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College of Physical Activity
and Sport Sciences

CPASS courtyard view


24 Feb
Straughn_cheer squad

Two years ago, ACE master’s student Shelbie Ann Straughn envisioned creating the first special needs all-star cheerleading team in Morgantown. Through Straughn’s passion to create access for all, the Shining Stars team was born. Today the team is thriving with a complete two and a half minute routine and six competitions under their belt.

Straughn, a life-long cheerleader, came to West Virginia University from Ohio in 2009. She began working as a certified USAF level 5 all-star cheerleading coach at the Champion Training Academy later that year.

The idea of the Shining Stars team originated when Straughn coached a team where two sisters of cheerleaders had disabilities. The sisters loved to watch the girls practice and perform. That’s when she knew she wanted to create an inclusive team for kids with disabilities.

“I wanted to start this program to give back to the community and to give everyone the opportunity to have fun and experience competitive cheerleading,” Straughn said.

“My goal is to get our name and program out around the state of West Virginia and let it be known that this is the first special needs all-star cheerleading team Morgantown has ever had,” she added.

Straughn received support from Stepping Stones, who shared brochures with the Special Olympics organization. The Times West Virginian in Fairmont, W.Va. wrote a front-page article for the sports section. The Shining Stars team began practicing at the CTA by the start of the 2013-14 season.

The team includes seven members and six helpers who are cheerleaders on other teams at CTA. The group practices their routine to music once a week, including tumbling, stunting, jumping, and dancing. CTA tuition, uniform and entrance fees to the competition are all free to the squad. The only athlete expenses are travel costs, a competition bow and cheerleading shoes.

To date the Shining Stars have competed six times in three different states. This year they have competed in Pittsburgh twice. The team is looking forward to the rest of the season, which includes competitions in Ohio, Pennsylvania and the US Finals in Virginia Beach.

“Being able to see the excitement on all of my athletes faces after competing is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced,” Straughn said. She serves as the head coach of the team as well as head coach of the Mini level 1, Junior level 2, and Senior Coed level 3 squads.

Straughn received her bachelor’s degree in Sports and Exercise Psychology, with a minor in Athletic Coaching Education. As an undergraduate she was a member of the Sport and Exercise Psychology club. Currently, Straughn is studying to complete the Disability Studies certificate program and is a graduate assistant in the Office of Accessibility Services.

17 Feb
ACE_Club Sports partnership_1 The CPASS Athletic Coaching Education program has partnered with West Virginia University Club Sports to offer sports conditioning sessions for club teams. The sessions are run by graduate students and supervised by Dr. Clayton Kuklick, CPASS teaching assistant professor.

The ACE major specializes in coaching and the science behind effective coaching strategies. Students in the ACE master’s program oversee the sessions which specialize in strength and conditioning. The group meets at Mylan Park on Tuesday and Thursday nights, with Wednesday afternoon trainings held in the instructional fitness lab and multipurpose gym in the CPASS building.

Kuklick reports a positive response in the first few weeks of the partnership. “In the second week of conditioning, we had 58 participants,” Kuklick said.

Each session includes four or five strength and conditioning interns who work with the athletes. Two of the interns run the training while two oversee strength and conditioning. Athletes have the option to train multiple nights a week. The student coaches tailor the sessions based on the requirements of each sport. However, because there may be athletes on different teams in the same session, the interns work to combine and blend the conditioning.

“There may be softball and boxing athletes in one session. So, the coaches will create a training session to meet the needs of those two sports. There is overlapping in some of the sessions, but the coaches do a great job of mixing up the training,” explained Dr. Kuklick.

Bruce Brubaker, program coordinator for WVU Club Sports, says the partnership with the ACE program is “a tremendous success.” Brubaker has already received positive feedback from athletes who have noticed an improvement in their strength and endurance.

“This is an excellent opportunity to integrate CPASS strength and conditioning expertise with club sports,” Brubaker said. “A lot of participants have never experienced training like this and are really enjoying it.”

Intramural teams can contact Dr. Kuklick for more information or to register: or 304-293-0851.
17 Feb
Kristen Siers_Mason Dixon elementary team The children enrolled in Americorp’s award-winning Energy Express program are not the only ones who benefit greatly from its unique summer curriculum. Kristen Siers, a senior Sport and Exercise Psychology major at West Virginia University, and mentor for the acclaimed program, says the program inspired and encouraged her to take the next steps in her academic career.

Energy Express, under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program, takes place in more than 80 sites across the state of West Virginia and provides children, particularly in low-income communities, learning opportunities and nutrition to help prevent them from falling behind on reading levels during the summer months off from school.

Siers served as a mentor at Mason-Dixon Elementary school in Monongalia County and worked with a class of eight children in first and second grades on reading, writing and art skills. Interacting closely with these kids, she created lesson plans around their book of the week, each centered on a topic such as friends, family, or making the world a better place.

While there was definitely an emphasis on reading and writing, a big part of the program was also providing nutrition for the children.

“For breakfast and lunch, we would focus on family style meals where we sat together and passed around the meals which instilled a sense of family for our class,” explains Siers.

Siers incorporated fun activities such as art and drama, including a play put on for the parents at the end of the summer.

“Our classroom theme was “barnyard,” so we put on a play that followed the book, Big Red Barn, and it was an absolute hit,” exclaims Siers. “I have never been so happy or proud as I was of my class that night. We practiced that play for several weeks leading up to the open house.”

The children in the Energy Express program were not the only ones largely impacted at the end of the six weeks.

“I am currently applying to graduate school to pursue counseling as a career,” explains Siers. “I have always known that I wanted to go into a helping profession, but it really became clear to me thanks to my experience at Energy Express that I could help people through the field of counseling.”

Recalling her past summer experience with Energy Express, Siers had nothing but fond words for the program.

“This program does so much for the state of West Virginia and the kids throughout local communities. It was an absolute privilege to be able to work with the families and kids,” recalls Siers.

“Seeing them grow over the six weeks was something that helped pushed me towards my career and future, so I am forever grateful for having had the opportunity.”
9 Feb

PETE grad earns national credentials

Hannah | February 9th, 2015
Jennifer Kwiatkowski, physical education and health teacher, recently completed her National Board Certification. The Clay-Batelle High School teacher is now one of fifty-three educators in Monongalia County to hold the National Board Certification Teacher credential.

The NBCT credential is recognized as the highest level of teacher certification. For the CPASS graduate, who earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in physical education teacher education, the process was an outstanding chance to stimulate her teaching skills.

“It was an opportunity to reflect on my teaching and fine tune my skills as an educator,” said Kwiatkowski. “I was encouraged to change my ‘routine’ that teachers tend to fall into, and this change was a positive one.”

Kwiatkowski credits an amazing support system for the completion of her certification. Family and friends were patient and understanding throughout the process, knowing to leave her alone when she was working on the Boards. She tributes her fellow teachers—three from Clay-Battelle and two from Morgantown High— as providing the most significant help to her throughout the process.

“Although we were getting certified in different areas, it was beneficial to have help proof reading, editing, clarify misunderstandings, and emotionally supporting each other throughout the whole process,” Kwiatkowski said. “I never could have done it without my colleagues (friends) who were also being certified.”

The skills Kwiatkowski acquired through the PETE program provided her with a strong base for her National Boards assessment portfolio. “I use these skills daily in order to adjust my teaching to maximize student learning and activity time,” Kwiatkowski said, citing PETE’s wide variety of activity classes, as well as learning classroom modifications and data collection techniques.

In addition to CPASS, Kwiatkowski credits the West Virginia Physical Education Academy as “a huge asset” with earning her certification. The PE Academy provided Kwiatkowski with opportunities to gain continuing education hours, knowledge on incorporating technology in a physical education program, grant writing, and quality mentors, according to Kwiatkowski.

Earning the National Board Certification has already provided Kwiatkowski with new career opportunities. She has received invitations to get involved with committees as well as lead professional development. Kwiatkowski recognizes the achievement as a testament to her professionalism. According to a West Virginia Department of Education press release, certification demonstrates the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare students for success in college and career. Monongalia County ranks as fourth in the state for teachers holding the National Board Certification.

9 Feb
Justin Wood Mylan Park Elementary School is officially ready to kick off the new “Reading and Riding” program. After a successful fundraiser, ten stationary exercise bicycles were secured by the school in early January to promote the addition of core content into the physical education program.

Pictured left, faculty and students learn about stationary bike program from Justin Wood.

The “Reading and Riding” program is an innovative approach to adding movement in the classroom, encouraging the idea of active reading groups. In contrast to sitting at a desk, Mylan Park students will be tracking calories burned, average heart rate, and distance travelled while seeing how many pages they can read.

Deb Tampoya, MPES principal, first learned about the project online and approached Justin Wood about the idea of raising money for the bicycles. Wood, CPASS master’s physical education teacher education student, is a graduate teaching assistant at MPES.

The school kicked off their fundraising efforts on the website Wood created a short yet persuasive blurb describing that children retain more information when physical activity is integrated into core subject areas. Wood explained that the bicycles would help in fighting the obesity rate and low physical activity that has plagued West Virginia for years.

The $2,078 fundraising goal was achieved in just 48 hours. A total of 26 donors made contributions, with many leaving encouraging comments and praise for the PE teachers on the website. Social media was used to reach out to prospective donors.

“I love to see the teachers and administrators at Mylan Park Elementary constantly looking for ways to promote the connection between movement and academics,” said Dr. Emily Jones, PETE assistant professor. “There are so many exciting possibilities that the addition of exercise bikes to the school environment can have on children’s and teachers’ physical activity levels and learning,” Jones added.

The Mylan Park students aren’t the only ones encouraged to be more active; two bikes are located in the faculty lounges as well. Approval from Tampoya and the Fire Marshall awaits for the remaining eight bikes to be placed in the library or the hallways of grades 2-3 and 4-5. The physical education team at Mylan Park is striving to promote more physical activity in school and introduce students to ways they can be more physically active outside of school.

Wood specifically cites Drs. Jones and Sean Bulger’s classes as providing him with the techniques to help improve the PE program. “What we’re doing at Mylan Park is a direct result of information learned from the PETE faculty. Their influence helped me,” Wood said.
4 Feb

In late January the First Tee West Virginia Program kicked off at Kingwood Elementary School introducing young students to the game of the golf. The program was made possible thanks to the efforts of Donetta Browning, Kingwood Elementary physical education teacher. (Photo by the Dominion Post)

Browning initially learned of the First Tee Program two years ago, but the $3,400 needed to launch the program was lacking from the school budget. She contacted Richard Kissinger, First Tee West Virginia program director, and together they were able to obtain a grant to purchase the equipment. Browning then took the next step by earning her certification in the course.

“It’s an exciting program for the young kids to get involved with, and it teaches a lot of different skills that they don’t possibly get in other sports,” said Browning, CPASS master’s Physical Education Teacher Education graduate.

Since the First Tee program was founded in 1997, it has grown to more than nine million young people nationwide. According to the group’s website, the core values of the program include honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

“The First Tee Program is the premiere youth development program in West Virginia,” said Kissinger. “The core values are integrated in a seamless, conversational way. It’s not preachy.”

Not only do students take away these important principles, but they also get the opportunity to learn about a game they might not otherwise be exposed to, Kissinger explained. Students who are not interested in traditional sports like football and basketball have a chance to engage and get excited about PE class.

In addition to golf safety, each week the children focus on one core value and work out its meaning. During the first week, the students focused on respect, clapping whenever the word respect was mentioned.

“What they are doing at Kingwood Elementary is awesome,” said Kissinger, who was able to attend the kick-off day at KES on January 21. “The hope is to expand the First Tee Program statewide and affect as many youth as possible.”

Browning has taught at KES for six years and was named the 2014 West Virginia Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the West Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

According to the First Tee Program website, the project began as a partnership between the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Masters Tournament, Professional Golfers’ Association of America, PGA Tour, and United States Golf Association, with the help of Shell Oil.

30 Jan

Juniors and seniors majoring in sport management are required to study sport governance to learn and discuss a wide array of issues related to the way the sport industry is administered. From community grass roots sports organizations to interscholastic athletics and collegiate to professional sports, students scrutinize how sport is governed throughout the industry.

Students explore the rules and policies that dictate the course of sport organizations, athletes, officials and coaches, while reflecting on how other more complex forces influence the creation of these rules.

Last semester, two guest speakers visited campus to share their expertise and provide perspectives on sport governance issues and to connect the classroom with the industry.

Dan Erenrich_SM speaker

Dan Erenrich, athletic director at Morgantown High School, provided an overview of the regulatory aspects that influence interscholastic sports, particularly in the state of West Virginia. Erenrich, who has held the AD position at Morgantown High since 2002 and serves on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, outlined the multiple responsibilities high school athletic administrators oversee on a day-to-day basis.

Joshua Weishart_SM speaker

Joshua Weishart, J.D., a visiting professor at the WVU College of Law, presented an overview of the case O’Bannon vs. the NCAA. Weishart, who worked directly with U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken (who ruled this case), provided an informed and detailed account of the O’Bannon case while discussing the significance this case will (or could) have on collegiate sports.

26 Jan
Wayda_Hannon_NAKHE award_2 Two College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences faculty members received awards at the 2015 National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education conference.

Drs. James C. Hannon and Valerie Wayda were honored at the annual conference, held January 8-10 in Clearwater, Florida. Hannon and Wayda earned two of the three prestigious awards presented.

NAKHE honors individuals who have dedicated their professional lives to the disciplines of Kinesiology, Physical Education and Higher Education. Hannon was recognized for his achievements in the scholastic realm while Wayda was applauded for her service within NAKHE.

Hannon received the 2015 Distinguished Scholar Award for his significant role in scholarly pursuits in kinesiology and physical education in higher education. Hannon, who serves as professor and assistant dean of academic affairs and research for the college, has maintained a consistently impressive level of academic productivity throughout his career.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to be recognized among the past recipients of the award, many of whom have served as role models for my own career,” Hannon said.

Wayda received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award for her contributions as an outstanding member of NAKHE. Wayda has served in numerous leadership roles since becoming a member of NAKHE in 2000. She has served as vice president of the association, chaired several committees and presented at annual conferences.

“I’m very humbled being selected, given the previous recipients who have received the honor,” Wayda said.

In addition to NAKHE, Wayda has served in leadership roles within Midwest District Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, The National Association of Sport and Physical Education, and the National Council for Accredation of Coaching Education. Wayda’s 2011 article “Is coaching a profession and is coaching education significant?” appeared in the NAKHE publication and leading scholarly journal Quest. Her current research interest focuses on professional dispositions and subjective warrants of pre-professionals entering athletic coaching and physical education teacher education.

Among Hannon’s notable achievements include 86 peer-reviewed manuscripts in-print or in-press, as well as over $3 million generated in grants/contracts. He has been published in numerous distinguished publications such as Journal of Physical Activity & Health, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education and Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Hannon has made over 100 professional presentations since his career began at the University of Utah. The focus of his research is pediatric physical activity and fitness measurement as well as instructional and environmental physical activity interventions in P-12 school and community settings
16 Jan
Dallas-Branch_2 The sport management on-campus graduate program at WVU’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences has been listed as the 11th best sport management program world-wide, and number three in the United States, according to a global ranking and rating agency evaluating masters and MBA programs.

This represents a significant increase from 2013, when the program landed 39th worldwide and 10th within the United States. Eduniversal Best Masters has released results for 2014 in its list of 50 best masters in sports management.

The WVU on-campus sport management master’s degree program has prepared qualified graduate and undergraduate students since 1981. Graduates have made significant contributions in a variety of sport settings including intercollegiate athletics, professional sports, facilities and arenas, event marketing and promotions, and sport law and communications, to name a few.

“In Eduniversal’s 2014-15 national and international rankings of some 4000 business and related master’s programs, our graduate on-campus sport management program received its highest rankings ever—third in the US and 11th worldwide. Everyone associated with the program should be very proud of this recognition, especially our graduates who continue to lead in the sport management industry,” said Dallas Branch, associate professor, CPASS graduate sport management program.

The graduate program places 100 percent of its interns in assignments in the sport industry. “We have consistently placed our graduates in the most significant positions within the sport industry, including the NCAA, NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, NBC Sports, Nike, ESPN and many major sports organizations at the professional and collegiate levels,” Branch explained.

“We have more than 20 graduates employed in the WVU Athletic Department, including the new Athletic Director Shane Lyons, a 1988 graduate.”

The unique curriculum features courses that provide “real-world” training in athletics compliance and sport finance. The program has provided students with marketing research and data-mining consultant experiences with the Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Washington Capitals.

What the improvement on the list is saying about WVU’s program comes as no surprise to those familiar with it, said CPASS Dean Dana Brooks.
“The sport management graduate program is just one of the many well-kept treasures in our college,” Brooks said. “Dallas and the other sport management faculty members have done a fine job making the program one that stands out among its peers, while making an impact in the industry.”

“We have always known about the quality of this program and our graduates. This ranking confirms what we have always known. The unique experiences offered within this program certainly help us attract some of the best and brightest students in the country,” explained Jack Watson, chair and professor, sport sciences department.

13 Jan
Brazil_Spotlight A 2015 summer study abroad trip to Brazil will focus on sport business with an international perspective. Students will depart on May 22 and return on May 30, 2015. The trip is a joint venture with James Madison University and WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. Students will learn about the cultural and educational differences in the sport industry while experiencing first-hand the “Land of Contrasts,” representing the vibrant and rich culture of this country.

Students will tour sport organizations and venues located in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, among these: the RIO 2016 organizing committee, ESPN Brazil, Octagon Brazil, AEG International, the Brazilian Soccer Federation, and Corinthians and Palmeiras football clubs. Students will visit the University of Sao Paulo campus where they will attend lectures on sport in Brazil. Tourist attractions will include Christ the Redeemer Statue at Corcorvado Mountain, Sugar Loaf Mountain, beaches, and the Football Museum in Sao Paulo. To register for the Sport in Brazil study abroad trip visit WVU Abroad. For more details contact