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College of Physical Activity
and Sport Sciences

CPASS courtyard view


10 Aug
Jerry_Handley_2014 A CPASS Athletic Coaching Education graduate has created a workout facility that offers area residents the same personal strength training that college, professional and Olympic athletes experience.

Viking Performance Training founder Jerry Handley’s interest in physical training was never tied to his participation in a sport, instead, he became intrigued by the science and passion that establishes the drive to succeed. According to Handley, a former West Virginia University conditioning coach, this makes Morgantown-based VPT unique to other gyms and weight lifting facilities.

“The future of VPT is going to be big. We’ve grown very quickly because athletes have seen the results of a sport-specific program and it’s something never offered in Morgantown to this degree,” explained Handley.

Instead of implementing traditional, standardized workout regimens, each member receives an individualized training plan, based on fitness and health goals or personalized to an athlete’s position or role on the team.

“Morgantown has gyms, but Viking Performance is the only training center where athletes anywhere from middle school to the Olympics can be trained directly for their specific goal,” he added.

Handley spent more than a decade working as a strength and conditioning coach at WVU where he was responsible for training of every varsity sports program throughout his career. Handley has worked with Mike Barwis, former WVU strength and conditioning director, and other nationally known top strength coaches, while learning the many variables that go into achieving elite fitness goals.

22 Jul
Nicole Young Remarkable effort and determination have paid dividends for two College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences students. Nicole Young and Elizabeth Janeiro were chosen for the 2015 class of McNair Scholars as members of an elite program that began at WVU in 1999.

A federally-funded TRIO program, McNair Scholars helps high-achieving first-generation and underrepresented students prepare for graduate school. McNair Scholars serves students through financial assistance, academic guidance and counseling and undergraduate research opportunities.

“I was extremely excited that I had been selected,” explained Young. “I was very proud that the hard work that I had done while in school was being acknowledged and I was honored that the McNair staff had seen the potential in me to do well in such a prestigious program.”

As members of the 16th cohort at WVU to earn this scholarship, Young and Janeiro will receive placement assistance, development opportunities to help them gain admission to a graduate school and a $2,400 annual stipend.

1512423_10153462858667710_6661288394129483991_n “After graduate school, I see myself working at a rehabilitation facility. I hope to help those with substance addiction to recover. I believe that they can recover and contribute to their communities,” said Janeiro.

The scholars recently finished their summer internship classes and attended the SUNY Buffalo Undergraduate Research Conference in July to help prepare for graduate school. They will con-tinue to conduct their proposed research with WVU faculty mentors during the 2015-2016 academic year.

29 Jun

This fall, two College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences graduates will join the WVU 2015 Sports Hall of Fame induction class.

On September 26, prior to the West Virginia-Maryland football game, WVU Sports will recognize six honorees for their extraordinary contributions made both as student-athletes and in their careers.

WVU will honor Kevin Gilson and Ken Herock, along with four other outstanding former Mountaineers, in the Hall of Fame.

Kevin Gilson arrived at WVU in August 1965 after earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Maryland the previous year. During his time at West Virginia, Gilson attended graduate school to earn both his master’s and doctorate degrees.

“CPASS was instrumental in the formation of my philosophies for teaching, coaching and life in general. While in graduate school, I was fortunate to have many outstanding faculty as mentors and later as colleagues and friends,” explained Gilson.

Gilson is best remembered for his accomplishments as Head Coach of the WVU Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving team from 1967-1996. During his 30 year leadership, Gilson acquired countless awards including West Virginia Coach of the Year, four-time Eastern Conference Coach of the Year, and was named the Men’s and Women’s Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 1994.

Ken Herock, a Pennsylvania native, traveled to WVU to begin his career on the gridiron. Herock went on to earn three varsity letters as a Mountaineer, his first in 1960 as a sophomore tight end and linebacker.

Despite his letter-worthy performance, WVU did not win a single game during the 1960 season. Herock and the Mountaineers remained disciplined throughout the offseason and went on to win 12 games in the next two seasons. Herock led the defensive effort with more than 100 career tackles. He was also the first Mountaineer to play in a Super Bowl.

After his final season as a Mountaineer, Herock entered the 1963 NFL draft where he was selected by the Oakland Raiders. After six successful seasons as a player, Herock joined administration as teams across the NFL recognized his expertise, where he served in multiple positions throughout numerous organizations.

Herock’s 38-year NFL resume lists him as a scout, coach, personnel director, and general manager. His favorite role was as a talent hunter. “I definitely enjoyed being a scout. I loved traveling to meet these upcoming stars. You could see the passion they had for the sport and I could always relate to that,” he explained.

A native of Munhall, Pennsylvania, Herock is a member of the CPASS Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania State Hall of Fame.

18 Jun
Amy Sidwell_1 (1) A team of students at Fairmont State University, led by CPASS grad Dr. Amy Sidwell, was one of ten nationwide winners of the 2014 Ford Community College Challenge. The students’ plan, titled ‘Bridging the Gap: Sustainable Nutrition through Community Revitalization,” stems from sharing knowledge and creating a partnership between Fairmont State University, advisors and the community.

Each winning team was awarded a grant of $25,000 to support their work. The Bridging the Gap project reclaimed tennis courts that were no longer in use and turned them into the Fairmont Community Garden.
Dr. Amy Sidwell, assistant professor, Health and Physical Education, FSU, created the project along with her students.

“The Ford College Community Challenge at Fairmont State University has provided our students the opportunity to develop skills that are important for employment. Two of our Community Health Education graduates have highlighted their work with the Fairmont Community Garden as they have applied and interviewed for jobs since graduating in May,” Sidwell explained.

Along with the positive effect this project has had on both the community and the environment, Bridging the Gap has provided numerous educational opportunities to not only the FSU students involved but the entire community as well.
“Students from the College of Science and Technology have learned how a community-based problem needs clear collaboration, design, and construction. While these two academic disciplines may seem different, students learn how to reach out to different stakeholders to address community needs. Those skills will serve them well as they seek employment,” stated Sidwell.

The project focused on impacting three areas: the construction of a bridge connecting the garden to the 5th street Park, an increase in fresh produce accessibility and also hands-on learning experience for the FSU students. All of these areas have been successfully completed. The project will continue to grow and help the community in various ways.

“There are a vast number of community gardens within the state of West Virginia, and throughout the country. What makes our project unique is that our project involves college students taking a leadership role in sustainability,” Sidwell stated.

16 Jun
Bravo West Virginia University’s Gonzalo Bravo, associate professor of sport management, CPASS, will speak before the Sport Committee of the House of Representatives within the Brazil Ministry of Sports on June 23, 2015 in the city capital of Brasilia, in Brazil.

Since being selected as the host of the two largest sporting events in the world, the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian government is currently examining the present and future impact of sport in its country. To further explore national systems, the Brazil House of Representatives has invited sports authorities and experts to evaluate the development of a future Brazil sport system.

Bravo’s presentation will discuss the structure and organization of sport within a select group of countries worldwide, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Mexico. His previous efforts on studying national sport systems gives him a unique expertise to provide not only the highlights of sport policies in other countries, but also the similarities and differences of those countries when compared with the Brazilian sport system.

Last May, Bravo and five CPASS students visited several sport organizations and businesses in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as a part of study abroad trip to Brazil. Bravo also led a special topic two-credit course titled Sport in Brazil last spring.

Bravo’s research interests in sport governance and policy have been significantly influenced by his unique blended experience of serving in both the professional and academic worlds. At CPASS, Bravo instructs undergraduate and graduate courses in sport governance, sport in the global market, research methods and history and philosophy of sport.

Related to policy and governance, Bravo’s work has examined the role of public and private structures in shaping the sport system across Latin American countries. He is the co-editor of International Sport Management (published by Human Kinetics) and the main editor of Sport in Latin America: Policy, Management and Organizations (Routledge) scheduled to be in print in early 2016.

5 Jun
Ed-Etzel_Olympic-Gold Three Olympians will visit the West Virginia University campus next week as part of the 2015 National Coaching Conference hosted by the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

Edward Etzel, 1984 Rifle and gold medalist and West Virginia University faculty member, Melinda Rhoads, 1984 Team Handball and 4th place in the Games and Clarissa Chun, 2008 and 2012 wrestling and bronze medalist in London, will attend the opening reception of the conference June 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Hall B at the Waterfront Place Hotel.

The event is free and open to the public.

The conference, which runs June 10-12, is sponsored by the United States Coaching Coalition, made up of the U.S. Olympic Committee, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, SHAPE American and the National Strength and Coaching Association.

WVU CPASS athletic coaching education faculty have a strong presence in the field and these organizations.

Kristen Dieffenbach, associate professor, athletic coaching education at WVU, has a history working with the USOC and various athletic coaching education associations, including the National Council for the Accreditation of Coaching Education. She has attended the conference for the past nine years.

“This conference has been growing in strength and size. This year we have a strong program that includes both national and international scholars and leaders in the field,” said Dieffenbach.

This year’s theme is “Physical Literacy: The Launching Pad for Lifetime Athletic Development and Performance,” which focuses on integrating athletic development for both performance and participation. Top speakers, researchers and coaches will be on campus to discuss these ideas.

Dean Kriellaars, associate professor from Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Manitoba, will highlight the keynote speakers. He is a world-renowned physical literacy expert whose research focuses on obesity and prevention of disease and injury.

Also speaking is Tom Farrey, ESPN reporter and executive director, Aspen Institute, Sport and Society Program; Sergio Lara-Bercial, International Council for Coaching Excellence; Brain Hainline, chief medical officer, NCAA Sport Science Institute; and Dan Schuster, director of coaching education, National Federation of High Schools.

For more information about the event and to register as a participant, please visit:

5 May
Brazil_Drums With the recent hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Soccer and the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, scholars around the world have focused their attention on Brazil.

This past spring semester five College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences students were enrolled in the special topic course Sport in Brazil. Gonzalo Bravo, associate professor in CPASS sport management, served as the architect behind this course as well as the lead-faculty of the Brazil study abroad trip this summer.

One of the main objectives of the Sport in Brazil course was to prepare students who are participating in this international experience, which includes visits to the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In Brazil, the CPASS group will meet nine other students and one faculty member from the School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management, James Madison University. The two groups will spend seven days visiting several sport-related organizations and other landmark tourist sites.

Brazil_JiuJitsu CPASS students in the Sport in Brazil course had the opportunity to learn and discuss aspects related to sport along with the history and culture of Brazil. Earlier in the semester, Natalia Sterci, president, Brazilian Student Association and a graduate student in the WVU Department of World Languages, presented two sessions on Brazilian culture. Dr. Michael Vercelli, director, World Music Performance Center at WVU, introduced the students to the African roots of Brazilian music. Finally, members of the Anu Academy of Martial Arts in Morgantown conducted a demonstration on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
30 Apr
IMG_0264 Faculty members in the West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences were recently recognized for outstanding teaching, research and service for the 2014-15 academic year.

Samuel Zizzi, professor, sport exercise psychology, was recognized as teacher of the year. Zizzi was recognized as a research Fellow by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology in 2012. In addition, he is a manuscript reviewer for a variety of journals in the fields of SEP and public health. His research pursuits span both sport and exercise psychology.

Stephen Harvey, associate professor, physical education teacher education, was recognized as outstanding researcher. Harvey’s research focuses on pedagogical models and teacher/coach behavior to improve teaching and coaching practice. He recently co-authored Advances in Rugby Coaching: An Holistic Approach.

Valerie Wayda, associate professor, athletic coaching education, and Coaching and Teaching Studies department chair, was recognized as servant of the year. Wayda is a Fellow of the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals. She recently received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award for her contributions as an outstanding member of the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education.

The McDowell CHOICES team was recognized as grants person of the year. CPASS members of the group include Sean Bulger, Eloise Elliott, Emily Jones, and Andrea Taliaferro. McDowell CHOICES aims to improve physical activity opportunities for citizens of McDowell County, W. Va., in school and family settings. The program provides a variety of activities, from karate to archery, with participating schools across the county.

Faculty are recognized in teaching, research and service by their academic divisions as part of the promotion and tenure review process. College-wide honorees are then selected by a college-level committee.

28 Apr

In recognition of their exceptional community service, the undergraduate Sport and Exercise Psychology Club has received the Student Organization of the Year award from the Center for Service and Learning. The group was honored at the Excellence in Civic Engagement Award ceremony held on April 15.

“Being involved in community service is one of the core missions of the SEP club. This award recognizes the club and its members for their efforts in giving back to West Virginia University and the Morgantown community,” said Dr. Damien Clement, CPASS associate professor.

Kristen Siers, a senior Sport and Exercise Psychology student, serves as SEP club president. Although the club is active across campus in a variety of events, Siers expressed that the organization takes a special pride in their community service component.

“The Center for Service and Learning is focused on civic engagement and service to the community, so to be able to represent WVU and CPASS on those terms is an incredible feeling,” Siers said.

The SEP club supported various service-based opportunities in the last year, including the West Virginia Family Grief Center, WVU Children’s Hospital Gala, Make-A-Difference Day, Animal Friends Thrift Shoppe, and more.

Siers describes the Trunk-or-Treat event at the Coliseum as her personal favorite. “We always dress up in our favorite team jerseys and it is so much fun to see the kids and their families have such a good time,” she added.

“Giving back to WVU and the Morgantown community is important for CPASS students, so I am glad that our club provides opportunities for our students and members to go together,” Siers said.

28 Apr
WVBB_SM_gradstudents College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences graduate students have been immersed in a unique sports marketing experience as interns for the West Virginia Black Bears, a minor league baseball team.

A collaboration between Rich Baseball Operations and the WVU graduate sports management students began in September 2014. Rich Baseball Operations approached CPASS professor Dr. Dallas Branch to partner with his sports marketing class to execute a “Name the Team” fan contest.

Kristen Furlong, of Baltimore, Md., Andrew DiPietrantonio of Beaver, Pa., Manuel Garcia-Oronoz of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and Brett Ervin of Clarksburg, directed the contest to name Morgantown’s new professional baseball team, a Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The fans’ response to the “Name the Team” contest was overwhelming, especially considering the short time frame to oversee the project. CPASS students had only a month and a half to generate exposure for the team. During that time, the group received 2,500 suggestions. More than 10,000 participants voted on the top 10 names.

“The server actually shut down from the huge response,” DiPietrantonio explained. “People have been very receptive of the Black Bear name and the logo, which has been rated a 9.1 out of 10.”

The students provided direct input in the naming process and received valuable experience in generating radio and newspaper coverage. They also gained the opportunity to network with coaches and county commissioners.

“It is great opportunity for students to get their foot in the door of the business side of professional baseball and the experience they gain is very valuable,” said Ernie Galusky, the Black Bears assistant general manager. “Almost every single paid position in professional baseball is filled with someone who interned in a similar situation while they were in college.”

Galusky believes the internship experience is a win-win situation, with the Black Bears receiving valuable assistance while students learned marketing and business essentials of running a professional team.

“I truly enjoy being involved in the startup of this team and can’t wait to see what this first season will bring,” said Furlong. “There are not many people that get to be involved in the making and branding of a new team so I am grateful to be a part of it and believe the experience will help when I begin to look for a career.”

Working with a team from its inception was a uniquely beneficial experience for these graduate students. “It was a great opportunity to see things start from the ground up, and we got to grow with the Black Bears,” DiPietrantonio said.

For Garcia-Oronoz, the internship confirmed his desire to become involved with sport marketing in the future. “Working with the Black Bears really helped me understand the entire process,” he added.

Branch agrees that the students are enjoying a unique experience. “No other students in the country have a chance like this to execute a naming process; it is really special.”

WV BlackBears logo

Next up for the Black Bears is preparation for the fast-approaching season. Seats were recently installed in the stadium, and season tickets and team merchandise are now on sale. CPASS students will continue to work with the team until May; the season opener is June 19.

You can keep up with the team on Twitter (@WVBlackBears) or Information on season tickets and packages is available at