Candidates for President
Kira Berch,MS, ATC, LAT, OTC
Kira Berch has been a Mississippi resident since 2004, where she began work as a certified athletic trainer for Belhaven University. Mrs. Berch is originally from Louisiana, where she first gained a passion for athletic training in the 10th grade. She was under the wings of a variety of secondary athletic trainers and in 2004 she obtained a degree in athletic training from Southeastern Louisiana University. While in Mississippi her education didn’t end, she obtained a master’s degree in health promotion form Mississippi State University.
In 2008, Mrs. Berch moved from the university setting to serve the secondary schools, where she has served daily care to both private and public schools. While in these settings she was noticed teaching young minds, on the sidelines and in workshops, about the profession and basic care skills. Therefore, she was asked in 2011 to enter the classroom at Florence High School, where she serves as a health science educator. In 2013, she assisted the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit in writing a high school Sports Medicine Curriculum that was adopted by the Mississippi State Department of Education allowing high school students to explore healthcare careers and concepts that are linked to the platform of sports medicine. Outside of her schools needs she has also gained professional experiences assisting at the Dixie National Rodeo, recreational events, and MHSAA/MAIS state competitions.
In strides to improve the MATA, Mrs. Berch has had the honor to serve 2 terms on the executive committee as Secretary. Here she has vowed to improve the image of the MATA. It’s important to her that each member sees the efforts that the organization puts forth to its membership. These efforts are made by providing improved communication among all Athletic trainers by social media and email and in developing a secondary school’s athletic trainer directory to link ATs together when joining their team in travel can be a challenge. A final, and very passionate goal of hers, is to build up a brotherhood among the state’s athletic trainers where its members can have support. Through this leadership, she has been elected to serve the NATA as a district representative for the State Association Advisory Committee.
Mrs. Berch’s efforts have been recognized in a variety of ways. She has received the 2016 Employee of the year award for Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic, 2016 MATA Athletic Trainer of the year, 2019 Mississippi STAR Teacher Award, 2019 SEATA High School athletic trainer of the year, and 2019 NATA Leadership Award. To this day, she has used many platforms to advocate athletic training opportunities through speaking engagements and authoring articles. However, the best recognition is by her family's support, husband Chris daughter Caleigh and son Delton, who allows her to serve one of her greatest passions, athletic training.
As a Secondary School Athletic Trainer, I am seeking the position of MATA president. I feel that I am a good candidate for this position. I work the same hours, in the same conditions as most of the membership. The care that is given to my athletes, parents, school and my community is shared across this state by other Athletic Trainers. These experiences make me one of you and I want to represent as one of you.
Besides being a full time Athletic Trainer, I have had the pleasure of serving in many capacities, on the state and national levels. I am currently serving my second term as MATA secretary, a job that you allowed me to gain the understand of the inner workings of our state association. Recently, I was elected to serve on the NATA State Association Advisory Committee, where I will stand as a voice for Mississippi Athletic Trainers on the national level. I also serve as a member of the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory board and several other educational groups; through these groups I advocate for the hiring of Athletic Trainers and educate people about our professional value and worth.
In my experience, I’ve seen how our profession is changing positively in the educational level, in our skill set progressions and a variety of emerging opportunities. Therefore, the MATA and its leadership must actively advocate for more employment opportunities and professional growths to Mississippi employers and state representatives.
If elected as President, together we would face change head on and lead the way for all Athletic Trainers. I have a vested interest in our profession growing and thriving because again, I am an Athletic Trainer who stand with you. When you vote, please consider Kira Berch for MATA President
Candidate Statement :
Marc Osbourne , LAT, ATC
Marc has been Director of Athletic Training Outreach for Upstream Rehabilitation
(ELITE PT’s parent company) since October of 2019. He oversees a staff of over 40
ATs in both the Mississippi and Alabama market. Prior to that, he was Regional Athletic Training Coordinator for ELITE Physical Therapy in Mississippi for two years. Beforejoining ELITE, Marc was Director of Sports Medicine at Medicomp Physical Therapy for 14 years. While at Medicomp,
Marc started and managed an Athletic Training Outreach Program that employed over 20 Athletic Trainers in 4 states. Before joining Medicomp, Marc was a staff Athletic Trainer for Baptist Health Systems for two years as well as Assistant Athletic Trainer/Rehabilitation Coordinator for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in Atlanta, GA. Marc received his Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Medicine/Athletic Training from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2000. Marc has been Vice-President of the Mississippi Athletic Trainers’ Association for six years. Prior to that, he was Interim Vice-President for almost two years. Marc and his wife Leanne have two children, Mason 13, and Marlee 8. They reside in Clinton, MS.
Candidate Statement :
I am humbled and honored to be nominated for the office of President of the
Mississippi Athletic Trainers’ Association. During my two terms as Vice-President, I have focused primarily on Governmental Affairs and developing and increasing the revenue streams of the Association. With the help of many on the Executive Committee and our membership, we have been able to increase our income approximately 300%. Through sponsorships and exhibitors we have been able to attain profitability of our Annual Meeting with little to no impact to the registration costs and membership dues. As President, my goal would be to continue this work as well as lead our association through the changes and hurdles that are certainly coming to our profession. The educational, regulatory, and legislative challenges that we will face over the next four years will require purpose driven leadership and teamwork to overcome and advance Athletic Training in our state. I ask for your help and support to accomplish these tasks. Thank you.
Allen Thompson, MS, ATC, LAT, PES, CES, CSIWCP, CIEE, CAE
Allen Thompson, MS, ATC, LAT, PES, CES, CSIWCP, CIEE, CAE serves as the Fee for Service liaison for the state of Mississippi. He has served this role for the past 9 years for Drayer Physical Therapy including Director of Industrial Rehab. He is responsible for ergonomic evaluations, functional capacity evaluations, impairment ratings, causation analysis, and functional progress of all workman comp patients within the Mississippi network. Mr. Thompson covers Amory High School with his full time clinical position with Elite Physical Therapy. He worked for the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals organizations for nine (9) years serving as off-season rehab coordinator and minor league strength assistant. Mr. Thompson served as Assistant Athletic Trainer for Mississippi State University baseball and football programs for four (4) years. Mr. Thompson developed a functional movement screening process while serving the St. Louis Cardinals and Mississippi State University that has continued to this day. He is married to Mandy Thompson and has two children: Ally Thompson (16) and Mckenzie Thompson (12).
Candidate Statement :
I want to serve the ATs within this great state. I believe opportunities are achieved when one is determined enough to accomplish it. Today, we stand at the beginning of a great opportunity. The world has become a vast potential, and what will Mississippi’s legacy become in the field of athletic training. Well, I would strive to promote the emerging settings to our members and look for more opportunities with rural high schools in the coverage we can provide. I work in a rural area, and many schools do not offer ATs. All athletes deserve an AT at their school, and we should do more to achieve that goal. We need to coordinate greater outreach or coordinate more significant communications between all providers to ensure that all athletes are a priority. I believe in introducing more significant opportunities with emergency care programs to assist ATs in meeting the standards of NATA. I plan to continue our efforts with Workmans’ compensation fee schedule to improve our marketability and out billing potential. However, many times a president will tell us what he will do but never ask. I want to change that. I want you to help dictate the course of our state and our profession. I run for president not for the title, but for the hope of growing Our profession
Candidates for Secretary
Dorothy Garrity, ATC, LAT
I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1979 with a B.S. as the 1st female at USM to go through the athletic training program. I also received my M.S. in 1981 from USM. I have been a member of the NATA since 1976 and have been a Certified Athletic Trainer for over 40 years. Furthermore, I am a member of MATA and have been licensed in the State of Mississippi since 1991. In the first years of licensure in Mississippi, I was responsible for approving and verifying CEUs for the licensees that were not NATA certified or were grandfathered in for licensure. During these years, I served on the NATA Public Relations Committee, SEATA History and Archives Committee and the MATA Scholarship Committee. For the last 16 years, I have worked for Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center as a contract athletic trainer for area high schools. As of August 2019, I am teaching Algebra 2 and Geometry at Cathedral High School in Natchez while also fulfilling my athletic training duties. Previously, I had been the office manager and bookkeeper for Bluff City Veterinary Hospital for over 30 years. My husband, Dr. Byron Garrity and I have been married for 30 years and have 5 children and 1 grandchild. We reside in Natchez, MS.
Candidate Statement :
My goal as secretary of MATA is to continue to provide the membership with information about the MATA meetings and elections. I would also like to increase the participation in all elections. I also pledge to assist the President in any and all duties that are necessary to continue to help the MATA thrive.
Jonathan Pierce, ATC, LAT
Hey everyone, my name is Jonathan Pierce. I currently reside in Magee, MS where I am an athletic trainer at Apex Physical Therapy. I have been working at Apex for a year and a half, providing athletic training services to Simpson Academy and Magee High School. I received my athletic training degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. After graduation, I completed a short internship at Mississippi State University before returning to USM to pursue a master’s degree in sports management. While competing my post graduate work, I had the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant athletic trainer, providing coverage for Southern Miss softball. In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors, specifically fishing. In addition to athletic training, I am heavily involved helping my father and brother with a cattle farm. Most down time and summer breaks are spent on the farm.
Candidate Statement :
I am thankful for the nomination and would appreciate your vote for secretary. There will be two important focus points for me if elected. The first will be ensuring all members have a voice in their state organization and stay involved. Furthermore, working with other executive members to involve the “new generation” of Mississippi athletic trainers in MATA. The second focus point will involve keeping all members informed of what is happening within the organization and remaining openminded and honest. I believe it is important that each person brings their own traits but work together to ensure growth and stability of MATA. These are all areas I believe to be essential for the present and future success of our association.
Lauren Self, ATC, LAT
Lauren Self is a resident of Brookhaven, Mississippi and is in fourth year as the head athletic trainer at Copiah Lincoln Community College with King’s Daughters Medical Center. Self graduated from the University of West Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training (2009) and was NATA-BOC certified in the same year. Self spent two years working and gaining experience at Alabama A&M University as a graduate assistant athletic trainer working with softball, soccer, and basketball from 2009-2011. Following her time at Alabama A&M University, Self, moved to a head athletic trainer role at Alcorn State University, covering all 17 varsity sports. After Alcorn State, Self worked as an outreach Athletic trainer for King’s Daughters Medical Center before taking her current role at Co-Lin. Entering her eleventh year as an athletic trainer, Self has been involved in her professional organization since she served at the Alabama represented to the Student SEAT Council during her years as an undergraduate student. She has continued to be involved volunteering when needed, attending and participating in capitol hill day both at the state and national level. She has served as the MarCom Chair for Mississippi Athletic Trainers Association for the past three years.
Candidate Statement :
I am very honored and grateful to be nominated to run for the position of Secretary to represent MATA. The MATA is a very important organization to me, and I believe the work that the MATA does for out state and profession is invaluable. I have learned over the last few years while serving as the MarCom Chair just how much work the MATA does on behalf of all athletic trainers in our state from protecting our license, lobbying for our practice as health care professionals to be included in laws that are passed that may affect our ability to practice, and even being able to provide continuing education opportunities each year. As MATA Secretary, I will work to continue to represent the MATA membership, and help improve and promote our profession of athletic training as we continue to grow and move forward.
Christopher Smith, MS, ATC, LAT
Christopher Smith enters his 15th season as a licensed and certified Athletic Trainer. Smith, employed by OrthoSouth, has served as the Head Athletic Trainer for Hernando Middle & High Schools for the past four seasons. Prior to his move to Hernando, he served as the Head Athletic Trainer for Olive Branch Middle & High Schools for two years and for Hutchison School for nine years. While at Hernando, Smith has become the first full time AT the school has had. He has worked to update emergency action plans, create a proper athletic training room, and work with teams to incorporate better safety measures. For his efforts, Hernando High School was awarded the 1st Team Safe Sports School designation by the National Athletic Trainers Association. Smith graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2003 with a B.S. degree in Exercise Science. He then went on to receive his Master’s degree in Education in 2005 from Delta State University. While in school, he also served as a intern for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. He is an active member of the NATA and holds licensure in both Mississippi and Tennessee. He also obtained both Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and Champion Performance Specialist (C-PS) credentials. A native Memphian, Smith now resides in Lewisburg, MS with his wife Lora and their two children, Caroline and Knox.
It would be an honor and privilege to serve the MATA membership in an officer role as secretary. My vision of the position would be to assist the other elected officers in continuing to build upon the work of previous officers. I would seek to contribute to the promotion and advancement of the profession within and on behalf of the State of Mississippi.