Athletic trainers Vanessa Birky, of Kankakee Valley High School, and Daniel Merrill, of Crown Point High School, have a chance to become the athletic trainer selected as the Regional Nominee for The 2018 – 2019 Newell National Athletic Trainer of the Year Award. The athletic trainer selected as the Regional Nominee will advance on to join other Regional Nominees from across the nation to be considered for the National Award. The Regional Nominee will be announced in the spring.

In partnership with local leading orthopedic practices, such as Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute in Chesterton, Crown Point, Knox, LaPorte, Michigan City, Portage, Schererville and Valparaiso, The 2018 – 2019 Newell National Athletic Trainer of the Year Award recognizes athletic trainers for the service and leadership they provide to local athletic communities. Nominations for the National Award are based on examples of service, leadership and shared experiences from community members, and nominees are determined regionally. 

Birky serves as an athletic trainer for Kankakee Valley High School in Wheatfield. She received her Bachelor of Science in athletic training from Indiana State University in Terre Haute. She later went on to earn her Master of Science degree in athletic training from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. While completing her master’s degree, she worked at a high school in Illinois for two years. For the last four years, Birky has worked to keep athletes healthy and safe as a Kankakee Valley High School athletic trainer.

Formerly an athletic trainer for Valparaiso High School and Willowcreek Middle School, Merrill currently serves as the athletic trainer for Crown Point High School through Franciscan Alliance. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in health and safety with an emphasis in athletic training from Indiana University in Bloomington, he went on to earn his Master of Science in education at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. Merrill has served the local community as an athletic trainer and teacher for over 30 years, caring for injured athletes and educating future athletic trainers through his work.

“We feel very fortunate to work with such incredible medical professionals,” says Dr. Anthony Levenda, fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeon at Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute. “And we feel honored to acknowledge their efforts by partnering with The Newell Award to recognize the region’s—and potentially, the nation’s—top athletic trainers for the service and leadership they display while treating our community’s athletes.”

To learn more about The Newell Award, visit TheNewellAward.com/LBJI.