Years of dedication to athletic training education at North Central College and to the profession have resulted in special recognition for Heidi Matthews, associate professor of health and physical education and director of the athletic training education program.
In November, Matthews was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame at the annual state meeting and symposium in Lisle, IL. “I had no idea my coworkers had nominated me and it’s really a great honor,” says Matthews. “It’s very humbling to have your body of work recognized at that level. But to me, this program is about the students and I’m just thankful to our current students and alumni for all they’ve done and accomplished.”
Among Matthews’ nominators was Amanda Gacek ’03, instructor of health and physical education and head athletic trainer at North Central. “It’s hard to find someone who’s so passionate about what they do on so many levels,” says Gacek. “She not only inspires the athletic training students here but she’s a leader in the profession. She’s very generous with her time and commitment.”
Matthews has presided over the development of an accredited program at North Central, which received initial accreditation in 2002 from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Students must graduate from an accredited program to be eligible to sit for the national certification exam, and certification is required to practice as an athletic trainer. The program is currently in the final stages of re-accreditation, which involved an extensive self-study and site visit during 2007-2008. “They look at every facet of the program, the curriculum, clinical education, staff and instructors and our affiliated sites,” explains Matthews.
Over the years, North Central has graduated dozens of athletic trainers who’ve gone on to work in many settings, including colleges, high schools, clinic outreach, medical product sales and other allied health professions like physical therapy.
“She has such high standards and such pride in her work that it carries over to anyone around her and makes them better professionals,” says Kendall Selsky, assistant professor of health and physical education. “We are better for being led by Heidi, and would not have the program we have today without her.”
Annual Report 2008