SEATA ELECTION CANDIDATES

Candidates for District IX Director

Paul Higgs, LAT, ATC, CSCS

Paul Higgs is the Director of the Athletic Training Clinic, an outpatient rehabilitation clinic, as part of the Center for Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation at Valdosta State University after serving for 20 years as Head Athletic Trainer at NCAA Division II Georgia College where he was responsible for coordinating the medical care of all student-athletes.

The Albany, Georgia native earned his bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine from Valdosta State in 1989 and his master’s degree in Health and Physical Education from Georgia Southwestern State University in 1996.  He was certified as an Athletic Trainer in 1989 and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in 2007.  He has served as President of the Georgia Athletic Trainers Association twice.

Higgs has served in the US Olympic Committee's Volunteer Medical Program including appointments to the medical staffs of the 1995 Olympic Festival, the 1998 Goodwill Games, and the 1999 Pan American Games.

Higgs has taught for a combined 11 years in the accredited athletic training programs at Georgia College and Valdosta State and now teaches in VSU’s Health Sciences major following the retirement of their AT major.  In 2008 co-authored a textbook, Perspectives in Athletic Training.

Paul has served on the SEATA Governmental Affairs Committee as the Georgia Representative since 2016. He was an inaugural member of the NATA Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine in 2017.  Before serving on the ICSM, Paul was a member of the NATA’s College/University Value Committee from 2010-2015 and a member of the NATA Website Advisory Committee from 2003-2005.

Paul’s wife of over 30 years is Karen Higgs.  They live in Hahira, Georgia and have two children, Mary Helen and Matthew.

 

Paul feels that SEATA should Serve Every Athletic Training Association and the Executive Director’s role is to serve as an ambassador to the NATA Board of Directors representing the SEATA Executive Board, its member states, and their respective memberships.  With experience in a variety of settings—from high school outreach to college athletics, outpatient clinics, industry, academia, and elite athletics—he has the perspective and shared experiences to represent and connect with the membership of District IX in a unique and effective way.  He would be honored to serve on the SEATA Executive Board as the voice of the Association to NATA as well as the voice of NATA to the constituents in SEATA. 

Donna Wesley, MS, LAT, ATC

Donna Wesley, MS, ATC, LAT, is a graduate of The University of Alabama and received a Master’s Degree from The University of Mississippi. Ms. Wesley has over 20 years of experience as an outreach athletic trainer at the secondary school level, and is licensed in both Mississippi and Alabama. During her 22 years with North Mississippi Medical Center, she worked with local high schools and Itawamba Community College. Presently, she is employed by ATI Physical Therapy and is working with Vincent Middle High School in Shelby County, Alabama.


Donna is seeking to continue her service to SEATA and the profession by representing our members as the next District Director. For the past 5 years, she has been serving as SEATA Secretary. During her time as secretary, she has resumed the production of the quarterly SEATA Newsletter, as well as overseen the update of the SEATA website. Her professional service began as Secretary for the Mississippi Athletic Trainers’ Association (MATA) in 2000. Following her term as secretary, she was elected to serve as president and represented Mississippi on the SEATA Board from 2004-2012. During her time as president Mississippi underwent significant changes to the state’s athletic trainer practice act. While on the Board, she served on the SEATA Elections Committee and SEATA Finance Committee. She has previously served as the Chair of the NATA’s State Association Advisory Committee (SAAC) that oversees the State Leadership Forum at the NATA Annual Meeting.


In 2018, Ms. Wesley was inducted into the SEATA Hall of Fame and was honored to be selected as the first female inductee into the Mississippi Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2017. Her other awards and honors include the 2014 SEATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award as well as the Chuck Kimmel Award of Merit. She is the 2010 winner of the SEATA District Award and in 2011 was awarded the NATA’s Athletic Trainer Service Award. In 2008, The University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences presented her with the Jack Davis Professional Achievement Award in Athletic Training.


In her spare time, Donna enjoys traveling, fishing, cooking and spending time with family and friends.

Candidates for District IX President

Cary Berthelot, MA, LAT, ATC

Cary Berthelot is a certified athletic trainer from Reserve, Louisiana. She has been an athletic trainer for twenty-three years and has been an active member of the NATA, SEATA and LATA throughout her
professional career.


She received both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Kinesiology from Southeastern Louisiana University. She also received an Associate of Arts Degree from Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri, where she was an Academic All-American in softball. She currently serves as Athletic Trainer/Care Manager for the Professional Athlete Care Team Clinic at Tulane University. She was previously a Program Director and instructor in the accredited Athletic Training Program at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. Prior to her time at Nicholls, she served as Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer at Southeastern Louisiana University. While at Southeastern, she
taught in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies and the athletic training curriculum. During her time in education, she helped to establish Athletic Training Day for high school students at both
universities. She was recognized with the Excellence in Teaching and Service Awards during her time at Southeastern.


Cary is the immediate Past President of the Louisiana Athletic Trainers’ Association and has served two terms on the Executive Board of the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association. During her time as president, she worked to pass a comprehensive sports injury management law in Louisiana’s legislature. She has been honored with the NATA Athletic Training Service Award, the SEATA Outstanding Collegiate Athletic Trainer and the LATA Charlie Martin Service Award. She served a term as Chair of the One-Day
Workshop Committee for the NATA, coordinating hands-on continuing education workshops across the country. In addition to her time on the SEATA Board of Directors, she has served SEATA extensively in other committees throughout her career; having been Louisiana Representative to the NATA Foundation, ATs Care, Women in Athletic Training, and Public Relations Committees. At the state level, in addition to her presidency, she held two terms as Secretary of the LATA, as well as chairing the Public Relations and Organizational Affairs Committees. In addition, she has been a volunteer for multiple NATA National Conventions across the country, served as a BOC Examiner and participated as an instructor for both SEATA and the New Orleans Saints student workshops.


Cary has also been a long-time employee of Varsity Spirit Corporation. In that capacity, she has served as an athletic trainer for numerous local, state, national and international events. She has served as First Aid Lead for the Spirit of America Performance Group for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. During the Louisiana flood of 2016, she coordinated a donation drive for Louisiana’s athletic trainers and, with the assistance a combined effort of countless others, was able to distribute over $25,000 in
donations and supplies.

 

In her free time, Cary enjoys music, sports and participating in theatre both on stage and behind the scenes. She currently resides in New Orleans with her fur babies Rum Tum Tugger and Grizabella.

Scott Byrd, LAT, ATC

Since 2001, Scott Byrd has consistently been active in TATS and SEATA. Working under two former SEATA presidents, Byrd has worked his way up in TATS from the secondary schools' chair and governmental affairs chair to the Vice President. Scott Served two terms as president of TATS. In the fall of 2019, Scott was elected Treasurer of SEATA. TATS enjoyed great success during his terms as president increasing member engagement and meeting attendance.

 

In addition to his ATC duties, Byrd has served on various state and local boards and civic service committees. One that he deeply values is being called to be a Deacon at First Baptist Church of Dandridge. Byrd feels that God should come first and that He has blessed him with the opportunity to utilize the talents bestowed upon him by allowing him to serve others as a certified athletic trainer.

Furthermore, Byrd has worked in a variety of practice settings giving him a more diverse views of our profession. His expertise ranges from spending time as an intern in professional baseball, working in a clinic-based outreach program, working in a hospital-based secondary school setting, working as a Tennessee Career and Technical Education teacher, and becoming a head athletic trainer at the college level.

Scott likes to empower committee chairs emphasizing on communication to enable them to engage more members in hopes of increasing engagement. Having had the opportunity to serve SEATA under both Jim Mackie and Gerard White, he feels like he will be well prepared to handle the tasks of the office of SEATA President.

Scott has been honored as Joe Worden Clinic/Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year 2001, SEATA Clinic Corporate Award 2005, and SEATA High School Athletic Trainer of the year award 2007, Gatorade Secondary School Service Award 2009, and the TATS Corporate Award winner in 2005 and 2009. Magnus Health Achievement in School Health Excellence finalist top 10 2014, National Athletic Trainers Association Service Award 2018. Scott was honored to be included in the TATS Hall of Fame in 2018. Under Scott’s direction, Sevier County schools became the first Tennessee school system to have all county secondary schools be awarded “Safe Sports Schools 1st Team Recognition.” Cocke County schools become the 2nd system to be recognized. He recognizes the community importance of this award program and has currently led a total of 10 Schools in Tennessee to achieve 1st team Safe Sports Awards from the NATA.

In addition, Scott has also served as the medical coordinator of the Toyota/TACA East/West All-Star Football events since 2007; medical coordinator for National Guard Border Bowl since 2008; medical committee for the AAU Junior Olympics 2002; baseball ATC for AAU Jr Olympics in 1997; and is a TSSAA A.F. Bridges Award winner 2006-2007. He has been a member of the TSSAA Wrestling Weight Management Executive Committee since its inception in 2003. He is currently serving on the TSSAA sports medicine advisory committee.

Scott is married to Carla Hasty Byrd and has three sons, Colton, Jackson, and Hayden.

Candidate for District IX Treasurer

Gerard White, MEd, LAT, ATC

Gerard White, MEd, LAT, ATC is an active member to the athletic training profession with a long history of service in both professional organizations and athletic training education.  Gerard has been an active member of the NATA since 1983 (37 years), with 36 of those years with SEATA practicing in Mississippi and Louisiana.

 

His passion for athletic training was instilled in him during his high school years where he volunteered as a student-aid for four years.  His high school mentor, the late Charlie Reed, ensured Gerard’s journey by introducing him to the late Charlie Martin, LAT, ATC (NATA, SEATA, and LATA Hall of Famer), the head athletic trainer at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).  During his undergraduate years at ULM (1982-1987), Gerard first experienced SEATA at a conference hosted by the Atlanta Falcons in Swanee, GA.  He continued his graduate studies serving as a graduate assistant athletic trainer for ULM and then as an assistant athletic trainer.

 

In 1989, Gerard was employed as the head athletic trainer for Waxahachie (TX) High School.  One year later, he moved back into SEATA serving as the head athletic trainer at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS.  Gerard was hired by Nicholls State University in 1992 as the head athletic trainer.  During his 28 years tenure at Nicholls, he initiated the athletic training education program serving as the Program Director and then the Clinical Education Coordinator.  He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

 

Gerard’s professional service in both state and district leadership roles began with his election as LATA Treasurer (1999-2007), with three of those years serving as the Louisiana Representative on the SEATA Executive Board (2004-2007).  He was appointed as the SEATA Parliamentarian (2008-2010) and elected as President of LATA (2010-2016).  In the summer of 2016, he began his first term as SEATA President and is currently completing his final term ending in June 2021.  Additionally, he continues to serve the Commission on Athletic Training Education (CAATE, 2008-present) as a Site-Visitor.

 

Gerard and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Thibodaux, LA where they are the proud parents of their daughter, Megan, age 16, who attends ED White Catholic High School.  Gerard is a 3rd Degree Knights of Columbus member of the St. Genevieve of Paris Council #13397.

SOUTHEAST ATHLETIC TRAINERS' ASSOCIATION

The Southeast Athletic Trainers' Association (SEATA) is District IX of the National Athletic Trainers' Association.  It is a not-for-profit organization dealing with the concerns of its members and the profession of athletic training as a whole.  This association was first started back in 1950.  Initially comprised of the members of the Southeastern Conference schools, this district is represented by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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