Tag: Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

And now … Sport Management grad students sell Chicago Bulls ticket packages for class project

Katie Reifurth

Katie Reifurth

Students in an NIU College of Education graduate class in Sport Management are asking an unusual question this semester.

Wanna buy some Bulls tickets?

The class, LESM 551, teaches the practice, strategies and art of ticket sales in the sports industry.

And if part of sales is who you know, or the ability to convince hesitant buyers to say “yes,” then Katie Reifurth is the perfect instructor. Her fiancé, Anthony Horton, works for the Chicago Bulls.

“I said, ‘I’m teaching a ticket sales class. Would there be any potential to have us partner with your sales department?’ ” says Reifurth, an instructor in NIU’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

“He was skeptical at first because the Bulls have never partnered with a college program before,” she adds. “I tried to sell him on the idea that I could give him the opportunity to feel out potential future employees, to get to know the caliber of our students and how they sell.”

Horton, who manages Inside Sales for the Bulls, soon liked what he heard. He then pitched the concept to his boss, but initially was met with similar reluctance.

Undeterred, he also forged ahead in making the case that giving students hands-on experience in selling for a powerful brand would allow the Bulls to continuously find and hire local talent.

Swish!

The Bulls have created two unique ticket packages for Reifurth’s students. One includes a Celtics game in December and a Cavaliers game in March; the other includes a Knicks game in December and a Clippers game in March.

Packages are perfect for individuals, friends, date nights or group outings, Reifurth says.

bulls-logo“I pushed to get one of the games in each package to be a high-profile game and have at least one game on a weekend so the students would have a better chance to sell the tickets,” she says. “If people buy from our students, they get a deep discount they couldn’t get on the secondary market.”

She began the class project by allowing students to sell the tickets in any way they wanted, which could include to their personal contacts on social media.

“We know as salespeople, and through the class, that this is very ineffective,” she says, “but it gives the students some hands-on experience with a little bit of failure. They need to be actively selling and using their skills as a seller. They learn to fail, and then they learn to succeed through sales tactics they’re learning in the class.”

Chicago Bulls ticket packages provide an additional lesson, she adds.

“I want my students to understand that selling really does take skills, even selling for a large and popular brand like the Chicago Bulls,” Reifurth says. “I hope they will have a new appreciation for sales, not just how difficult it is but also that it’s not something that comes naturally. People who are in it have to work hard.”

Final sales reports are due Dec. 4.

“They’ll make a presentation, just to me, summarizing all of the things they did in the project, telling me about the sales tactics they used, the number of tickets they sold and what they learned,” she says.

Sales managers at the Bulls “will get a write-up more on the basics of the numbers so they will know what contribution was made by whom and through which package,” she adds. “They will know who has the talent to possibly move into this industry.”

Reifurth, who is new to NIU this semester, is currently completing the dissertation phase of her Ph.D. in Sport and Entertainment Management from the University of South Carolina.

basketballA former intern for the San Antonio Spurs, she moved to Chicago to join Horton – and smartly placed a call to NIU in search of work as an instructor.

When she completes her Ph.D. in 2018, she hopes to continue teaching in higher education while keeping her professional contacts current and vibrant through consulting, an endeavor that will benefit her students.

“More schools and more programs need to focus on selling because that’s where most of the entry-level positions are in sports. It’s better to know the basics than going into these jobs not knowing anything,” Reifurth says.

NIU students have impressed her, partly because her previous experience has taught her that “a sales class is not something a lot of people want to do. It’s just a class they have to take.”

“The NIU students are very engaged, and I’m happy to see that. They’re very open to the possibility of working in sales, and they see the value in that right off the bat,” she says. “They’re also very excited about this project, which I’m excited about. Having passion for what you’re selling just makes it that much easier to do it.”



NIU Athletic Training students practice at Chicago Marathon

marathon-1When runners finally cross the finish line and enter “the chute” at the end of the annual Chicago Marathon, their races aren’t quite over.

Chances are good that they might need medical assistance.

“Your body responds in a variety of ways after you run 26.2 miles,” says Kelly Potteiger, associate professor of Athletic Training in the NIU Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

One of the most common reasons for needing medical attention after the race is postural hypotension.

After so much high-level activity over a long period of time, Potteiger says, blood vessels dilate to supply ample amounts of energy to muscles. When those muscles suddenly stop, it can cause a runner’s blood pressure to crash. And, when this happens, runners can become dizzy and even lose consciousness.

Other reasons runners might collapse include their bodies shutting down from the heat; stress on their hearts; a lack of preparation; or other complications.

Triage is necessary along the quarter-mile passageway to swiftly gauge the current fitness and needs of all 45,000 runners – upright or not – to make sure these mostly amateur athletes are in possession of their mental and physical condition.

Kelly Potteiger

Kelly Potteiger

Enter “the sweep team,” which on this Sunday included several students from NIU’s Athletic Trainers Student Association.

“We help to escort people who are in trouble through the chute and assess their capabilities,” Potteiger says. “If they’re losing cognitive function, or no longer have the ability to support themselves, we have to make a decision. Do we need to call a crash team? Can we get them to the medical tent? Or can they exit the chute on their own?”

Potteiger joined the 13 students in what has become an every-October excursion to Balbo Drive and Columbus Avenue near Grant Park. Their bus left the NIU campus at 4 a.m.

“It’s a great learning experience for our students to see how the medical response for a large event is organized,” Potteiger says. “That’s part of what athletic training is. If we’re working a football game, and a football player goes down, the athletic trainers run out there to do a quick evaluation and determine how we can safely get this player off the field to the sidelines for further evaluation.”

Students prepared by watching a training video and through mock simulations in the classroom.

The first-year students who made the trip were excited, if not a little nervous. “They practiced taking a history. They gained an understanding of how to take vitals and assess cognitive awareness,” she says. “It brings to light the different steps, and they take it more seriously when they know that they’re going to need to do all of this.”

Some of the students were Chicago Marathon veterans.

Corina Salinas, an athletic training major who volunteered for the first time in 2016, worked on a triage team. She and five others – one EMT, one nurse, two certified athletic trainers and another student – were on call when spotters situated in towers overlooking the course saw runners go down.

Corina Salinas

Corina Salinas

“They didn’t need to be walked or stretched. They needed immediate attention,” Salinas says. “We went to evaluate. It was either, one, that they were fine and just needed to rest, or two, they needed intervention.”

Although “nothing catastrophic” happened Sunday, the autumn warmth did cause heat exhaustion and fainting in some runners. Salinas and her teammates quickly grabbed ice bags and cold towels to place directly on main arteries “to cool them down from the inside out.”

She enjoyed her 2017 trip more than the one that preceded it. “This year, I was more mentally prepared, and I felt more comfortable doing what I did,” she says. “I feel like I got more hands-on experience practicing the clinical skills that I’m learning at NIU.”

However, Salinas calls herself grateful for both years of experience.

Multitasking and collaboration provided good lessons in what is expected and required of athletic trainers, she says, whether they’re working with sports teams or with NASA. She also appreciated the glimpse at how the triage team worked together – and how the others relied on the athletic trainers for their specialized expertise.

“I really like putting myself in various stressful situations and seeing how I react to them, if I’m able to keep my calm but still experience the rush of caring for a stressful medical situation,” Salinas says. “I have to act and react, and I have to do it effectively and efficiently. It makes me feel good knowing that I can.”

During the in-class debriefing Monday, the students scrutinized Sunday’s activities and discussed how they can apply those experiences to future clinical experiences, both as a student, and eventually as a professional, athletic trainer.

marathon-2

Many will find jobs at high schools and colleges, where they will need to prepare for events such as cross country or track meets with only a few gallons of drinking water and one aid station. Working the marathon exposed them to grand-scale productions, however.

“It’s mindboggling to see the different resources behind the scenes, and our students get to see that,” Potteiger says. “Did you know that they run a 911 system out of a trailer at the marathon? It’s hooked right into 911! It’s really impressive.”

Sunday also offered a test in terms of endurance. Chicago Marathon runners in need of help come “in waves,” Potteiger says.

A majority of early finishers are “the pros” who know exactly how to prepare for, and run, marathons. Members of the triage team typically have little to do.

Many runners in the next wave, however, are pushing their bodies past their limits to notch good times – and the chute quickly gets busy for medical providers. The third phase brings those runners who have trained well, she says, and the medical traffic slows.

As the event nears its end, those who have been running for several hours begin to trickle in and tend to fill the medical tents.

marathon-3Weather also plays a role in the medical response.

Potteiger was there in 2007, when the oppressive, 88-degree heat forced organizers to shut down the marathon in progress. She was there in 2006 – just the year before – when the cold and icy conditions caused one runner to slip and hit his head hard on the pavement.

She was also there in 2011 when a pregnant runner went into labor.

“You interact with so many patients throughout the day that you get really good and really fast at being able to tell who’s in danger and who’s going to be fine. You have people all along that spectrum,” she says.

“Our students can spend 10 minutes with someone. They could spend 30 minutes. It could be as short as five minutes. It’s as long as it takes,” she adds. “The year we had to shut it down, we had students sitting outside the medical tent just making conversation with runners to keep an eye on them and make sure they were lucid. Our students become very vested in their patients as they spend more time with them. They want to know that they’re OK, and they want to see them reunited with their families.”



Athletics shares Jacoby Trophy during Anderson Hall ‘tour stop’

Mary Bell and Lou Jean Moyer

Mary Bell and Lou Jean Moyer

When Mary Bell came to NIU in 1957, she was told to spend 75 percent of her time teaching Physical Education and the rest leading intramurals and intercollegiate sports for women.

“Pretty soon, they took intramurals off,” Bell says. “I was excited about that. The intercollegiate role was what I was really interested in.”

Considered “the founding mother” of NIU women’s athletics, Bell soon accepted an offer to escort some female Huskie students to Illinois State University to play basketball against two other schools.

The schedule was standard for such “Sports Day” events then – one game in the morning, one game in the afternoon and lunch with the other teams and coaches in between.

Game rules in that era prohibited snatching the ball from another player’s hands, more than three dribbles and crossing the center-court line; women were expected, Bell says, to preserve their bodies for childbirth.

It all might seem archaic now, but coming 15 years before federal Title IX legislation, it was a good start.

“Back then, we didn’t have practices. We didn’t have uniforms. You just waited until another school invited you,” Bell says. “But I told the girls, ‘If you go with me, you have to practice at least once.’ ”

Laurie Elish-Piper

Laurie Elish-Piper

Sixty years later, Bell happily applauded with several of her fellow retirees and successors from the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) during a Sept. 27 celebration of the Jacoby Trophy.

Awarded to the top women’s athletic program in the Mid-American Conference, the Jacoby came this year to the Huskies for the first time in program history. NIU, which competes in 10 women’s sports, saw nine of those programs finish in the top half of the MAC during either regular season or tournament play.

NIU Athletic Director Sean Frazier and Chief of Staff Debra Boughton brought the trophy to Anderson Hall for the latest stop of its victory “tour.”

Visiting the College of Education with the Jacoby “just makes sense,” says Frazier, who holds two graduate degrees in education-related disciplines and is co-teaching a KNPE course this semester.

The NIU College of Education prepares and graduates leaders in the field – many Huskie student-athletes among them – who go on to create and maintain vital academic experiences, he adds.

“For us, it’s just a natural fit. It just works,” Frazier says. “It gives me a great sense of pride that Athletics is contributing to the college’s mission.”

Laurie Elish-Piper, dean of the NIU College of Education, is equally as grateful for the association.

“We’re very proud of our women student-athletes,” Elish-Piper says, “and this ceremony is a wonderful way to honor their hard work while acknowledging our longstanding relationship with Intercollegiate Athletics.”

Boughton, who is also NIU’s senior associate athletics director for Finance and Operations and senior woman administrator, told the room full of coaches, faculty and annuitants that she had carefully tracked the university’s progress toward the Jacoby win.

Chad McEvoy and Debra Boughton

Chad McEvoy and Debra Boughton

Near the end of the school year, with final results from softball and women’s track and field still pending, victory was in view – and a friendly trip to pump up the coaches was in order.

“I said, ‘We’re super, super close here. I need you not to screw this up,’ ” Boughton told the audience with a laugh, adding that NIU “is a great place to be right now, and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Lou Jean Moyer, who taught Physical Education at NIU from 1962 to 1992, would agree.

Moyer, the first head coach in the history of NIU Volleyball, led the Huskies to a 75-43 record in five seasons from 1970 to 74, including 26 wins during the 1973 season.

She also served in a number of leadership roles in the growth of women’s collegiate athletics, including as president of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports and as Ethics and Eligibility chair on the Association of Intercollege Athletics for Women.

“When I was here, women’s sports were very limited,” Moyer says. “It’s wonderful to see how the opportunities for young women, not only in high school and college but also in the pros, allow them to test their limits. I never had that opportunity. I would much rather have been outside playing sports and having a good time than sitting inside.”

Moyer and Bell, who also coached field hockey, basketball, badminton, volleyball, swimming, and softball at NIU between 1957 and 1976, appreciate the modern landscape better than many.

Paige Dacanay was a member of the 2016 NIU women’s volleyball team.

Paige Dacanay was a member of the 2016 NIU women’s volleyball team.

Before Title IX became law, Moyer says, “the two of us were fighting” for equality in sports.

They received an updated look at the law – Title IX is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year – just before the Sept. 27 ceremony by attending the LESM 341: Administration of Intercollegiate Athletics class co-taught by Frazier and Chad McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

Guest lecturer Boughton described Title IX’s complicated parameters to remain in compliance, a task measured in accommodations of interests and abilities; athletic financial aid; and “other athletic benefits and opportunities” that include equipment, supplies, locker rooms, schedules and more.

“What I appreciate the most, which comes after many decades, is that women have an opportunity to practice, to learn and to get to be good,” says Bell, for whom the NIU softball field is named. “It’s not just to play around. It’s about improving your skills.”

Other alums, annuitants and special guests joining the class and the Jacoby Trophy presentation were Dee Abrahamson, Linda Conrad, Ruth Heal, Tony and Carolyn Kambich, Donna Martin. Judy Sisler, Sally Stevens and Nadine Zimmerman.



KNPE helps student-athletes prepare for mentoring positions at District 428’s Clinton Rosette

Paul Wright

Paul Wright

Ask an athlete to talk about a coach, Paul Wright says, and the stories will flow naturally.

Expect the anecdotes to overflow with loving examples of the positive and lasting effects of an additional, caring adult in a young person’s life. Their appreciation is genuine – and touching.

Consequently, athletes make good mentors.

“If they’ve been playing sports for a long time, they’ve developed a love for it and they have a passion for it,” says Wright, NIU’s EC Lane and MN Zimmerman Endowed Professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education.

“That also means they’ve had coaches or parents who’ve focused on them, developed them as individuals, supported them, picked them up when they were down,” Wright adds. “Relationships like that are at the heart of mentoring. It’s really an easy connection to make – or a slam dunk, to use a sports analogy.”

NIU’s world-class student-athletes are no exception, of course.

Several volunteer each year to mentor students at DeKalb’s Clinton Rosette Middle School through The Huskie Experience program of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Student-Athlete Academic Support Services.

“Our mission is to develop our student-athletes personally and professionally while engaging in the community and the campus community,” says Rachel Steward, an academic coordinator with SAASS. “I see a lot of tangible skills that our athletes are building. Time management is huge. Patience is a big one. Ultimately, though, I think they like the satisfaction of knowing that they’re making an impact on that next generation that really aspires to be like them.”

crms-signRobin Enders, a counselor at Clinton Rosette and the liaison between the school at NIU, says that her sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders receive wisdom and assistance on homework, arriving on time to class, locker organization, how to approach teachers with questions, the value of higher education and more.

Mentees are chosen through recommendations from parents or teacher, Enders says; sometimes the students ask on their own if they’ve had mentors before or see friends with mentors. If she sees that the Huskie athletes are early in their education, she pairs them with younger children to extend the length of the relationship.

“It’s become a part of the fabric of our school,” Enders says.

“Parents appreciate the opportunity to have another caring adult in their children’s lives,” she adds. “For the NIU student-athletes – and I’ve served as references for them – it’s also been very beneficial. They see that what you put into something is what you get out of it.”

Wright saw another opportunity.

He enjoys a long relationship with Clinton Rosette, where he ran an after-school program focused on youth development and social change through sport. He also frequently connects with staff at Huskie Athletics, who appreciate his 20-year scholarly focus on youth development and social change through sport.

“The Huskie Experience is a great concept; it serves the mission of Athletics to develop their athletes and their social responsibility, and there’s an obvious benefit to the Clinton Rosette kids,” Wright says.

huskie-flag“But Athletics didn’t have a structured approach on the philosophy of mentoring or the best practices to share with their athletes. This is where I was able to offer my support,” he adds. “I talked with Melissa Dawson, the director of SAASS, and she was open to it. She said, ‘We would love to get your insights and recommendations. We built this thing, but how do we improve it?’ ”

Wright created an orientation program to prepare the athletes in “what mentoring is; the do’s and don’ts; the youth development; how to build relationships with kids.” His third annual presentation took place Sept. 11 at Anderson Hall, home of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

Meanwhile, the professor hopes to evaluate the program through data collection and analysis. He encourages graduate students in his KNPE 596: Sport-based Youth Development course to assess the Clinton Rosette program for their class projects, independent studies or theses.

His students attended and observed the Sept. 11 orientation for a close-up look at how mentoring promotes the development of middle-schoolers and college students alike as well as for how to grow and improve such programs.

“It’s an all-around win,” Wright says. “Collaboration creates opportunities.”

Steward and Enders agree.

“NIU is obviously a main focus in the DeKalb community, and I believe that the more we can engage with the community is a benefit for both sides,” Steward says.

“Our student-athletes continually work with youth through camps, clinics and those type of experiences, and they yearn to get more of that on a consistent basis during the school year,” she adds. “For others, it’s leaving their mark on the DeKalb community. When they spend four or five years here, DeKalb is giving a lot to them, and they want to give back.”

Rachel Steward

Rachel Steward

Middle school students offer a perfect avenue: When the Huskies encounter adolescents who “might be hard to get to know,” Steward says, the athletes “keep pulling back the layers” until they uncover something that yields the reward of a breakthrough moment.

“For us, it might be the smallest thing, but for that kid to open up in that way is huge,” she says. “Just to see the relationships evolve over the years is pretty remarkable. Middle-schoolers might not necessarily say that they really enjoy the time they have with their mentors, but secretly on the inside, they do – and the more our student-athletes see that, the better.”

Staff at Clinton Rosette, meanwhile, love to see the smiles on children blessed with mentors.

“It’s just another positive person, like an older brother or sister, someone who reinforces the message of how important school is,” Enders says.

“Whenever I talk to them, they’re usually very excited,” she adds. “They’ll say if they did an art project with their mentor, or if they played a game of basketball. They’ll say, ‘Look what we did!’ and ‘We had so much fun – when’s my mentor coming again?’ It’s really a fun thing to see the kids get so excited.”



College of Ed alumna shares KNPE instructional philosophies with P.E. teachers in Chicago

Yara Santillan

Yara Santillan

Yara Santillan traded her sneakers for high heels, her gym for a cubicle and her whistle for a smartphone.

What the new coordinator of Physical Education for the Chicago Public Schools hasn’t given up is her drive and ambition to make a positive difference for children through sport.

“I look at my own personal experience,” says Santillan, a two-time alumna of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “I’ve always noticed that, in the times when I’ve really needed something, sport has always been there. It’s always been there for me. Sport kept me out of trouble.”

Growing up in suburban Aurora during the 1990s – she was born in Mexico but moved with her family to Kane County at the age of 18 months – Santillan glimpsed the danger lurking on the streets but wisely chose kickball and basketball over “the wrong crowd.”

Her decision to stay on the straight path, along with her K-12 academic success, resulted in a scholarship to attend NIU. Without a clear career path in mind, however, Santillan couldn’t find her footing in DeKalb and soon left for home.

One year later, she returned as a commuter student, earning straight A’s. Her unease lingered, however, and she became “a two-time college dropout.”

“I knew that college was important, and I was trying to get myself through school,” she says, “but I hadn’t found something I was truly passionate about. I was out of school for the next seven years.”

During that time, she worked at a restaurant. In 2009, she donned the Huskie red-and-black again – and the third time was, of course, the charm.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, she secured a position as a graduate assistant and began work toward her master’s in Exercise Physiology.

cps-logoSantillan crossed the NIU Graduate School commencement stage on a Friday evening in May of 2014. Less than 72 hours later, on a Monday, she sat for an interview with the Chicago Public Schools. Hired on the spot, she began work immediately to complete the school year for a P.E. teacher who’d taken a leave of absence.

By the end of her temporary gig in June, a full-time position with CPS was hers.

“What I love the most is getting kids to set goals. When we work on a skill, a lot of kids think immediately that they can’t do it, or they try not to do it, but then they get very excited when they see they can do something,” Santillan says. “And when they do that in P.E., they’re going to be able to transfer that and do it another part of their life.”

Part of that philosophy – life lessons through P.E. – is a gospel evangelized by Paul Wright, NIU’s EC Lane and MN Zimmerman Endowed Professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education.

“When I supervised Yara’s secondary clinical placements for the P.E. licensure program, I found out she decided to teach because she had a deep belief in the potential of physical education and sport to have a positive influence on children,” Wright says. “In particular, she said she had a passion for reaching children and youth who might be struggling due to circumstances in their lives and their communities.”

Following the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model on which Wright focuses his scholarship, Santillan worked alongside her professor for several semesters in an after-school program for “at-risk” youth in a DeKalb middle school.

Her hands-on learning included promoting responsibility and tailoring programs to youth with more social and emotional challenges

Paul M. Wright

Paul Wright

“This approach really fit her existing values and commitments, but gave her some new strategies, structures and concepts to integrate into her teaching. She went on to apply these ideas, while making them her own, in her very successful career in CPS,” Wright says. “She is proof that the best theories and ideas are ones that can be put into practice.”

In her new role with CPS – leaving the gym “was one of my most difficult decisions but worth it,” she says – Santillan works with all of the district’s P.E. teachers to boost their productivity and, by extension, enhance student outcomes.

Serving as a “cultural mentor,” she ensures that the teachers are following standards, writing and implementing lesson plans, practicing concepts of Social and Emotional Learning and conducting assessment.

Meanwhile, she stresses to her teachers that P.E. is “not just inside the four walls of school” but also something that can empower students, parents and siblings through newsletters, after-school programs and family nights.

“Overall, I’ve had really positive response from the teachers,” Santillan says. “I tell them, ‘I know what you’re doing is important and meaningful, and I’m with you.’ They know I genuinely care about what they’re doing – that I care about their success, the kids’ success and that P.E. is one of the most important content areas in school.”

For her own role in extending P.E. beyond the school grounds, Santillan has volunteered with Beyond the Ball, “an organization that uses the power of sport to change lives, give hope, reclaim space and develop a culture of opportunities for youth and families in Chicago.”

She plans a 2020 run for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly. She also is contemplating a return to college for a doctorate and perhaps a career teaching in higher education.

Yara Santillan

Yara Santillan

At this point, however, her future is in the Windy City.

“I’m increasing teacher effectiveness in the City of Chicago, and I see myself doing that for quite some time,” she says. “I still have the same passion, but instead of teaching 600 students in my school, I have the opportunity to reach 381,000 students in CPS.”

Wright applauds her commitment, calling its beneficiaries fortunate. That group soon will include current students in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education after Santillan returns Monday, Oct. 9, as a guest speaker.

“The students she has worked with in the schools, our current students at NIU and P.E. teachers throughout Chicago are lucky to have Yara as a champion and a role model for doing what you believe is important and right, for yourself – and for others,” he says. “It’s been my pleasure to work with her and follow her success.”



McEvoy, Frazier set to co-teach KNPE course in college athletics

trackOne is the chair of his academic department, a respected professional in his field and an active consultant to the industry.

The other is the tremendously successful director of Intercollegiate Athletics at a Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision university that has scored several conference championships in recent years.

Both are co-teaching a course this fall in the College of Education, providing students with a real-world, from-the-trenches, theory-meets-practice view of the business side of college athletics – and what these two have lived could fill more than any textbook.

Sean T. Frazier, associate vice president and director of NIU Intercollegiate Athletics, and Chad McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, will team up to teach LESM 341: Administration of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“How many students can say that they have had a leading industry practitioner and a leading scholar involved in teaching their class?” says McEvoy, who previously worked in the “front offices” for the Iowa State Cyclones and the Western Michigan Broncos.

“I’m excited about that kind of dynamic classroom environment. I’ve wanted to carve out some time from my schedule to contribute to our teaching mission, and I have some background in college athletics,” he adds. “I reached out to Sean because I thought it would be an interesting way to deliver this class. We can rely on his wealth of experience and expertise.”

Sean T. Frazier

Sean T. Frazier

Frazier was game.

“This is a course,” Frazier says, “that fits right up the alley for potential sports administrators, and especially those individuals who want to know more about the collegiate side of things, from the standpoint of a practitioner who runs a FBS-Division I program. We have one of those programs here – and it makes sense that myself, our coaches and our student-athletes help out.”

Introduced last semester, the LESM 341 course introduces students to contemporary and important issues in intercollegiate athletics.

Among them: philosophies of athletics, the place of athletics in the educational curriculum, the relationship between men’s and women’s programs, budgeting, facilities, equipment, personnel, event operations management, fundraising, public relations, governance, compliance as well as other legal matters.

Guest speakers, including many of Frazier’s senior staff, department heads and coaches, and tours of athletics facilities pump up the syllabus.

“Students are really going to get the best of understanding the theory and research as well as the cutting-edge, industry best practices,” McEvoy says. “We have 20 students, a fairly small group that will promote lots of discussion and good engagement.”

Frazier expects those classroom conversations will include plenty of questions, from how he negotiates coaching contacts and multimedia rights to how he got his start and what he would count as his greatest moment.

Chad McEvoy

Chad McEvoy

NIU’s A.D. has taught before – courses in higher education leadership, policy and analysis, sometimes with a sport management component – during his stops at the University of Maine, the University of Wisconsin and Merrimack College.

He now finds himself eager to return to that vocation, even if for just one hour a week.

“When Chad brought this to me, it was something of a no-brainer for me. To sit in a classroom and facilitate a conversation about topics students are reading about is a passion of mine,” Frazier says.

Calling himself “not an old, but a seasoned administrator,” he believes the KNPE class will offer an exclusive peek inside college athletics operations: “This is what it took to get to Game Day, this is how it continues to evolve during Game Day, and this is what happens after Game Day.”

Some students might realize their career paths lies elsewhere, he adds, but others are equally as likely to grow even hungrier to follow his footsteps. Frazier knows he would have had he been provided a similar opportunity during his undergraduate days at the University of Alabama.

“Had I someone who was a sitting A.D. at any level come in and say, ‘You could do this. This could be an opportunity for you,’ I probably would’ve gotten into this earlier rather than stumbling backward into it,” says Frazier, who worked in health care and earned a master’s degree in social work to help people with substance abuse issues or developmental disabilities.

victor-e-huskieMcEvoy and Frazier are eager themselves to become students – of each other.

“I’m looking forward to understanding more about how Sean leads NIU Athletics,” McEvoy says, “and how some of the things we would pull out of a textbook, out of research or out of industry publications actually impacts NIU and other athletics departments on a daily basis.”

“Chad is a fascinating guy. I’ve learned a lot from him during our interactions,” Frazier adds. “I want to see how he articulates, communicates and runs a classroom of young people. In the future, that’s going to be something I want to pursue more. Sitting in the chair as A.D. is a passion but probably not a lifelong thing. I want to impart knowledge to the next generation.”



Fitness programs merge, improve access to wellness

Student Recreation Center

Student Recreation Center

Staying healthy is getting easier – and more affordable – at NIU.

After more than three decades of providing independent programs and services in separate and shared facilities, the College of Education’s FIT Program and University Recreation and Wellness (formerly Campus Recreation) have merged to become FitWell.

Memberships are available now at go.niu.edu/FitWell.

The move capitalizes on synergies and expertise from both departments by combining resources, boosting efficiency, streamlining membership processes and reducing confusion caused by two programs.

It also creates engaged learning experiences for students in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, thanks to the University Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) staff who are eager to serve as mentors.

“We hope that we empower and inspire people to pursue a healthy lifestyle,” RecWell Director Sandi Carlisle said. “Our primary reason for merging is to create a unified message to the campus and local community that active participation in health and wellness activities should be a life priority.”

Faculty, staff and community members who join FitWell will enjoy accessible, convenient and versatile offerings and amenities that help create and maintain healthy and happy lifestyles.

Workout facilities include the Student Recreation Center, the Chick Evans Field House, the Outdoor Rec Sports Complex, Anderson Hall Fitness Room and Pool, the Gabel Hall Fitness Room, the New Residence Hall Fitness Room and the Gilbert Hall Fitness Room.

Sandi Carlisle

Sandi Carlisle

They also will benefit from a highly economical membership fee – with a payroll deduction option – that is less expensive than those charged by other universities or private fitness clubs.

“Although our primary focus is on students, we also serve faculty, staff and community members,” Carlisle said. “We really have not concentrated on these members’ needs enough.”

Chad McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, calls Carlisle’s partnership proposal “a great opportunity for a cross-campus collaboration.”

“Many of our faculty and staff are dealing with challenging financial situations, so we set FitWell prices at a very competitive and affordable level,” McEvoy said. “FitWell represents a way for faculty, staff and community members to improve their fitness and wellness, and to gain the advantage of the programming and facilities have offered separately for one low price.”

The FIT program long has provided outstanding and convenient exercise opportunities along with scientifically based health and fitness education.

FIT also serves the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education through educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students; that mission will remain intact and expand, McEvoy said. Director Vicky Books will continue to teach in the department while she stays involved with the operation and logistics of FitWell.

NIU students should not experience a negative impact from faculty, staff and community thanks to FitWell’s expanded number of sites and hours of operations, Carlisle said.

Anderson Hall pool

Anderson Hall pool

“During morning and afternoons, it is not that busy, and we have space for all members to use our facilities. We will monitor use of programs and services, and will respond to any issues that may arise,” she said.

“We typically are not incurring any additional costs by offering these memberships to faculty, staff and the community. As we generate additional revenue through memberships, our hope is to reduce user fees that students pay when they participate in a variety of RecWell programs.”

Campus Recreation members will enjoy the same benefits as before, including a free equipment orientation, a free personal training orientation, a free nutrition consultation and access to group fitness classes.

Meanwhile, the merger provides all members (including students) with access to locker and towel service, as available, without an additional fee.



Paul Wright begins second term of KNPE endowed professorship

Paul Wright

Paul Wright

When Paul Wright first acquired the title of EC Lane and MN Zimmerman Endowed Professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Publish research. Secure grants. Forge international partnerships. Serve as an ambassador for the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Promote the concept of Physical Education’s unique role in social and emotional learning.

Three years later, with all of those goals accomplished and his endowed professorship recently renewed for another term, Wright finds himself at another threshold.

“Reflecting on what I’ve been able to accomplish with this additional support in the past few years is prompting me to think, ‘OK, what am I going to do now?’ ” says Wright, who joined NIU in 2011.

“I’m very pleased with what I’ve done. I’ve got wind under my wings,” he adds. “As I think what I can aspire to, it’s next-level things. I can reach for something I couldn’t reach for otherwise, and this additional support is going to make the difference. It’s really exciting. What an opportunity!”

Building on the foundation established during the first term of his professorship, Wright seeks to make his mark – and his department’s – in the field.

He hopes to publish research that impacts and influences peers who are reading the top journals.

Paul M. WrightData collected in his recent study in Scotland, combined with parallel data collected by his team in the United States and colleagues in New Zealand, will provide a good start. “This project will be the largest one of its type exploring social and emotional learning in physical education,” Wright says. “It will pack a wallop.”

Meanwhile, he wants to continue his steady stream of external funding by going after even larger prizes.

For example, the U.S. Department of State supplied $225,000 for Wright’s Belizean Youth Sport Coalition project in 2014. He’s now in pursuit of a $600,000 grant from the State Department, and believes he’s in good standing to obtain highly competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Next year already will see the launch of an externally funded project in Sri Lanka, similar to the one in Belize, that promotes positive youth development and social change through sport.

Wright’s global initiatives also caught the attention of UNESCO, the leaders of which have asked the NIU professor to serve as a consultant and voice at the table to guide the planning of international policy conferences.

Closer to home, he’s working to convince the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning to nationally recognize as a best practice the pedagogy model he researches.

“If I can get this endorsement of the work we specialize in, that will bring credibility and high-profile, external validation,” he says. “We’ll have very esteemed organizations giving us the nod, and promoting our work.”

Chad McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, believes Wright already is an “international leader in his field” who perfectly matches the description of the EC Lane and MN Zimmerman Endowed Professor framework.

Chad McEvoy

Chad McEvoy

“In creating this professorship, Drs. Lane and Zimmerman expressed a passion for enabling NIU students able to study under the very best faculty. That’s a powerful thing with an endowed professorship: the ability and the resources to go out and secure a truly elite and nationally recognized faculty member and scholar,” McEvoy says. “Certainly, Paul Wright fits that bill.”

The benefits extend beyond students, he adds.

“One of Paul’s real strengths is his ability to collaborate,” McEvoy says, “and what he’s been able to accomplish with the professorship is not just exceptional work on his part but in getting a number of his colleagues involved in that work.”

For Wright, that’s the point.

“An individual holds an endowed professorship, but the idea is to build the reputation of the whole department,” he says. “Personally, with these high-profile activities, if they’re good for me, then they’re good for the department. It’s wins across the board. We want KNPE on the radar.”



Alumna Alexandra Wulbecker shares wisdom with KNPE 583

Alexandra Wulbecker

Alexandra Wulbecker

Just two years after Alexandra Wulbecker completed her days in Anderson Hall, she returned to the NIU Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education with an unexpected message for the students who are following her.

It’s OK to not know where you’re going, as long as you’re passionate about what you do and prepared to do it well.

Wulbecker, who earned an M.S.Ed. in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2015, found employment at alma mater Hoffman Estates High School as a special education teacher’s assistant. She then began to coach volleyball, girls basketball and softball, a sport in which she also offers private lessons.

Speaking July 20 to graduate students in Jenn Jacobs’ KNPE 583 class – Psychology of Coaching – Wulbecker explained how her passion for helping athletes boost their mental game put her NIU education to work while also illuminating a different career direction.

“There is no real clear path in sports psychology. It is what you make it,” said Wulbecker, who played for the NIU Huskies softball team. “There is no right or wrong, but just what works for you.”

For Wulbecker, that has meant striving to develop a new position as a “mental training consultant” for high school athletes.

wulbecker-alexandra-softball

Alexandra Wulbecker waits for the pitch
during her NIU Huskie softball days.

Drawing from her six undergraduate and graduate years at NIU, two of which were spent guiding and comforting new Huskies and their parents as part of the Student Orientation Staff, she combined her interests and talents in counseling, psychology and sports.

Next, Wulbecker began to replicate a graduate school project in which she collaborated with athletes one-on-one for a year. Three Hoffman Estates High School student-athletes – two girls and one boy – took part.

Athletes define what they want to accomplish. They list the things they most respect. Each determines a motivational “power word” for inscription and placement somewhere frequently visible – maybe on a locker door, she said, or maybe on a shoe.

They rate themselves, complete online surveys for further personal reflection and seek the feedback of family and friends. They then examine a list of their top 24 strengths, answering questions of whether they agree, what surprised them and what they think of the input of others.

Customization is crucial, Wulbecker told the KNPE students, and organization is key.

“If the athletes don’t believe in it,” she said, “they’re not going to want to participate or put their time and energy into it.”

Volunteers for the counseling are more interested and more willing to open up than are those students who are referred, Wulbecker said, but providers who are flexible, patient and good listeners are likely to succeed with anyone.

wulbecker-alexandra-2She also offered good advice.

Make each session a conversation. Use “relatable examples” and activities suited to individual learning styles. Change things up with meeting locations and agendas. Allow athletes to vent.

“What I ultimately realized is that these teenagers just wanted to be heard,” said Wulbecker, who is about to begin study in Chicago toward a master’s degree in Counseling with a specialization in Sport and Health Psychology.

Wulbecker’s presentation also focused on her professional endeavors as a coach, including her motivational philosophies and strategies, something valuable to many of the graduate students who already are working as physical education teachers and coaches.

After earning her next degree, she will become a licensed professional counselor.

She plans to continue working with athletes, including those at the professional and collegiate levels, and hopes to complete post-graduate training that would qualify her to counsel Olympians.



KNPE alumna visits alma mater with 266 middle-schoolers eager for reward of physical activity

knpe-crms-7

NIU graduate student Sarah Paver (right) explains
the rules of the game to Clinton Rosette students.

Katelyn Neidel wishes her daily P.E. class at DeKalb’s Clinton Rosette Middle School would last longer than 45 minutes.

That wish came true for Neidel and 265 of her classmates April 21 as they spent five hours at Anderson Hall banging drumsticks, shooting arrows at balloons, practicing martial arts, line-dancing, playing disability sports, testing fitness levels, trying their hand at yoga and parkour and even developing empathy skills.

“Just a second ago, we were in wheelchairs, which was kind of scary – but the basketball part made it cooler,” said eighth-grader Neidel, 14. “I think this is really fun. We’re getting to try a lot of cool activities.”

“We also ran agility courses to see how high we can jump, how fast we can run – and we’re competing against our friends,” added Ella Boyer, 13, also in eighth-grade. “It’s cool to see what you can do.”

So-Yeun Kim, associate professor Adapted Physical Activity in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, coordinated this year’s Clinton Rosette visit. The annual field trip began five or six years ago, Professor Paul Wright said.

About three dozen KNPE faculty members and students volunteered to run the 10 stations.

knpe-crms-3“NIU has a professional development school relationship with Clinton Rosette. Our students do secondary clinicals and teaching at the school,” said Kim, who likes watching the “action and excitement” between professors, college students and middle-schoolers.

Clinton Rosette students also enjoy an aspirational opportunity to visit the NIU campus, explore one of its buildings and interact with college students, she added, while they participate in some physical activities outside of the typical middle school curriculum.

For Jen Montavon, a P.E. teacher at Clinton Rosette, the annual trip allows her to dangle a carrot in front of her students. They must earn their places by being dressed and on time for class each day, following directions and participating in at least 80 percent of activities.

“It gets our kids out of the building, and it gives them some incentive. These are the kids who made it all year long,” said Montavon, who earned her NIU bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in 1996 and completed a master’s in Adapted Physical Education here in 2008.

Bringing “the best of the best” also allows those students to focus on physical activities and fun rather than waiting while the teachers discipline less-behaved students, she added. Some of the children who come to Anderson Hall are quiet by nature, she said, and maybe missing out.

“It’s good to see those kids come here and shine in a different light,” Montavon said “and this is a P.E. teacher’s dream. The kids are all here doing different activities and having fun. How many kids are going to sit in a wheelchair and play basketball? To have these opportunities is amazing, and I’m really grateful to the KNPE department.”

Montavon also is a bit envious of the current KNPE students.

“We didn’t do this when I went through the program, but I wish I could have,” she said. “It’s really kind of a good step for them. In teacher preparation, they’re usually teaching their peers. Now they’re working with middle-schoolers who are the best of the best. It’s a good stepping stone.”

knpe-crms-9Kelsey Flicek, a freshman Physical Education major from McHenry, agrees.

“This is awesome,” Flicek said, taking a quick break from KNPE instructor Gail Koehling’s “drum fitness” activity. “I love how all of the kids get to be a part of our program, and it’s fun to interact with the kids. It helps you to get a lot of experience with students, to interact with them at different levels and realize that every student is different.”

Sean Carpen, a junior P.E. major, volunteered to earn extra credit. Within an hour, however, he no longer cared about boosting his grade.

“It’s a great experience for the kids, and it’s a great experience for us in learning how to teach the kids and assist them,” said Carpen, who spent his day at the archery activity. “This is hands-on experience. This allows you to connect. It gives you practice. I just love working with the kids.”

Carpen, who was motivated to pursue career thanks to an excellent P.E. teacher in high school, also found affirmation of his abilities. Before April 21, the native of Oak Lawn had never instructed anyone in the bow-and-arrow.

“This is great for me,” he said, “because now I know I can teach it.”