Phoenix Suns

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Head Athletic Trainer

aaron_nelsonAaron Nelson MS, ATC, AT, CES
College: Iowa State University (B.S.)
California University of Pennsylvania (M.S.)
Years in NBATA: 15
NBA.com Bio

Aaron Nelson serves as the Suns’ Vice President of Athlete Care in his 15th season as the Suns’ head athletic trainer, only the second in team history. Nelson, who was the second-youngest head athletic trainer in the NBA when he was promoted, was originally hired as the Suns’ assistant athletic trainer in 1993.  He and his staff have built the Suns into an industry-leader with a reputation for prolonging the careers of some of the game’s best.

Included in his role are the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, athlete performance enhancement and recovery, and assisting in the travel operation of the team.Nelson TOY 02 10 small

Nelson, who was named the Joe O’Toole NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association for 2009, is certified and licensed as an athletic trainer, performance enhancement specialist (PES) and corrective exercise specialist (CES). He is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), Arizona Athletic Trainers Association (AZATA) and National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBATA). In the Spring of 2010, Nelson was appointed by Arizona’s Governor Brewer to serve on the Arizona Board of Athletic Training where he currently serves as Chairman. Nelson served as the athletic trainer for the USA Basketball Men’s Select Team that helped prepare the 2007 USA Senior National Team for the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas.

Following graduation from Iowa State University in December 1992, Nelson spent the spring 1993 semester as a graduate assistant at Arizona State University. While an undergraduate, he was a student athletic trainer for four years under NATA Hall of Famer Frank Randall. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with an emphasis on Athletic Training and a minor in Health. Nelson, who is a member of the Advisory Board for Fusionetics, received his Master of Science degree in Exercise Science from California University at Pennsylvania.

In the summer of 2004, Nelson completed a two-week volunteer internship with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in the sports medicine department at the Olympic training facility in Chula Vista, Calif., working primarily with track and field and Paralympic athletes. Nelson participated as the athletic trainer for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders in Ljubljana, Slovenia in the summer of 2011 and in Johannesburg, South Africa in the summer of 2014.

The Manning, Iowa native is the brother-in-law of Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. He and wife Jessica have two sons, Andrew and Logan, and a daughter, Emma.


Assistant Athletic Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach

ElliottMike Elliott
College:  Arizona State University (B.S.)
California University of Pennsylvania (M.S.)
Years in NBATA:  12

Mike Elliott, the 2013-14 NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, is in his 12th season as a member of the Suns’ renowned athletic training staff and sixth season as the club’s head strength and conditioning coach/assistant athletic trainer. In his role, he is responsible for all aspects of player strength and conditioning and assists Aaron Nelson with daily recognition, care and treatment of team-related medical issues.

Elliott has also engineered an overhaul of the Suns’ nutrition program which centers on educating players to optimize performance and recovery with a commitment to well-sourced, whole, organic foods.

Originally joining the Suns full-time in 2003-04 as assistant athletic trainer, Elliott was named NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Strength and Conditioning Association (NBSCA) following the 2013-14 season. Elliott has also served as the lead strength and conditioning coach for the British Men’s National Team, joining the program in 2010 as the team trained for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Elliott is a certified athletic trainer, performance enhancement specialist (PES) and corrective exercise specialist (CES) from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He received his Master of Science in performance enhancement and injury prevention from California University at Pennsylvania in 2005 and did his undergraduate work in exercise science at Arizona State University where he was in the athletic training program under Perry Edinger and former Suns strength coach/assistant athletic trainer and current Dallas Mavericks Head Athletic Trainer Casey Smith.

The Phoenix native is a 1997 graduate of Brophy College Preparatory and is married to the former Lesley Goldstein.


Assistant Athletic Trainer
MaystadtTom Maystadt
College:  Iowa State University (B.S.)
California University of Pennsylvania (M.S.)
Years in NBATA:  6

Tom Maystadt enters his sixth year with the Phoenix Suns organization as the rehabilitation coordinator and assistant athletic trainer.

Maystadt, who joined the Suns full-time in the 2009-10 season, is a certified athletic trainer, and a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). He also is a corrective exercise specialist (CES) and performance enhancement specialist (PES) from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in 1992 and received a Master of Science degree in exercise science and health promotion, with concentration in rehabilitation sciences from California University of Pennsylvania.

The Carroll, Iowa native married Jennifer Tiefenthaler in 1993 and live in Chandler, AZ with their daughters Grace and Lily ages 13 and 9.