Makayla Clarke, ATC/LAT, was named Rhode Island Athletic Trainers Association (RIATA) Athletic Trainer of the Year at the Joint Conference of RIATA and the Athletic Trainers Association of Massachusetts (ATMA). The award recognizes those who are actively involved in their community or campus, athletic training associations and promotion of the profession.
"Makayla was nominated based on her commitment to the profession of athletic training. She is the epitome of a secondary school athletic trainer," said Valerie Webber, RIATA president.
The award ceremony was held on May 24th at Bridgewater State College, and Ms. Clarke said the award means the world to her.
"I have to thank my mentors. Without them I wouldn't have this position. My kids are great student athletes and they push me to be better - it makes my job worthwhile. I hope to be someone my kids can always look up to," Ms. Clarke said.
Left to Right: Valerie Webber (RIATA President), Stephanie Potts (Mother of Maddie Potts), Makayla Clarke (award winner), Jeff Nadeau (RIATA Pres. Elect)
Ms. Clarke is the Ortho Rhode Island Athletic Trainer for Chariho High School, providing athletic training services that include injury assessment, rehabilitation and prophylactic care. She covers practices and games on site at Chariho every day from two p.m. until the last game or practice is over. Her commitment to her students was evident at a Chariho soccer game last fall when Maddie Potts collapsed and later passed away.
"Makayla showed an extraordinary level of professionalism, courage and strength while navigating grief this past fall when her athlete passed away from a brain aneurysm," said Ms. Webber.
"Students can come see me for anything - exercises, band aids, rehab instruction. I'm here for their physical needs but also social and psychological and to help them get the best benefit from sports. After everything that happened, I had to make sure all my kids were stable and able to perform at the highest level, not just physically but mentally," Ms. Clarke added.
Makayla is currently chair of RIATA's Young Professionals Committee. She joined the Ortho RI team in 2015 after receiving her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Keene State College. She completed a summer internship working alongside the WNBA Connecticut Sun basketball team. She also assisted in in the Transitional Anterior Cruciate Ligament (TACL) program, which includes 16 weeks of progressive extension of a traditional rehabilitation program that follows knee ligament reconstructive surgery.
"We're extremely proud of Makayla earning this award," said sports medicine physician, Dr. Charlotte H. Moriarty. "She's a great addition to our team, and it's clear her patients respond to her approach."