By Seth Miller, For The Dominion Post
CARROLLTON, Tx. — As the popular John Denver song yearns for country roads to take us home, it’s important to remember that many from the Mountain State have journeyed those long and winding roads to chase their dreams and accomplish great things in their career.
One particular West Virginia native and WVU alum, Marisa Brunett, traveled near and far in pursuit of her love for sports and athletic training, but the new Vice President of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association owes much of her success to her home state and believes it has made her who she is today.
“When they announced my name in the board room, I was very proud and happy, being from a small town in West Virginia,” she said. “Again, I attribute so much of my success to WVU because we have so many great leaders come from WVU that have been involved with the NATA.”
Brunett, who now lives in Winter Springs, Fla., is the director of public relations and outpatient and community services for Nirvana Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Services and Nirvana Health Services, Inc. and was recently appointed to her new role by the NATA board of directors.
“NATA is a professional membership association for certified athletic trainers across the country and internationally,” she said. “It was founded in 1950 and we’ve grown to 45,000 members. Our mission is really to support the athletic training profession, to foster the continued growth in education and to develop and support athletic trainers as unique healthcare providers.”
A big part of NATA is continuing education, according to Brunett, which helps professional athletic trainers to stay on the cutting edge in their field. Also, NATA has created a public awareness campaign, At Your Own Risk, which is designed to educate and provide resources to the public and encourage safety in work, life and sport.
Brunett’s love for sports was one thing that propelled her into the athletic training field and her mentors at WVU were the ones that help guide her to where she is today.
“I was frequently injured high school basketball player in Clarksburg,” the Notre Dame High alum said. “Joe Manchin, who many may remember as a physical therapist in Clarksburg, is one who really pushed me into the profession. I loved athletics so much and I used to talk with him a lot about it.”
Brunett earned a basketball scholarship to Garrett College in Maryland and became more interested in athletic training. Manchin again encouraged her to apply to the West Virginia athletic training program, which was one of the top ten in the country and developed by John Spiker, who was one of the most influential members of the WVU athletic department.
“John (Spiker), Cynthia “Sam” Booth and Randy Meador were such a big part my career,” she said. “They breed great athletic trainers, some of the best in the country. They’ve done so much for the WVU program and for me personally. They are well respected in the athletic training profession and I’m just so proud to be a West Virginia grad.”
Brunett was inducted into the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame as well as the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida Hall of Fame. She received NATA’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award and Athletic Trainer Service Award. She also earned her graduate degree from Florida State University.
In her professional career, Brunett has cleared quite a path for herself and reached great heights, however, more important than any career achievements, Brunett still stays close to her Clarksburg roots, splitting time helping her mother and brother run their family business, Tomaro’s Bakery.
“We are the oldest Italian bakery in the state,” she said. “It started in 1914 and it was one of the original creators of the pepperoni roll.” The small bakery on North 4th Street in Clarksburg started with her great grandfather, Carmen Antonio Tomaro, and has lasted four generations.