Sara Bjerke inducted into North Dakota Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame
The North Dakota Athletic Trainers Association (NDATA) has named Sara Bjerke, assistant professor of athletic training in the Department of Sports Medicine at UND’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), the NDATA Hall of Fame inductee for 2022.
“I am humbled and honored to be inducted into the North Dakota Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame,” said Bjerke, a UND alumna. “I am thankful to the Association for giving me the opportunity to serve the profession and represent North Dakota at all levels. My ‘why’ for serving is and always has been giving back to the athletic training profession that has given me so much. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Bjerke, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the NDATA Clinical Symposium and State Meeting on Saturday, April 9, 2022, has been an athletic trainer (AT) for over 25 years, working with a variety of populations, including high school and college athletes. She made the jump back to university life in 2014 and has been at the University of North Dakota ever since.
“I cannot think of any other athletic trainer who has been more involved in the profession of athletic training at the state, district, or national levels,” added Steve Westereng, chair of the SMHS Department of Sports Medicine. “Sara’s continuous participation on committees and in leadership roles have had a huge impact on the profession of athletic training in the state of North Dakota and beyond.”
Since its incorporation, the NDATA has inducted fewer than ten Hall of Fame athletic trainers. Bjerke is the third AT from UND to receive the recognition and is the first female inducted into the Hall of Fame.
NDATA Hall of Fame Award recipients are nominated by their peer athletic trainers in the state, Westereng added. Recipients are nominated because they have typically recorded significant accomplishments outside of their “day-to-day job” to advance the profession of athletic training in a profound way.
In Bjerke’s case, the veteran athletic trainer won the Ethically Diverse and Female Recognition Award from the Mid America Athletic Trainers Association in 2018 and the Athletic Training Service Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) in 2016. A member of the NDATA, Bjerke is also on the NATA Political Action Committee Board of Directors and serves on the North Dakota Board of Athletic Trainers.
In a statement, the NDATA noted that it was excited to “get to recognize a wonderful AT for her amazing accomplishments and dedication to the profession of AT in our state. Congratulations Sara Bjerke on your induction in the NDATA Hall of Fame!”
The SMHS program in athletic training is one of the oldest in the region and was the first program in the nation to be housed within a college of medicine and health sciences alongside physicians, physical and occupational therapists, physician assistants, and medical laboratory scientists. This type of arrangement is today considered best practice for athletic training programs.