Dillon and Payne to Receive NATA Above and Beyond Award
Graduate assistant athletic trainer Ryan Payne

June 24, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia associate director of athletic training Michael Dillon and graduate assistant athletic trainer Ryan Payne have been selected by the National Athletic Training Association (NATA) to receive the 2013 Above and Beyond Award.

The duo will be recognized during ceremonies held at the 64th NATA Convention June 24-27 in Las Vegas.

The Above and Beyond Award recognizes one athletic trainer in the collegiate setting for exceptional performance of athletic training or non-athletic training activities occurring in the past year. Previous recipients have administered life-saving measures, developed major programs or initiatives at their institution or led service projects that had lasting impact on the community.

This is a very prestigious national award," said UGA director of Sports Medicine Ron Courson. "Mike and Ryan have both done a tremendous job going above and beyond their normal job responsibilities in their work with UGA student-athletes Chance Veazey and Johnathan (J.T.) Taylor, and they are truly deserving of this award."

Dillon has worked as an athletic trainer at UGA since 1987, and he was promoted to associate athletic trainer in March of 1997. His responsibilities include care, prevention and treatment for the UGA baseball team, along with serving as clinical coordinator for the athletic training department.

Dillon has played an integral role in the rehabilitation of Veazey and Taylor, as both sustained serious injuries that ended their baseball playing careers at Georgia.

Veazey suffered a scooter accident on campus during the fall of his freshman season in 2010 that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. Taylor suffered a neck injury in an outfield collision with a teammate during the 2011 season that also has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

"It has been my great privilege to have the opportunity to work with both Chance and J.T. in their rehabilitation," said Dillon. "They are both exceptional young men, and I have learned so much assisting both of them as they go through their rehabilitation and return to normal college life. They have been a tremendous inspiration not only to myself, but to hundreds of others, as well."

A native of Daytona Beach, Fla., Payne has worked primarily with Taylor since coming to Georgia following his graduation from Florida Southern College. In addition to assisting Dillon with Taylor's rehabilitation process, Payne also lives with Taylor on campus to provide further assistance as needed on a daily basis.

"Having the opportunity to work with J.T. has provided a rewarding and life-changing experience that I am truly grateful for," said Payne. "My time here at Georgia has far exceeded my greatest expectations."



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