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College of Physical Activity
and Sport Sciences

CPASS courtyard view


23 Nov
Alyson Snyder race Alyson Snyder is an undergrad PETE major, minoring in music performance. She has served active duty in the military for four and a half years.

Snyder serves in the WV Army National Guard with the 249th Army Band and was recently promoted to the rank of sergeant. Upon her promotion, her unit put her in charge of physical training. Snyder began competing in Army ten mile races three years ago to stay in shape and challenge herself.

Snyder recently completed the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C.

“The Marine Corps Marathon was different, though it meant a lot more to me because I decided to run for my professor who passed away last year,” Snyder explained.

Training for the marathon was difficult and there were times she wanted to give up but she remembered how motivating her professor was, and she persevered. Balancing the military, school and running is sometimes difficult for Snyder, but she says it is all worth it in the end.

To fundraise for the race, she chose to work with Team Fisher House. Within her first year, she was recognized as one of the top 50 fundraisers. Those results motivated her to work even harder the next year. She made bracelets to sell and asked local businesses for donations. She was the number one fundraiser that year.
23 Nov
Abildso_SofPH-story By Olivia Dale Pape – WVU School of Public Health

West Virginia University’s most passionate advocate for bicycle and pedestrian safety will deliver his message to a national audience in early December. The Vision Zero conference in Philadelphia will bring together experts and allies from public and private sectors to look at road crashes and how to reduce traffic deaths to zero.

CPASS SEP grad Christiaan Abildso, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the WVU School of Public Health, is both a cyclist and a scientist.

“I’ll be speaking about how we used pedestrian and bicycle crash data to impact policy in West Virginia,” Abildso said. “We are driven by data. If we know a policy could move the needle for road safety, we have to go after it.”

Abildso’s invitation to speak at the Vision Zero conference is a result of a 2012 student project he was a co-precept on, alongside former School of Public Health faculty member Kelly Gurka, PhD MPH. The MPH candidate leading the project, Courtney Newhouse, worked in collaboration with the WVU Injury Control Research Center, WV AARP and CPASS.

The Vision Zero initiative started in Sweden, born from the idea to reframe the way groups look at road safety. Vision Zero takes the attitude that crashes and road incidents are preventable. The Philadelphia Vision Zero conference is scheduled on December 3 at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
17 Nov
Brady-Nolan CPASS student Brady Nolan of Reader and Joy Wang of Charleston were announced as this year’s honorees during halftime of the WVU vs. Texas Tech football game on Nov. 7 at Milan Puskar Stadium. The awards are given each year as part of WVU’s Mountaineer Week festivities.

“I applied to be Mr. Mountaineer because I have respect for the award which is given to a male student who shows outstanding academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. I have represented the University in several ways throughout my undergraduate career and I thought my involvement and academic success would make me a good candidate for the award,” Nolan explained.

Nolan is a senior athletic coaching education major and Honors College student. Nolan served as a New Student Orientation leader and a member of the Mountaineer Marching Band for three years. Nolan was named as the alternate Mountaineer Mascot for 2014-2015. He was sponsored by the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

“To win such a prestigious award at West Virginia University puts a perfect finish to my undergraduate career. Being named a finalist was also a great feeling. I feel that all of the finalists are very qualified and deserving of the award. I take great pride in West Virginia University and the state of West Virginia, so being named “Mr. Mountaineer” means a lot to me. WVU has rich culture and tradition and I am proud to represent this University as Mr. Mountaineer,” Nolan added.

As Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer, Nolan and Wang will help host and participate in a number of University activities throughout the year. In addition to the Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer presentation, WVU’s ‘Most Loyals’ were honored. The 2015 honorees are: Mike Ross, Most Loyal West Virginian; Woody Thrasher, Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer; Melissa Morris, Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer; and Joe Dennis, Most Loyal Staff Mountaineer.

The award recipients are chosen by a joint committee representing the WVU Foundation, WVU Alumni Association and the Mountaineer Week organizing committee. Mountaineer Week is an annual celebration of West Virginia’s rich Appalachian heritage and traditions. The activities serve to remind and educate WVU students about the culture that has made West Virginia what it is today. The festival commemorated its 68th year this fall.
17 Nov
Canned Food Drive Some Morgantown area families and WVU students face tough times throughout the year and especially during the holidays and cold weather. This holiday season, the CPASS Dean’s Advisory Board is coordinating a food drive to help fill the shelves of surrounding food banks. Please help by donating non-perishable food items from Monday, Nov. 16 through December 11. Bins are placed throughout the CPASS building. For more information, contact Taylor Opperhauser,

Please consider donating the following non-perishable items for the drive: canned beans, rice, tuna, chicken, sardines, grains, pasta, tomato paste or personal care items.
11 Nov
SHAPE Numerous CPASS graduates and one doctoral student presented at the SHAPE PETE Conference in Atlanta at the end of October, including CPASS faculty Eloise Elliott, James Hannon and Stephen Harvey.

Tyler Goad, current doctoral student, discussed PETE technology applications. Recent doctoral program grads, Luciana Braga and Kacey DiGiacinto, presented while graduates Rachel Gurvitch, Georgia State University, Beth Hersman Khalaf, Wright State University, Tony Pritchard, Georgia Southern, and Scott Townsend and Derek Mohr, Appalachian State University, also presented.

At the 2015 WVHAPERD Conference at Pipestem Resort and State Park in late October, several WVU CPASS faculty attended, including Sean Bulger, Emily Jones and Andrea Taliaferro. The following students and faculty earned awards:

  • Sarah Verdis, UG PETE, received the Bea N. Orr Student Award and a Presidential Citation from WVAHPERD President Keith Bowling
  • Kibum Cho, PhD CATS, received the Ethnic Minority Graduate Fellowship
  • Stephen Harvey received the Scholar Award
  • Amanda Metcalf, graduate, PETE doctoral program and current faculty member at Fairmont State University, received the Young Professionals Award

Additionally, the following WVU CPASS faculty members will serve on the WVAHPERD board and representative assembly for the 2015-2016 year:

  • Obidiah Atkinson, UG PETE, student representative
  • Annie Machamer, PhD CATS, dance section chair
  • James Hannon, vice president-elect for higher education
  • Emily Jones, past-vice president for higher education

The college recognizes Byron Towner, Greg Goodwin, Sean Bulger, Andrea Taliaferro and Emily Jones who presented at WVHAPERD pre-conference workshops on Thursday afternoon. Towner shared insights at the young professional’s workshop, which was coordinated by Sarah Verdis, 2015 student representative. Goodwin presented on university level recruitment and retention issues and solutions and Bulger, Taliaferro and Jones presented on the strategic recruitment and retention efforts employed within the PETE program.

Six graduate students traveled to Pipestem to present practical and research-oriented sessions. These students represented the college by sharing new ideas: Adam Keath, Annie Machamer, Hannah Kipfer, David Robertson, Gentry Shrewsbury and Jun Baek. Congratulations to WVU CPASS students, faculty and alumni who successfully exemplified leadership at the state and national levels.

20 Oct

WVU has long-lasting impact on PETE grad

Jessica | October 20th, 2015
Gordy WVU Ryan Gordy, MS in PETE 2010-2012 cohort, works as a wellness instructor at Canton High School and is the Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach at Canton High School, Canton, MA. He teaches both physical education and health classes 9-12. He’s taught for seven years and coached high school basketball for 10 years, and served as the varsity coach at CHS for five years.

According to Gordy, Massachusetts has an extensive teacher certification program requiring multiple years of service, professional development, standardized testing, furthered education and positive evaluations. The state uses a tiered system consisting of three levels. Certification begins with a preliminary license, followed by an initial license and eventually ending at a professional license.

“When I started at WVU, I only held a preliminary license in both health and physical education, grades 6-12. This past spring I obtained a professional license in both health and physical education grades K-12, and this fall I obtained an administrative license in supervisor/leadership roles after completing a 300 hour administrative internship and practicum,” he explained.

Gordy gives credit to his experiences while at WVU CPASS. “The WVU PETE program was and still is an essential step for me to obtain this highest certification in my state. My goals are to become an athletic director, or a district wellness coordinator responsible for a wellness program K-12. Both are administrative jobs,” said Gordy.

Gordy has extensive networking skills. He has arranged corporate sponsorship deals with local businesses to benefit the wellness department and Athletics programs through donations of gear, equipment and capital. Partnerships include the New England Patriots and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium to allow the school’s soccer teams to play games on their field.

“My school has struck an agreement with ADIDAS as our official sponsor for athletics. The ADIDAS team sales world headquarters is located in our town. They give our program more than $30,000 each year toward uniforms and equipment. We have many local banks who sponsor our wellness department which helps us purchase equipment and renovate our fitness center for PE classes,” said Gordy

Additionally, Dunkin Donuts world headquarters, located in Canton, has allows the school’s basketball program to play at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI, home to the Providence Friars Big East basketball team.

“We have an agreement with our local YMCA who we use to train our student body about leadership, something we value very highly at Canton HS. Many other businesses in town contribute to our cause,” he added.
20 Oct
Diversity-Cup-winners The College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, in partnership with the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Brazilian Student Association at WVU, celebrated the spirit of sport, friendship and inclusiveness during Diversity Week 2015. The group hosted Diversity Cup 2015, a coed soccer tournament, at the student recreational fields outside the CPASS building.

Diversity Cup 2015 was won by Danone FC who defeated 6-0 Mercadinho Cidade Jardim in the final game of the 15 team double-elimination tournament. The entire event stretched across two weekends – September 27 and October 4. Teams were required to have both genders represented on the field at all times in a 5-on-5, no goalie style of play which led to incredible scoring and spectacular finishes.

Participants in the Diversity Cup 2015 included a total of 113 students – 34 females and 79 males – representing 36 majors and programs across campus, among these biochemistry, business, marketing, wood science, industrial engineering, electrical engineering, art, intensive English program, geology, political science, forensics, pharmacy and social work. CPASS students represented 25 percent of the participants. All five majors in the college were represented.

CPASS administration provided the initiative for the event as part of the celebration of WVU’s annual Diversity Week. CPASS faculty Gonzalo Bravo and Zack Vaji, a sport management master’s student, and Natalia Sterci, president of the Brazilian Student Association, directed the event logistics. Bravo, Vaji and Sterci coordinated the 34 other volunteers including students from the Sport Management Club and faculty and students from PETE, SEP, and Athletic Training who worked enthusiastically during the two days of this event. CPASS also provided marketing support for the event.
19 Oct

SEP features peer advising program

Jessica | October 19th, 2015

Peer advisors have become a very important component within the sport and exercise psychology program. Created in the spring of 2009, peer advising offers a unique support system for SEP undergraduate students.

Peer advisors, who are typically juniors and seniors, have proven their focus on academics. They are selected due to their motivation and understanding of the major.

“I enjoy having the ability to meet people in the SEP program. It’s definitely a great way to start the networking process for the students and the peer advisors. You never know when you could see someone around campus or in a class one day,” Anna Onderik, SEP peer advisor, explained.

Participating students receive one credit hour for advising which qualifies as SEP 491 professional field experience.

The peer advisors dedicate four hours a week to work with fellow students. They share advice and direction to help complete their undergraduate degree. They also offer assistance regarding scheduling, study skills, academic concerns, preparation for graduate studies and career transitions.

SEP peer advisors are available throughout the semester to serve as a resource for students in need of academic assistance and act as a link to faculty.

7 Oct
Zenzi Huysmans Zenzi Huysmans, sport and exercise psychology PhD student, recently received the Association for Applied Sport Psychology Student Diversity Conference Travel Grant. Huysmans, from Swaziland, a small country in South East Africa, is excited about the opportunity.

The grant provides racially and ethnically diverse students, with a developing interest in sport and exercise psychology, the chance to learn more about the field, develop professional connection within AASP, and also attend the annual conference in October.

Huysmans’ academic advisor, Dr. Damien Clement, provided a letter of recommendation. Clement is an AASP member who advocates for increased grants and other opportunities specifically designed to promote diversity in the association.

“I am aiming to return home to Swaziland to create my own youth sport program that combines sport with health behavior change initiatives such as HIV prevention,” explained Huysmans.

6 Oct
Ashley Morgan Ashley Morgan, BS Sports and Exercise Psychology 2015, wanted to put her degree to good use. Once she explored her options she discovered an interest in public administration. CPASS faculty guided Morgan through her decisions to make the next step in her career.

“After a long conversation with Dr. Zizzi, he had me thinking that there might be another program out there,” Morgan said. “This is when he introduced the public administration Master’s program to me.” After meeting with several faculty members about the program, Morgan decided this was the track for her.

Morgan ultimately landed an internship with Senator Joe Manchin III’s office in Washington D.C. to gain experience in the field. She spent two months during the summer of 2015 working on Capitol Hill.

Morgan frequently worked with the healthcare legislative team that focused on the prescription drug epidemic that the state of West Virginia is facing. She became involved with the Education Bill that passed through the senate.

“During Senator Manchin’s speech on the Senate floor he included many of the statistics that I research,” Morgan said.

Morgan appreciates the guidance she received from CPASS faculty. “The relationship with CPASS faculty helped me have the confidence to apply for an internship that seemed out of my reach,” Morgan said.

Although her internship was based on a public administration route, she used team building techniques and a variety of theories that she learned throughout her undergraduate career with CPASS.

“As an alumnus of CPASS I advise all students to take full advantage of every opportunity and take every moment for what it is,” Morgan said.

Morgan looked to Dr. Zizzi, Dr. Clement, Dr. Watson, Professor Brewster and Dr. Etzel for advice and guidance while applying for the internship as well as throughout her career goals.

“I always knew that they would support me in all that I do,” she explained. “I consider Professor Brewster to be a mentor. He has helped me through every aspect of Student Government and helped me find my voice and discover my passion.”

“I know that I would not be the person I am today without CPASS,” Morgan added. “This college changed my life and I cannot thank CPASS enough for supporting me in all that I did and still do.”