Athletic Coaching Education (ACE)

Athletes aim to maximize their potential both on and off the field. Athletic coaches help guide them on their paths to success. The undergraduate Athletic Coaching Education program at WVU primes students for a variety of roles in the coaching profession. The program equips students to teach, motivate, and properly structure sports environments.

ACE students graduate with key knowledge in philosophy and ethics, safety and injury prevention, physical conditioning, growth and development, teaching and communication, sport skills and tactics, organization, administration, and evaluation. Through guided internship experiences, students in the ACE program have an opportunity to work with a wide range of athletes including youth, masters and individuals with disabilities.

All students are eligible for nationally recognized Coaching Certifications from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) or National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Fundamentals of Coaching, and Red Cross CPR, AED, and First Aid certifications and will have an opportunity to earn other sport and coaching related credentials based on the area of emphasis or minor they choose.

What our alumni have to say:

  • aluminquote-JoshS

    "Just as it is a coach's job, the ACE program and staff put myself and other driven students in a position to be successful by continuing to revolutionize the coaching profession and pioneering the study of leadership."

    Josh S.

    B.S. ACE, 2012
  • Jeff Pierce

    “All of the CPASS faculty helped me out over my four years at WVU,” he said. “Whether it was in the classroom or about my career choice, the faculty gave me advice that I can carry with me throughout life. Clayton Kuklick, CPASS teaching assistant professor, had a major impact as a mentor.”

    Jeff P.

    M.S. ACE, 2015
  •  Ethan Brown

    “I was able to take skill techniques and sport specific instruction that I learned in a classroom project and apply them directly to a successful training program at the high school level.”

    Ethan B.

    B.S. ACE, 2015

What you'll study

The ACE program blends cutting-edge sport sciences knowledge and professional development. Students also gain coaching experience with several sport-specific coaching technique courses in addition to three separate coaching experiences. All ACE students are encouraged to choose a minor in a complementary area. Students also complete WVU general foundation courses (GEF).

Foundational Courses

The pre-ACE courses provide students with basic sport science knowledge for entrance into the ACE Program. These courses establish a grounded understanding of human structure and movement, diversity issues in sport, motor skills, officiating, and foundational principles of coaching. These concepts and principles serve as the foundation for designing and delivering developmentally appropriate sport coaching experiences for individuals of any age and ability. 

Professional Courses

Through multiple in-class and internship experiences, ACE students will leave the program with a wide range of hands-on coaching opportunities. All students complete a six-credit coaching internship with athletes at a developmental level which aligns with their professional goals. As part of the internship, students create a professional portfolio that helps them learn what makes a quality leader, effective teacher and knowledgeable practitioner in the field of athletic coaching.


The ACE coursework will equip students to provide quality leadership and physical training to help individuals and teams on their way to performance excellence. Students in the program gain a fresh perspective on quality, long term talent development. In addition to the internship, students also take applied coaching methods courses. These courses are specifically geared to help ACE students learn how to coach youth and disabled athletes.

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

  • Guy Hornsby

    Guy Hornsby

    Professional Highlights

    • Professional experience as a strength and conditioning coach at the D-1 Collegiate level and within U.S. Special Operations
    • Head coach of West Virginia Weightlifting, a USAW registered club and WVU sport club
    • Coordinates Monongalia County High School strength and conditioning graduate assistant program
    • Involved in sport science/athlete monitoring efforts through collaboration with WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
    • Oversees ACE strength and conditioning minor
  • Kristen Dieffenbach

    Kristen Dieffenbach

    Professional Highlights

    • United States Center for Coaching Excellence (USCCE) - President
    • International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) - Research Committee
    • Research emphasis on coach development, professionalization of coaching and moral reasoning in coaching
    • Written and managed grants and contracts with USOC, USA Cycling, USA Hockey, USADA and other sport organizations
    • More than 20 years professional coaching experience with athletes from youth through Olympic level, specializing in long term athlete development
  • Valerie Wayda

    Valerie Wayda

    Professional Highlights

    • National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education Distinguished Service Award (2015)
    • Fellow, North American Society (NAS) of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals
    • Vice-President, National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education (2011-2012)
  • Portrait of Jeremy Yeats

    Jeremy Yeats

    Professional Highlights

    • Six years of experience as an assistant professor
    • Two years of experience as a graduate coordinator for an online M.A. program
    • Several active lines of inquiry
Beyond The Classroom

Field Experiences and Research

As part of the program students participate in variety of hands on coaching opportunities. This allows our students to be exposed to athletes across different developmental levels. There are also opportunities to participate in research initiatives directed by faculty in the Center for Applied Coaching and Sport Sciences.

Hands on coaching opportunities

  • Coaching experience with athletes with disabled sport, Special Olympic, Para-Olympic athletes and working with master’s level athletes
  • Coaching experience with athletes in youth sport (middle school age or younger) within the surrounding communities
  • Coaching experience with athletes at a sport level and type that meets your professional goals

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

  • The Center for Applied Coaching and Sport Sciences
  • Faculty driven research projects
  • Paid undergraduate apprenticeships
Career Preparation

After Graduation

Commonly sought research focuses among alumni

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise science
  • Strength training
  • Coaching education

Example employers and job titles of graduates

  • Nadine D., USOC coaching education division intern , Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Zach G., Co-Founded, works with former WVU athletes to promote a new energy drink
  • Josh N., Doctoral student, assistant director of applied performance and operations, Baylor University, Texas
  • Joseph R., Averett University linebacker coach , physical conditioning teacher, Danville, Virginia
  • Kacey Lynn D. Ph.D.,  Assistant professor, Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina
  • John S., Director of Operations, Men’s Lacrosse, Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
How To Apply

The Admission Process

How to apply

  • Apply to WVU: WVU Admissions Application
  • On your WVU Admissions materials indicate Athletic Coaching Education (ACE) as your major of interest.

Prerequisites and requirements


Beginning in Fall 2018, students are directly admitted in to the Athletic Coaching Education program as long as they meet the University admission requirements (

If students were admitted prior to Fall 2018, they must meet the additional program admission information listed below.

  • 25 or higher on the American College Testing (ACT) program prior to November 1989 
  • 26 or higher on the enhanced ACT beginning November 1989
  • 1035 or higher on the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) prior to April 1995
  • 1125 or higher on the re-centered SAT beginning April 1995
  • 1170 or higher on the SAT combined Critical Reading and Math beginning March 2005.;
Please contact your academic advisor for more information.


  • Overall GPA 2.5 or higher
  • A grade of C or higher must be earned in all probationary ACE courses (or currently enrolled in the class at time of admission): ATTR 121, ACE 106, ACE 168, ACE 256, ACE 265, PET 124, PET 125, PET 175, PET 244 and three Teaching Games for Understanding courses
  • Proof of current Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED certification
  • Proof of NFHS Coaching Fundamentals and NFHS Sport First Aid certification or WVSSAC Coaching Certification
  • Completed 30 hours of GEF including ENGL 101, HN&F 171, UNIV 101 and SEP 272

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline: February 15 for spring admission, September 15 for fall admission.

Students not granted admission may reapply the following semester with the same procedure in effect.

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Lindsay Augstine Portrait
Lindsay Augustine
Student Services Specialist
Valerie Wayda
Valerie Wayda
Associate Professor