June 21, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is proud to announce the recipients of the organization’s 2024 Peer Awards. These distinctive awards honor professionals around the world for outstanding achievement in their field. Each individual was nominated by the NSCA community and will be formally recognized at the 2024 NSCA National Conference in Baltimore, MD, this July 10-13.

The Personal Trainer of the Year Award recognizes an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®) or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) for exemplary service to the advancement of the personal training profession. Earning recognition in 2024 is Tara De Leon, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT.

Tara De Leon is a personal trainer, Professor of Health, Fitness, and Exercise Studies, podcaster, speaker, author, and former Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach. Tara has helped hundreds of people feel badass and confident by teaching them how to lift weights and get strong, healthy, and empowered. Tara has a Master’s degree in Human Movement from A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and maintains 14 other advanced certifications pertaining to fitness, wellness, and lifestyle. Tara is a co-host for the podcast, Wellness Rebranded, and the author of the bestselling book Hot Mess to Hot Mom: Transformational Tools for Thriving After Childbirth and Beyond. When Tara is not working, you can find her going for walks, lifting weights, eating sushi or tacos, baking, and spending time on the Chesapeake Bay with her husband, Marcus, their 4-year-old son, Maverick, and their Aussie pup, Chula.

The High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Award is given to a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) who has demonstrated excellence in the field of high school strength and conditioning. Accepting this achievement in 2024 is Justin Loudon, CSCS, RSCC.

Justin Loudon celebrates his tenth year in education, beginning as a health and physical education teacher and transitioning to the role of a strength and conditioning coach. Currently, he serves as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Ezell-Harding Christian School in Antioch, Tennessee. In this capacity, he oversees the training of all sports teams and implements a standards-based curriculum. This curriculum, tailored for students from 7th to 12th grade, fosters physical literacy through a long-term athletic development approach, guiding them to reach their full potential. Originally from Harrisburg, PA, Justin earned his Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from Lock Haven University. He passionately embraces his work and finds fulfillment in witnessing the positive impact he brings to the future of students, athletes, and the profession as a whole. Justin, together with his wife Kimberly and son Asher, resides in Murfreesboro, TN, where they lead an active lifestyle, enjoying outdoor activities as much as possible.

The Educator of the Year Award is presented to an educator who has made noteworthy contributions to education and clinical application of strength training and conditioning. Receiving this honor in 2024 is Guy Hornsby, PhD, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D.

Dr. Guy Hornsby is an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University in Coaching and Performance Science (CPS). His primary responsibilities include overseeing the strength and conditioning and applied sport science aspects within the CPS program (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral). Additionally, he coordinates and oversees a schoolboard-funded graduate assistantship program that provides a Head Strength and Conditioning Coach to three local area high schools. Dr. Hornsby previously served as the NSCA State Director for West Virginia and is currently the NSCA Weightlifting SIG Chair. He has presented at the NSCA National Conference, NSCA Coaches Conference, and the NSCA Advanced Periodization Virtual Clinic. He contributed a chapter, “Exercise Technique,” to the upcoming 5th edition of the NSCA’s Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, authored or co-authored several book chapters, and co-authored Strength and Conditioning in Sports: From Science to Practice. Dr. Hornsby’s research is centered around better understanding the training process for strength-power athletes and various aspects of athlete monitoring.

The Nutritional Research Achievement Award is given annually to recognize a nutritionist for their breakthroughs and contributions in the field of athlete nutritional research. Earning this recognition in 2024 is Katie R. Hirsch, PhD.

Katie R. Hirsch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health. Her research focuses on exercise and nutritional strategies to strengthen and sustain body composition, metabolic health, and exercise performance across the lifespan, with an emphasis on female physiology and women’s health. She contributes to nutrition research in the areas of nutrient timing, protein and essential amino acid supplementation, and ergogenic aids and is passionate about translating science into practical application. Dr. Hirsch completed postdoctoral training in protein metabolism at the Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, earned her PhD in Human Movement Science and Master’s in Exercise Physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science at Truman State University. She is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist with the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

The Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation Specialist Award is given to a sports medicine professional whose work and contributions have significantly impacted the field of sports medicine or rehabilitation for athletes. Achieving this honor in 2024 is Helen Binkley, PhD, ATC, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA.

Dr. Helen Binkley is an Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Athletic Training Program at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Physical Education from the University of Delaware and her PhD in Physical Education from Temple University. Binkley’s areas of expertise include aquatic research, strength training and conditioning, and emergency response in athletic training. She has authored and co-authored numerous abstracts, texts, and manuscripts, in addition to presenting at local and national events. She has held numerous volunteer positions with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and previously sat on the Board of Directors (2004-2007). She holds the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) certifications and is a Fellow of the NSCA.

The Terry J. Housh Outstanding Young Investigator Award is given in recognition of a researcher who has been in the field for seven years or less. Accepting this accolade in 2024 is Dimitrije Cabarkapa, PhD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D.

Dr. Dimitrije Cabarkapa is an Associate Director of the Jayhawk Athletic Performance Laboratory at the University of Kansas, part of the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance. Strongly influenced by his personal playing experience, Dimitrije’s research interests are directed toward the field of sports science and athlete performance enhancement. Over the last five years, he has published more than 70 peer-reviewed research articles and presented at multiple regional, national, and international conferences. Also, Dimitrije successfully established strong collaborative relationships with many well-recognized sports organizations and academic institutions across the world, including the USA, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Some of his current and upcoming research projects are focused on examining biomechanical and neuromuscular performance characteristics of professional athletes, physical and physiological responses during training and competition, as well as the implementation of innovative technology for athlete performance monitoring.

Recipients of the William J. Kraemer Outstanding Sport Scientist Award are recognized for exemplary contributions and breakthroughs in the field of applied exercise and sport science. Acquiring this accomplishment in 2024 is Rhodri S. Lloyd, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA.

Dr. Rhodri S. Lloyd is a Professor of Pediatric Strength and Conditioning and the Head of the Centre for Applied Sport Science and Medicine at Cardiff Metropolitan University. His research interests surround the impact of growth and maturation on long-term athletic development and the neuromuscular mechanisms underpinning training responsiveness and injury risk in young athletes. To date, he has published more than 170 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 35 book chapters, and three textbooks on the topics of pediatric strength and conditioning and long-term athletic development, including the NSCA’s inaugural position statement on long-term athletic development. In collaboration with fellow staff and doctoral researchers, Rhodri’s research influences the service provision of ~140 young athletes within the Youth Physical Development Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University. He serves as a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) and as an Associate Editor for both the Strength and Conditioning Journal (SCJ) and Pediatric Exercise Science (PES).

Congratulations to all our outstanding awardees — your dedication to excellence strengthens the NSCA and elevates our entire profession.

The NSCA invites you to join us in celebrating their achievements at the 2024 NSCA National Conference in Baltimore, MD, and online on July 10-13. Register now at

For more information about the NSCA’s esteemed awards, visit

Media Note: To schedule an interview with award winners, please contact

About the National Strength & Conditioning Association

Founded in 1978, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a recognized 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit dedicated to advancing strength and conditioning science and education for all people.

The NSCA exists to empower the public and professionals across the strength and conditioning spectrum with evidence-based information to safely and effectively enhance health and performance. Our community consists of more than 60,000 Members and Certified Professionals worldwide who further best practices as researchers, educators, strength and conditioning coaches, performance and sport scientists, personal trainers, tactical professionals, and other exercise science-related roles.

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