Dr. Kristina Wilson, a Pediatric Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and member of the AIA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, will take over as chairperson beginning with this new school year. She replaces Dr. Javier Cárdenas as chair, who has been a part of SMAC for 10 years and will continue to serve on the committee.

A five-sport letter winner in high school, Dr. Wilson specializes in non-operative treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, overuse injuries, sport specific rehabilitation and has a special interest in injury prevention, advocacy and concussion treatment and management.

“I look forward to the opportunity to lead such an amazing and dedicated group of clinicians from multiple disciplines from all over the state,” Dr. Wilson stated. “I plan to use my expertise to guide the committee in continuing to formulate guidelines and recommendations for the member schools regarding safer return to youth sports through a pandemic with a focus on student-athlete mental health and wellness. I also plan to continue and expand upon the work the committee has already embarked on with regard to concussion awareness and education, and opiate misuse and abuse, which continues to be a major issue for our youth.”

“I am happy that Dr. Wilson has graciously accepted the role of AIA Sports Medical Advisory Committee chair. There is no better time than now. There is no better person than Dr. Wilson to assume the role of chair for this top-tier group of professionals,” added Dr. Cárdenas.

For almost 15 years, Dr. Wilson has served as a medical director for several Arizona high schools and has been an active member of SMAC for the past six. She serves on the transgender subcommittee, and as such, was instrumental in revising the transgender student-athlete application to make the process more efficient for those desiring to compete in their identified gender. Through her service to SMAC, Dr. Wilson has worked with members of the committee to create guidelines and an education campaign to reduce skin infections in wrestling, develop a pre-contest emergency preparedness check-in with coaches, officials and medical personnel at AIA sponsored events. Most recently she led the committee in the development and drafting of the return to sport guidelines in relation to COVID-19.

Dr. Wilson has met with state legislators regarding policies that affect children and adolescents in Arizona, particularly those regarding safe and equitable participation in sports and physical activity. She is an active member of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine and serves as the Arizona state legislative contact for that organization.

Dr. Cárdenas assumed the role of SMAC chair at a time when concussions and concussion-related research was at the forefront. As a neurologist and specialist on concussions and brain injuries, Dr. Cárdenas was the perfect choice to lead SMAC. Now with the AIA serving as a national leader in concussion education, it is the perfect time for Dr. Wilson to provide leadership in other areas that will create a safer environment for Arizona’s student-athletes.

AIA Executive Director David Hines has found these two physicians and the SMAC committee as a whole to be a tremendous resource for AIA member schools.

Hines stated, “I want to personally thank Dr. Cárdenas for his 10 years of service as chair of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. He has been a national leader in the field of concussions and sports medicine, while being a great resource for Arizona student-athletes. I also want to welcome Dr. Wilson to her new position. She will use her expertise to continue the great work that is done by this valuable committee.”

The AIA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has enacted many policies over the years that have been adopted by other state associations and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The rule in football requiring players to leave for one play if their helmet comes off was first enacted here in Arizona and then adopted nationally.

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