Dr. R. Richard Ray of the Hope College faculty is being recognized with a national award later this month for his outstanding career contributions to the athletic training profession.

He will receive a "Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award" from the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) on Wednesday, June 15. The presentation will be made during the organization's national 56th Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia, running Sunday-Thursday, June 12-16, in Indianapolis, Ind.

The award will be a second major recognition for Ray this year. On Saturday, April 2, he was inducted into the Honors Academy of the Health, Physical Education & Recreation (HPER) Department of Western Michigan University.

The NATA "Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer" award recognizes outstanding dedication and service to the athletic training profession. Candidates for the award must have held the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) credential, conferred by the NATA Board of Certification, for at least 20 years; been recognized for service to the profession of athletic training at the local, state, national and/or international level; attained recognition for distinguished service as a certified athletic trainer; and been recognized for unique contributions to the profession of athletic training not recognized elsewhere.

Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. NATA represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research.

The HPER Department Academy Program at Western Michigan University recognizes the outstanding achievements of the bachelor's and master's graduates of the department, and considers professional accomplishments, professional recognition, and professional and community service. Ray completed his master's through the program in 1980. He also holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

Ray has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1982, and has been involved in the profession of athletic training for a quarter century.

He is a professor of kinesiology, athletic trainer and chairperson of the department at Hope. He coordinates the college's athletic training program, and he led the college's successful effort to seek re-accreditation in 2004 by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. He became department chair in the fall of 2003.

Under Ray's leadership, the college's athletic training program grew into a full major that requires its graduates to complete 48 credit hours in a variety of disciplines and at least 1,200 hours of clinical work under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer. Hope was one of the first Michigan colleges to have its athletic training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

In March of 2004, he received an "Outstanding Educator Award" from the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers' Association, from which he had also received a "Distinguished Service Award" in March of 2002. In June of 2001, he received the "Sayers 'Bud' Miller Distinguished Educator Award" from NATA, the association's highest honor for an athletic training educator. In May of 1999, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Michigan Athletic Trainers' Society, which had presented him with its "Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award" in 1995. In January of 2000, he received Hope's "Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching."

Ray has a wide range of research interests, and has received several grants to support his work. He is the editor or author of the books "Management Strategies in Athletic Training" (2000, 1994), "Counseling in Sports Medicine" (1999) and "Case Studies in Athletic Training Administration" (1995), all published by Human Kinetics. He has written numerous articles in scientific publications, and has presented papers at professional conferences including the annual clinical symposia in 2000 of both the Japan Athletic Trainers Organization in Tokyo and the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association in Niagara Falls.

He is former editor of "Athletic Therapy Today" and served as associate editor of the "Journal of Athletic Training."

Ray was co-chair of the National Athletic Trainers' Association Education Task Force. He was president of GLATA from 1990 to 1992, and is also a member and former president of the Michigan Athletic Trainers' Society.

Prior to conducting his graduate work at Western Michigan University, he received a B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1979.