US Sports Academy

AAHPERD National Convention set for April 1

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The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance is inviting members to its latest conference, which will be held in St. Louis, Mo. from April 1-5.

Feb. 27 is the deadline for discounted registration for the 2014 AAHPERD National Convention and Expo, which will feature keynote speakers Shannon Miller, a 16-time Olympic and world champion and Deborah Tackman, a renowned motivational speaker on comprehensive health education and wellness programs.

In addition the convention will feature workshops on new initiatives and programs, as well as sessions that will provide teaching strategies and practices in: school-based health education, adapted physical education, curriculum and administration, professional preparation, sport and coaching, master and cultural dance classes and research including exercise sciences and motor behavior and measurement.

Member ID is required for registration as well as a password. Those interested in more information can click the following link:


ECSS calling for abstract submissions

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The 19th annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) is calling for abstract submissions, as well as participation in its Sport Science Around the Canals in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to be held July 2-5 at the RAI Convention Centre.

The deadline to submit an abstract is Feb. 15 and contributions from all aspects of sport science and sport medicine are welcome. Abstract submission is free of charge.

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Academy launches new webpage celebrating Black History Month

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The United States Sports Academy is honoring those who faced discrimination in the world of sport through an oral history project featuring African American athletes from Mobile County Training School (MCTS).

In conjunction with the MCTS Alumni Association, the Academy has launched a special webpage for the project called the Black Sports History Project to celebrate Black History Month.

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Church group visits the Academy

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The Senior group from Jubilee Baptist Church in Daphne visited the Academy Thursday to take in the sights associated with the American Sport Art Museum and Archives on campus.

The group spent about an hour on campus being guided on tour by Dr. Fred Cromartie, the Academy’s Director of Doctoral Studies.

Dr. Stephen Butler, the Academy's Dean of Academic Affairs meets with Academy alumnus and owner of the Gulf Coast Interstate Relay.

Academy to be transition point for GCI Relay

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Academy alumnus Anthony D’Onofrio met with Academy faculty and staff, including Dr. Stephen Butler, Dean of Academic Affairs and Matthew Cope, Director of Operations, on Jan. 20 to discuss the Academy’s role as one of six transition points during the 263-mile Gulf Coast Interstate Relay race from New Orleans, La. to Pensacola, Fla. The Academy will also help mark a portion of the course for the Relay.

As a transition point, the Academy will open its doors to both runners and cyclists participating in the race, which will take place April 4-6.

Dr. Bill Steffen teaches coaching around the country

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From the sunny coast Florida to the northeastern U.S., the Academy’s Dr. Bill Steffen has been sharing his wealth of knowledge with coaches throughout the month of January.

Steffen, the chairman of the Academy’s Sports Coaching department and former collegiate soccer coach, recently returned from a speaking engagement at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday, Jan. 16.

Steffen was asked to address the issue of mental toughness in athletes to the crowd of more than 800 soccer coaches.

“Right now mental toughness is a buzz word,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about the way it’s defined and developed.”

Steffen used research he had gathered to instruct the coaches in attendance on how to make their athletes more mentally tough.

“It went very well,” Steffen said. “I got a lot of questions and requests. I gave out between 100 and 150 copies of my presentation to coaches.”

Steffen came to the Academy to help coaches further their education, after spending decades on the sidelines of collegiate soccer pitches, first as an assistant for the University of North Carolina (UNC) women’s team and then as head coach of the University of Oregon women’s team.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at the Academy,” he said. “Helping coaches further their education, I think that’s a great thing.”

Steffen was a successful assistant at UNC, as part of a staff that helped lead the Lady Tar Heels to three out of four national titles during his tenure there from 1993 to 1996. During that time the team had a record of 73-2-1. He spent nine years as the Lady Ducks’ head coach from 1996 to 2005. Steffen earned his doctorate, while working as an assistant coach at UNC-Greensboro.

Steffen, a former professional soccer goalie, gave tips to coaches of elite goalies during a session in Sunrise, Fla. earlier in January. Steffen spent Jan. 6-12 helping to train a collection of coaches on technical and tactical issues as well as fitness and psychological development.

Steffen spent six years as a player in the American Soccer League and the American Pro Soccer League, precursors to Major League Soccer (MLS).

“When I played in those leagues it was a bit more shaky than in the MLS,” Steffen said. “Occasionally checks would bounce, but it was fun. It was soccer at a high level.”

The upstate New York native played goalie for the Albany Capitals, or as Steffen puts it, “we called them the lack of capitals.”

“It was a great experience,” he added.

Dr. Sonya Wesley meets with U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun during a luncheon in Chicago. Blackmun was awarded the Academy's Eagle Award, its highest honor, on Oct. 21, 2013.

Dr. Sonya Wesley Named Alumni Coordinator

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Dr. Sonya Wesley meets with US Olympics CEO Scott Blackmun during a luncheon in Chicago. Blackmun was awarded the Academy’s Eagle Award, it’s highest honor, on Oct. 21, 2013.

There may not be a person more fitted to the title of Alumni Coordinator at the United States Sports Academy than Dr. Sonya Wesley.

Wesley, a former track athlete, who earned a Doctorate of Education in Sports Management from the Academy, said her first professional experience with sports was as an intern at Professional Athletes Career Enterprise (PACE), while a graduate student in San Diego.

As a PACE intern, Wesley worked as a liaison, assisting National Basketball Player Association members with internships, career opportunities during the off-season and career-ending ventures.

“That was my introduction into the professional world of sports,” she said.

Her work ethic and enthusiasm eliminated two positions and she was approached about attending the Academy by Dr. Judith Sweet, the first female member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, who, at the time, was affiliated with PACE.

After graduating from National University with a Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management and a goal of becoming a career resource for athletes in the future, Wesley began traveling and training as a certified fitness instructor.

Wesley went on to volunteer at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

“When I heard America won the bid, I called the first business day at 8 a.m.,” she said. “I was told that I was the first one to call.’”

Wesley assisted the media and sat in on press conferences with the athletes, coaches, agents and others.

“I was thoroughly exposed,” she said. “That sealed the deal. I knew I was going to the United States Sports Academy.”

Wesley started at the Academy in 2000, and interned with the Mobile Wizards, an Arena Football League II team, under the direction of owner, Ken “Snake” Stabler, former quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and Alabama Crimson Tide.

“Among learning the fundamentals of sport management, Mr. Stabler taught me how to approach and address warriors,” Wesley said. “I gave team announcements and performed as a representative.”

After graduating from the Academy in 2004, Wesley founded a non-profit organization called “Sports Series,” an educational program that facilitated workshops for student athletes ages 8 to 18, teaching math and science through sports activities in California, Georgia and Florida.

Wesley dissolved the non-profit in 2013 and decided instead to focus her teaching efforts overseas in Malaysia, as one of 28 members of the Academy’s international faculty. She taught eight various sport-related courses and was voted as one of the instructors of the week.

“The experience was a growth spurt. The students’ work ethic overcame language barriers and their classwork showed that learning was taking place,” she said. “It was exciting to be away among an international population and to return to my alumni home, the United States Sport Academy.”

Upon arriving back in the U.S., Wesley moved to Alabama, saw what employment opportunities were available online and applied.

“I’m in a zone conversing with potential alumni, sharing my experience from the heart,” she said. “Observing Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich host prominent guests, being in the environment of dynamic sport art, learning cutting edge information in the world of sport and engaging passionate sport enthusiastic classmates, I evolved.”

“I am where I am supposed to be and honored to have been chosen to contribute to this institution,” Wesley said. “I want to share my experience and provide assistance to the alumni, as well as help establish a collegial body that continues their relations with and in support of the Academy’s mission,” she added.

Board of Trustees member Dr. Gary Cunningham, left, gives Shaolin Temple Abbot Shi Yongxin a hand-made book of the "Philosophy of Shaolin Kung Fu" course translated into Chinese.

Academy Teaching Sports in Programs that Span the Globe

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Board of Trustees member Dr. Gary Cunningham, left, gives Shaolin Temple Abbot Shai Yongxin a handmade book of the “Philosophy of Shaolin Kung Fu” course translated into Chinese.

Patrick Yipp, an employee of the Hong Kong Amateur Sport Federation and Olympic Committee, was the first individual to successfully complete an International Diploma in Sports program in 1987. He was joined in this distinction on Oct. 19, 2013 with the graduation of 673 Malaysian teachers who completed the 2012 International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS).

In a graduation ceremony held under the patronage of the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and presided over by Deputy Minister of Education Datin Mary Yap Kain Ching, the students collected their diplomas at a special convocation held at Balai Budaya Tun Syed Nasir Ismail in the Dewan Bahasa Dan Putaka in Kuala Lumpur. Dr. T.J. Rosandich, the Academy’s vice president and COO, pointed out at the convocation that the training the teach¬ers received helps Malaysia’s youth both athletically and academi¬cally.

“I hope that all of you will go from here today and apply your new found skills within the schools where you work,” he said. “If you succeed in doing so, you will help to create a better learning environment for all concerned and most importantly, for the betterment of the students under your supervision.”

The convocation kicked off the second year of the 10-week IDPESC program that wrapped up this year in early December. Another 680 Malaysian educators received training in physical education and sports to help improve the country’s youth sports, among other benefits.

Yassin and the coun¬try’s other leaders had the vision to build vigorous sports programs for Malaysian children. It led to the Academy developing a diploma pro¬gram for the Southeast Asian coun¬try that is arguably one of the largest training programs in physical educa¬tion and sports coaching ever under-taken.

Muhyiddin, who received a 2012 International Honorary Doctorate in January from the Academy at its campus in Daphne, Ala., helped oversee the implementation of “One Student – One Sport” in Malaysia’s schools about four years ago to im¬prove physical education and scho¬lastic sports for the nation’s children. As part of the effort, more physical education and sports coaching training is being given to thousands of the nation’s teachers, who oversee the stu¬dents’ development in sports.

It also is important to the devel¬opment of a national system that al¬lows youth to advance in sports, with the best eventually competing in the Olympics or in professional sports.
Students from around the world have successfully completed the Academy’s International Diploma in Sports programs. In addition to Malaysia, students have hailed from Hong Kong, Bahrain, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

THAILAND - For the past nine years, the Academy has taught International Certification programs in Sports Management (ICSM) and Sports Coaching (ICSC) in cooperation with the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT). In addition to the twelve weeks of on-site classroom instruction in Bangkok, for the past seven consecutive years the Academy has taken Thailand officials and best students from the program on a two-week, cross-country American sports study tour.

This year included among other things in-depth looks at United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Training Center in San Diego, and the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

CHINA - About two-dozen Shanghai swimming coaches hosted by the Academy in May received hands-on and classroom instruction. While on campus, the Chinese students participated in seminars taught by Academy faculty on subjects, such as coaching methodology, sports psychology, strength and conditioning, fitness and sports medicine.

They also participated in practical sessions at Bishop State and Auburn University. At Auburn, they spent a day with the college swimming powerhouse learning new training techniques and had the chance to quiz both coach Brett Hawke and Tyler McGill, an Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Academy is currently planning for the delivery of its International Diploma in Sports Coaching in May 2014 in cooperation with the Shanghai Sports Administration (SSA). It calls for the Academy to help transition some 100 of China’s elite athletes and Olympians into new careers as coaches.

SHAOLIN TEMPLE - The Academy has also worked with the Shaolin Temple since 2006. Working with individuals steeped in the lore of the Shaolin, reputed to be the well-spring from which all the marital arts originated, the Academy developed an online course to introduce kung-fu enthusiasts and Chan Buddhists to the philosophical underpinnings of the martial arts.

While the original course was posted in English, beginning this past October, Chinese speakers around the world could take this online course for the first time in their own language. To commemorate this event, Board of Trustees member Dr. Gary Cunningham presented Shaolin Temple Abbot Shi Yongxin with an original, hand-made, leather-bound book of the “Philosophy of Shaolin Kung Fu” course translated in both Chinese and English during the Shaolin Temple Cultural Festival in October at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

GABON - The Academy sent a team in March led by Dr. T.J. Rosandich to conduct a comprehensive study of Gabon’s sports programs and facilities in its cities and rural areas. It submitted a comprehensive report on the West Africa country’s efforts to the Office of the President in May.

This comprehensive evaluation of sport in Gabon followed an earlier effort in which the Academy prepared a Legacy Study concerning the use of Stadia built for the Cup of African Nations held in Gabon in January and February 2012. The Legacy study addressed issues ranging from the operation and maintenance of the facilities to how they could be employed to support Gabon’s national sport effort in the years to come.

Both the Assessment Report and the Legacy Study have formed the cornerstone for a roadmap for the development of a comprehensive National Sport Effort for the country. Findings of these reports were distilled into a draft program entitled “Sport in Gabon: The Way Forward” that is currently being reviewed by senior governmental officials in the Office of the President and in the Ministry of Education, the governmental agency responsible for sport in the country.

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