WCU’s Manners receives national award

Jill Manners, director and associate professor of Western Carolina University’s athletic training program, has been named this year’s recipient of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Gail Weldon Award of Excellence.

Manners will be presented the award at the NATA’s annual conference in Las Vegas in June.

The Weldon award recognizes one athletic trainer each year who has shown “an exceptional commitment to mentoring, professional development and life balancing for women athletic trainers or significant contributions to improve the health care of females provided by athletic trainers.” The award is named in honor of Gail Weldon, a pioneer in the advancement of women in athletic training and the first female athletic trainer hired by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“I am extremely honored to be in the same category as the many women that I have looked up to throughout my career,” Manners said. “I hope that my efforts will inspire my students and other athletic trainers to give back to the community and the profession. I also hope that I am the professional role model to my students that I have been lucky enough to have throughout my career.”

James Scifers, director of WCU’s School of Health Sciences and professor of athletic training, said Manners leads by example to help her students become “engaged professionals.”

“She possesses outstanding interpersonal skills, demonstrates empathy toward her patients and students, and focuses on evidence-based outcomes,” Scifers wrote in an award nomination. “As an educator, Professor Manners is steadfast in her commitment to holding students to the highest level of professionalism and accountability. Her commitment to excellence has resulted in a steady stream of highly qualified young professionals entering the athletic training profession.”

Scifers said Manners, an extremely active member of the NATA at the national, regional and state levels, “shines as a beacon for aspiring young female members” of those organizations.

Manners began teaching at WCU in 2004 and was named director of the athletic training program in 2010. She has twice been chosen as a nominee for the University of North Carolina system’s primary teaching honor, the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, and she has been a four-time finalist for the university’s highest teaching honor, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She was recipient of the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Educator of the Year Award in 2009.

In addition to her duties on campus, Manners has provided regular rehabilitation services for clients at the Jackson County Good Samaritan Clinic, a free health service provided to non-insured and low-income individuals, since 2008.

Jill Manners (left) instructs junior athletic training students in how to perform a shoulder evaluation.

Jill Manners (left) instructs junior athletic training students in how to perform a shoulder evaluation.