As I look back on the year of 2021, I once again turn to words written by another; this time it is those of William Ernest Henley: And yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid. The entire poem, Invictus, is a masterpiece of uncomplicated motivation to persevere in the face of adversity. But it is these lesser known lines that epitomize the character of the Kinesiology faculty, staff, and students as we fearlessly navigated the unforeseen circumstances of change that continue to impact our world. We have not only succeeded in simply surviving this second year of continued uncertainty – we have, individually and collectively, accumulated numerous successes.
“New” is not an unfamiliar word to Seattle University’s Kinesiology Department, and the past year continues to emphasize our collective need to innovate: new faculty, new staff, new mobile lab, new partnerships…new opportunities. One might even be able to say that for the Kinesiology Department, it is less ‘the new normal’ and more that ‘the new IS normal’.
The 2021-2022 academic year introduced two new faculty members, each with a very unique role to play within the university. For the first time in Seattle University history, full-time roles are occupying faculty and staff spaces. The opportunity to develop these positions has also provided a deeper relationship with the Athletics Department. Dr Casey Watkins, CSCS, has joined as a part-time instructor for our upper-level applied coursework AND as the strength and conditioning coach for women’s soccer, track and field, and rowing. Theresa Swanson, ATC, is our new internship coordinator for the undergraduate curriculum and shares responsibilities with the Sports Medicine Team as the athletic trainer for track and field and women’s swimming. With the development of these new positions, our undergraduate students are learning from educators who are also active practitioners.
The Kinesiology Department made two new hires this summer and early fall, which has increased the quantity and quality of administrative support for the department. Julius Moss and Dena Ingraham have joined our team as program coordinator and administrative assistant, respectively. Their hard work continues to elevate our efforts to innovate. Julius and Dena also strengthen our connections to other departments: Julius is completing his Ed.D. within the Educational and Organizational Leadership program in the College of Education, while Dena has started her Master’s degree in Public Administration within the Institute of Public Service.
Even though we were not physically on campus for the first half of 2021, the Kinesiology Department was quickly making moves to expand our infrastructure footprint. The mobile laboratory is an innovative solution to invest in our students and community without investing in real estate. Portable technology, particularly related to sport and exercise, has created a path forward in removing boundaries that limit our impact on human function and performance. The mobile lab emphasizes accessibility; it provides flexibility not only in how we research and educate, but also in how we connect with our community. It is our model for the future of Kinesiology and a way of empowering the next generation to create societal impact through human movement.
We celebrated the opening of the mobile lab on Tuesday, November 16. Lab supervisor, Sean Machak, graduate assistant for lab operations, Katy Andersen, and a team of undergraduate and graduate student led an enormous effort to create seven unique research experiences that utilized most of our new technology. Community supporters (on campus and in the greater Seattle area) were able to watch demonstrations on markerless motion capture, force insoles, and fine motor control while also actively participating in stations that examined forearm musculature via ultrasound and tested parameters of strength and power. We have some events coming up in the first half of 2022 that will put the ‘mobile’ in mobile lab – follow us on our social media pages and watch this space!
We continue to explore new and interesting relationships with partners around the greater Seattle community and beyond. Industry partners have helped broaden the ways we can engage our students and community members. Novel, Inc and its subsidiary Novel USA have been incredible industry partners this year, with a matching in-kind gift during our SU Gives campaign. Their support, in combination with the incredible support of our alumni, family and friends, helped us double the number of portable force technology we can offer to our students in class and during education outreach. Similar generosity from Sawbones, a Seattle-grown industry leader in anatomical education models, has expanded our students’ understanding of many structures within the human body.
Relationships with community partners have also strengthened in ways that profoundly support graduate and undergraduate student experience. In 2019, we began to work closely with Upower, a local non-profit organization that focuses on trauma-informed coaching to empower underserved youth. This year, we deepened that relationship to offer the Upower Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship provides a graduate student with the opportunity to work with Upower in creating the appropriate assessment toolkit for understanding just how effective their programs are. The Upower Fellowship may be the first of its kind, but the Kinesiology Department is looking to expand this series; if you know of a local business or organization who might be interested in establishing a fellowship, please let us know!
We are continuing to grow the number of community-engaged learning experiences being incorporated into the classroom. A newly developed course in Exercise and Mental Health will partner with Project Be Free, a non-profit organization that advocates for mental health resources for those affected by domestic violence. Students enrolled in the course will be responsible for developing the exercise program that will be used in a new youth/parent mentorship program, entitled Breaking Generational Cycles. Our freshman course in Health and Wellness will also take important steps in community engagement learning due to the deepening of relationships with Girls on the Run. Students will be charged with creating marketing plans to better engage families with Girls on the Run programming, and develop training sessions that they will lead. Our community partnerships continue to bring the learning out of the classroom and empower our students to be leaders through exercise.
Our department has recently discussed the idea that success looks different to everyone. While I believe that success must be individually determined, I think we can all agree that the Kinesiology Department faculty, staff, and students have achieved an abundance of success as we faced a 2021 that was fraught with challenges. Below are the many, many successful outcomes that we have been celebrating throughout this year.
We want to hear what alumni are doing! If you want to share information about your current employment or education, or volunteer to get involved with the department, please contact us by email.