Sports Medicine Outreach

OrthoArkansas Athletic Trainers

Traci Byrd, ATC, LAT, CSCSTraci Byrd, ATC, LAT, CSCS

It wasn't a sports injury but the opportunity to attend a workshop for student athletic trainers that confirmed Traci's decision about her life's work.

"In high school, my head coach asked me to attend a student athletic trainer workshop," Traci says.  "I knew then that the combination of sports and medicine was what I wanted to do.  Athletic training is the perfect job for me."

After high school, Traci attended Arkansas State University, receiving her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training.  She has been an athletic trainer since 1997 and currently works at Central Arkansas Christian School.

"The interaction with my athletes on a daily basis is my favorite part of being an athletic trainer.  I enjoy following an injury from the time it occurs to the moment the athlete returns to participation.  Also, being a friend and mentor to high school athletes is a rewarding aspect of the job."

Among Traci's leisure time activities are golfing and spending time with family and friends.

Kathy Burl, MS, ATC, LAT

Kathy Burl, MS, ATC, LAT

Kathy’s interest in athletic training developed during her time as a high school coach as her curiosity peaked as to how a body heals following a sports injury. 

“I have always enjoyed helping people in general so finding a role where I could stay involved with athletics and influence young students in the process was a perfect fit,” she says.  “I love to share what I do with students and have had the pleasure of cultivating an interest in athletic training in high school students some of which have gone on to college and then become a colleague – I love to teach sports medicine!”
Kathy received a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in Health, PE and Recreation and Dance from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  In addition, she received a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in Adaptive PE from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Master of Science in Sports Medicine with an emphasis in Athletic Training from the United States Sports Academy.

Kathy works closely with the Arkansas Athletic Trainers Association developing guidelines, regulations and laws that govern the profession.  She is also a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association and the Southwest Athletic Trainers Association.  Currently she serves on the AATA Executive Board as Delegate at Large and on the Governor appointed Arkansas Athletic Trainers Licensing Board.  Kathy has been an athletic trainer since 1995 and was honored in 1997 as Athletic Trainer of the year in recognition of saving the life of a young athlete with a cervical spine injury. 

In her spare time, Kathy enjoys camping and spending time with family, especially her two grandchildren.  She and her husband Greg reside on a 20 acre homestead and share a special love for all things outdoors.

Christa Finney, MS, ATC, LATChrista Finney, MS, ATC, LAT

Trips to the athletic training room as an injured athlete brought Christa back to the profession on the other side of the treatment table.

"I was injured as a college athlete and spent some time in the athletic training room," she says.  "Seeing what the profession could do for athletes eventually led me back into the field of athletic training from speech-language pathology.  I have never regretted the decision."

She has been an athletic trainer since 1998 and enjoys interacting with students at Bryant High School and Middle School.  "I love their energy and how they can make you laugh even on the hardest day.  Helping them through the physical as well as mental aspect of an injury, being a friend and mentor, and making a difference in their lives is especially important to me."

Christa said it was rewarding to see one athlete return to play after a particularly hard rehab and score three touchdowns in one game.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Ouachita Baptist University and a Master of Science in Kinesiology/Athletic Training from the University of Central Arkansas.  Christa is a member of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, the Southwest Athletic Trainers' Association, and the Arkansas Athletic Trainers' Association.  She serves on the Public Relations Committee and the Arkansas High School All-Star Committee of the AATA.  She is also an American Heart Association BLS certified instructor.

Christa's hobbies include travel, outdoor sports and activities, spending time with family and friends, and working out at a local fitness center where she is a cardio-kickboxing instructor and personal trainer.

Michael McConnaughay, MS, ATC

Michael McConnaughay, MS, ATC

Becoming an athletic trainer gave Michael the ability to work with kids and be around sports – two of his favorite things in life. 

“Nothing pleases me more than seeing an athlete I have worked with step back out on the field following an injury,” says Michael.  “I enjoy the challenge that each day brings as an athletic trainer and I find it thrilling never knowing what each day will bring!”

He graduated from Henderson State University with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and a Master of Sports Administration .  While completing his Master’s program he worked as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Arkadelphia High School and moved on to become the head athletic trainer at Arkansas Baptist College.

Michael has a special love for baseball and the shoulder injuries that coincide with the sport.  He also has a strong desire to continue to grow in his knowledge of recognizing and treating concussions as it is a growing concern across all fields of sports. 

Off the sidelines, Michael spends much of his leisure time in the stands watching football, baseball and basketball as well as spending time with his wife Lauren.

Whitney Sullivan, ATC

Whitney Sullivan, ATC

Whitney took a different route to becoming an athletic trainer than those who play sports, are injured, go to therapy, and find their life's profession. A friend from her hometown introduced her to the field.

"When I entered the introductory class at the University of Central Arkansas, I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into. Nevertheless, I quickly fell in love with the idea of working amidst the athletic population. I realized that I loved studying anatomy and performing injury evaluations. The rest is history."

Working with the athletes at Benton High School, Whitney says she gains satisfaction in educating them on injury prevention and the process of moving them back to the field of play. In doing so, she says she often uses her background in anatomy and physical therapy.

Whitney received a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from UCA in 2008 and became board certified and licensed shortly thereafter. She is a member of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers' Association and the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

In her leisure time, Whitney enjoys reading, softball, ultimate Frisbee, hiking and "anything that keeps me active."

What is a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC)?

Every year thousands of students participate in interscholastic athletics. Unfortunately, many of them also suffer injuries as a result of their participation.

A certified athletic trainer (ATC) is an educated and skilled allied healthcare professional specializing in athletic injuries, specifically in the following domains:

  • Prevention of athletic injuries
  • Recognition, evaluation, and immediate care of athletic injuries
  • Rehabilitation and reconditioning of athletic injuries
  • Healthcare administration
  • Professional development

In an effort to treat injuries more effectively, certified athletic trainers work as part of a complete health care team that consists of a licensed physician, other healthcare professionals, athletic administrators, coaches, and parents.

Athletic trainers are certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification (NATABOC). They must earn a degree from an accredited athletic training curriculum and pass a three part test administered by the BOC. They are also required to stay current in the advancements in athletic training by obtaining continuing education credits.