic, athletic and personal pursuits, as well as being an advocate for student-athlete welfare.

Through a collaborative effort that involved all athletic training staffs across the league, the conference created its Return To Play policies, the COVID-19 procedures and protocols, and decisions in regards to conference championship operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to their regular sports medicine responsibilities, the staff members also administrated countless COVID-19 tests to student-athletes and coaches and facilitated health and safety measures that allowed the Big South to conduct nearly all of its regular-season competition and championships events in a safe manner.

“Having worked with our head athletic trainers since last spring on the Big South’s response to the ever-changing pandemic, I witnessed firsthand their sacrifice, work ethic and selfless dedication to Big South student-athletes,” Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander said. “If we told you the average number of hours worked by our athletic training staffs this year, especially when we had 17 sports competing at the same time, you would find it hard to believe. Yet they carried on and found a way to make it happen. The fact that Big South teams completed more than 90% of their scheduled contests is directly attributable to our athletic training staffs, who helped craft policy, implement protocols, and kept our student-athletes and staff safe. They are completely deserving of the highest leadership award the Big South presents — the Dr. Edward M. Singleton Leadership Award.”

The Singleton Leadership Award is named for the Big South’s first commissioner and is not handed out every year. Instead, the award is to recognize a former Big South student-athlete or administrator that has exhibited exemplary leadership and character during their career. This year, the Singleton Award Selection Committee waived its normal criteria in light of the extraordinary dedication of Big South athletic trainers during the pandemic.