University of South Florida

MCOM athletic training master’s program director to receive national honor


For the past 30 years, Steven Zinder, PhD, ATC, director of athletic training master’s program at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, focused his passion for science and sports into researching the biomechanics of the ankle. Dr. Zinder will be recognized as the 2017 Most Distinguished Athletic Director Trainer by the National Athletics Trainers Association in Houston this summer.

“I’m over-the-moon excited about receiving this award, and it’s humbling at the same time,” Dr. Zinder said.  “This isn’t a pat-on-your-back type of business.  Twenty-eight years later I’m getting a pat on the back, and it feels pretty good.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Zinder researched hundreds of ankle injuries to understand how they occurred and what could be done for prevention. In 2005, Dr. Zinder’s work led to a co-authored international patent on a device that assesses the stability of ankles in sitting and standing positions.  Ankle injuries and stability are often evaluated while a patient is sitting, but the true way to assess the stability is when the patient is putting their full body weight on the ankle.

Before joining USF nearly five years ago, Dr. Zinder was a member of the athletic training education staff at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  He has also worked with the Denver Broncos and taught at Bucknell University; the University of Virginia, where he earned his PhD; and California State University in Fullerton.

“What drew me to USF was the fact that the athletic training program was housed under the college of medicine,” Dr. Zinder said. “I had the job every athletic researcher wanted in North Carolina.  Chapel Hill was the place to be and it took a special job to pull me away from there — USF was it.”

Just two months after he arrived at USF, Dr. Zinder was promoted to direct MCOM’s Department of Athletic Training master’s program. It’s a position where he can mentor and lead the research of his faculty.

“Mentoring young faculty members with their research interests is much more enjoyable than pursuing my own,” he said.

Now in its third year, the USF athletic training master’s program is the standard for other colleges to emulate, Dr. Zinder said.  He takes extreme pride as one of only two such programs nationwide housed under the university’s medical school.  This gives athletic training students the ability to work in interprofessional environments with students and faculty in other health colleges.

“Our program is shining very bright in the national spotlight,” Dr. Zinder said.  “Other programs have looked at us to see how athletic training programs need to run.  I’m always happy to help my contemporaries at other colleges because as an industry, we need to be better.”

Story and Photo by Fredrick J. Coleman

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