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Mahtomedi High School Athletic Trainer Karen Karlson Named Fred Zamberletti Award Winner

By MN Chapter of the National Football Foundation, 05/18/23, 8:45AM CDT



MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – May 18, 2023 – The Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation is excited to announce that Mahtomedi High School athletic trainer Karen Karlson has been named this year’s recipient of the Fred Zamberletti Award. Karlson will be recognized during this summer’s Minnesota Football Honors television show. 

“Karen Karlson has ensured that hundreds of athletes are healthy, safe and staying on the field. While talking with people around the school, you quickly hear about the meaningful impact she makes on the lives of many students,” said Todd Fultz, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation. “We are very excited to honor Karen during the Minnesota Football Honors television show.” 

Karen, known as TK - “Trainer Karen”’ - by everyone at Mahtomedi, believes that “kids aren’t always looking for someone to fix them, they’re looking for someone to listen.” Her training room is welcoming as she has a candy jar on her desk, puzzles on the table and snacks for those that need them. These connections with student-athletes last forever because as she states, “I really care about them as more than athletes.”

Karen knew she wanted to be an athletic trainer when she was in seventh grade. From that day forward, she made her dream career a reality. Karen graduated from UW-LaCrosse with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education in 1993. She also earned a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota in 1997. While there, she worked with women’s athletics. After graduation, Karlson worked at Blaine High School and Concordia University-St. Paul before starting an eight-year stint at the University of St. Thomas. During her career with the Tommies, Karlson covered men’s/women’s soccer, volleyball, swimming, basketball, hockey, baseball and softball. For the past 16 years, she has been the athletic trainer at Mahtomedi High School. In her spare time, Karen volunteers with the annual St. Paul City Schools’ track and field day and helps with Mahtomedi music festivals.

“Our school and community are blessed to have Karen working with our student-athletes and programs on a daily basis," said Aaron Forsythe, Associate Principal of Athletics and Activities at Mahtomedi High School. “Her attention to preventative care, daily maintenance, and rehabilitation is at the collegiate/professional level. Karen’s rapport with families, staff members, and student-athletes provides an extra level of support that makes the student-athlete’s experience the best it can be.”

The Fred Zamberletti Award honors the late Fred Zamberletti, the Minnesota Vikings’ first head athletic trainer. While working for the organization, Zamberletti became an athletic training pioneer. After his long career as the Vikings’ head athletic trainer, he was named the team’s coordinator for medical services (1998-2001) and senior consultant/team historian (2002-2018). 

Minnesota Football Honors is hosting a show to honor this year’s high school, college and Minnesota Vikings award winners. An official broadcast date will be announced later this summer on


About the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation:

The Minnesota Chapter of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame is a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote amateur football’s ability to develop leadership, sportsmanship, competitive spirit and academic excellence in Minnesota’s young people. The Minnesota Chapter recognizes legendary football icons, college football Hall of Famers and Minnesota’s top high school and college football scholar athletes. For more information, visit, or Facebook (@MNFootballHonors) and Twitter (@NFFMN).


Todd Fultz, President - MN Chapter of the National Football Foundation

Phone: (612)-325-5500

Media Contact:

Daniel House, Director of Media Relations and Content

MN Chapter of The National Football Foundation