Adams State Sports Psychology Program proud of first graduate

(05-14-2009)

The mental game is just as important to athletes as muscle tone and technique. The Adams State College psychology and human performance and physical education departments recognized the growing demand for trained sports psychologist and in 2005 developed the Sport Psychology Program. Venessa Pettis was the first graduate of the program, completing her degree in December 2008.

A 2005 graduate of Mesa Ridge High School, Colorado Springs, Colo., Pettis said the Adams State Sport Psychology Program is the only one offered in the state, and one of few in the nation. "I decided to apply after visiting a friend and going to a lecture with her and found it intriguing."

According to Dr. Stephen Weiss, associate professor of psychology, the Sport Psychology Program is an interdisciplinary program combining the separate fields of Human Performance and Physical Education and Psychology. "Venessa was very dedicated to the sport psychology program. An energetic and self-motivated person, she excelled in the sport psychology curriculum."

Besides teaching the courses, Pettis said the professors took the time to meet with her personally and she still emails Dr. Brent King, assistant professor of psychology, for advice. She also worked with the football team. Human Performance and Physical Education Associate Professor Dr. Tracey Robinson and Martin Heaton, head football coach, mentored her through the process.

The sport psychology major provides students opportunities to utilize sport psychological skills including motivational techniques, psychological skills training, and personality testing of athletes. Additionally, students are actively involved in a variety of educational and field experiences, for instance, a sport psychology practicum, as they learn to engage in reflective decision-making, athletic leadership, effective communication with coaches and athletes, and ethical behavior.

According to Weiss, an advantage of the program is the sport psychology practicum offers students opportunities to work with various teams both on campus and in the community. He said these internships afford students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom and also opportunities to apply learned exercise psychology skills in sport/athletic and exercise/fitness settings. "Whether it is assisting with applied sport psychology experiments, working in the human performance laboratory, or teaching athletes techniques, our students gain valuable knowledge which will help them gain acceptance into graduate programs in sport psychology or related fields and ultimately in helping them to reach their career goals."

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By Linda Relyea