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KRSS Students in Rio Olympics

The Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies will be represented well in this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Molly Hannis, a recent graduate of the Sport Management program, and Kira Toussaint, Kinesiology undergraduate student, hope to make a splash as they represent their respective countries in the pool. Hannis finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200-meter breaststroke to punch her ticket to the games. Toussaint will represent her home country of the Netherlands in the 100-meter backstroke.

Track and field events will showcase two Volunteers competing for the U.S. who are current students in Sport Management. Christian Coleman, currently a sophomore, will go for gold as a member of the men’s 4×100-meters relay team. Graduate student Tavis Bailey will also attempt to earn a medal in discus at the games.

Read more about these athletes and others who will represent UT at the Olympics this summer, including a schedule of their events.

The Limits of Athletes; What Makes Them Great?

USA cyclist Taylor Phinney tests the limits of his ability every time he competes in an event.  As one of the top athletes in the world, Phinney followed in the footsteps of his parents which are both Olympic medalists. But is that the only reason he has been successful?David Bassett

With this great athletic ability comes questions; questions that David Bassett and Scott Conger are trying to answer.  Is it genetics?  Is it starting training at an early age? How can someone run faster and farther than the average person?

Enjoy this article, The Science of Olympians, from David Bassett, professor and head of our Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sports Studies in the University of Tennessee College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, and Scott Conger, assistant professor in The Department of Kinesiology at Boise State University, as they explore athletes, their abilities, and what makes it happen.

Kinesiology Student Defies Death to Finish Degree


Makayla Claussen received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology on May 14, 2016 after overcoming stage four cancer as well as a rare and life-threatening autoimmune disease that almost took her life.  A stem cell transplant was needed to save her life, and the only potential donor lived 4,000 miles away in Emden, Germany.

Read the full story about Makayla’s courageous battle and the day she graduated from UT and met the woman who saved her life.

81 Year-Old Swimmer Leaves Class Behind


David Bassett, Interim Department Head and professor in KRSS, invited decorated 81 year-old senior swimmer and retired dean and professor of architecture, Bill Lauer, to race against students in his “Physiology of Athletes: Exploring the Limits of Human Performance” class yesterday. Lauer swam against seven of the students in a competition appropriately named, “Are You Fitter Than an 80 Year-Old?”. The students, along with Bassett and professor emeritus in Exercise Physiology, Ed Howley, raced Lauer as a fun way to cap off the end of the semester.

Lauer and one student used the starting blocks while others dove in from the pool deck or pushed off of the wall to start the 200-yard freestyle event. Lauer swam the four laps in 2 minutes, 49 seconds, finishing well ahead of the students in the class. Howley finished in second place and Bassett came in third. The closest student completed the race one and one-half minutes behind Lauer.

Bassett’s class addresses topics dealing with the physiology of high-performing athletes by examining case studies of champions, as well as genetic, anatomical, and functional traits of individuals exploring the limits of human sports performance. Students recently discussed the aging athlete and how exercise can help prevent health problems that come with aging.

Bill Lauer is certainly a healthy role model for young people, as he still swims four to six times a week and competes on a regular basis. Read more and enjoy the video about Lauer and this fun end-of-semester activity by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel

KRSS Recognitions at Chancellor’s Honors Awards

Margy in Greece


Margy Wirtz-Henry was one of several individuals from the KRSS Department who was honored at last night’s Chancellor’s Honors Awards. She was one of four individuals selected for the 2016 Excellence in Advising Award. This award is bestowed by the Office of the Chancellor and the Teaching Council of the Faculty Senate to honor outstanding work in advising. Wirtz-Henry’s advising philosophy is that every student or potential student who reaches out to her is valuable and deserves to be treated well. As the undergraduate admissions coordinator for KRSS, she puts this philosophy into practice by combining her knowledge of UT policies and procedures with excellent customer service every time she advises a student. One of her advisees says, “From Margy, I have learned a wonderful work ethic and how to be a compassionate person.”

Alicia JohnsonHeadshot_Johnson_AKADoctoralAward (405x640), PhD student in Sport Studies, was one of three doctoral students to receive the Graduate Student Teaching Award. This award honors graduate student excellence in instruction. Johnson excels in teaching socio-cultural foundations of sport and recreation, a subject that challenges students to think critically about issues rooted in often unfamiliar aspects of history and philosophy. She shares her own experiences and fosters open dialogue in the classroom. Her background in teaching in Uganda gives her an international perspective. She received the Educator’s Hall of Honor Scholarship in 2014 and has already co-authored four peer-reviewed articles and three book chapters, with even more research in the works.

Andraya Carter, Makayla Claussen, Bhumika Patel, and Nichole Skender were four out of six recipients across the entire campus to receive the Extraordinary Community Service Award . This award honors students that exhibit the Volunteer spirit in the community.

carter (306x306)Andraya Carter is currently seeking her Master’s degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior. She spent 100 hours this year volunteering with students at the Tennessee School for the Deaf and has been involved in multiple organizations, including Hoops for Hope and the Boys and Girls Club. She is also a member of the Lady Vols basketball team and the VOLeaders Academy, which is a group of Tennessee student-athletes seeking to affect social change through the platform of sport.

claussen (505x640)Makayla Claussen is an undergraduate Kinesiology major who had her college career unexpectedly suspended when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the fall of 2012. She emerged from the life-threatening experience cancer-free and with a renewed commitment to her studies. She is a volunteer with Race for the Cure and Ronald McDonald House. On campus, she serves as a Black Cultural Programming Committee member and has founded a student organization, Be the Match on Campus, which encourages students to register for the U.S. bone marrow program.

patel (123x184)Bhumika Patel is an undergraduate Therapeutic Recreation major with a minor in Psychology. She has a strong record of service on behalf of the disabled. She has worked with disabled children as a camp counselor for three years and devoted hundreds of hours of her time volunteering for local pediatric hospitals, clinics, therapeutic recreation facilities, and nursing homes. She also helped to found UT’s first Therapeutic Recreation Student Association and currently serves as its co-president. She is fluent in five languages, including American Sign Language.

skender (207x228)Nichole Skender is also an undergraduate Therapeutic Recreation major. She worked with the Ignite program as both a team leader and the student director, helping incoming students transition into college life. She also worked in UT’s Office of Disability Services. She has been active in the Alternative Break program and Emerging Leaders. Her many hours of community service include working with the Emerald Youth Foundation, FUTURE program, and Camp Koinonia.

Additional Chancellor’s Honors Awards were given to students in KRSS in the categories of Extraordinary Professional Promise, Extraordinary Academic Achievement, Top Collegiate Scholars, and Outstanding Scholar Athletes. The winners are listed below.

Extraordinary Professional Promise

  • Joshua Anderson, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Hunter Bennett, PhD candidate in Biomechanics
  • William Crockett, Master’s candidate in Sport Management
  • Rebecca Elias, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Lucas Forstrom, Master’s candidate in Sport Management
  • Alicia Johnson, PhD candidate in Socio-Cultural Studies
  • Emily Post, Master’s candidate in Exercise Physiology
  • Christine Steffen, Master’s candidate in Sport Management

Extraordinary Academic Achievement

  • Faith Johnson, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Harper Lucas, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Derek Lance, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Abbey Morris, Senior in Sport Management
  • Cherelle Thompson, Senior in Kinesiology

Top Collegiate Scholars

  • Emily Amburn, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Amy Estep, Senior in Kinesiology
  • Jonathan Leonard, Senior in Kinesiology

Outstanding Scholar Athletes

  • Harper Lucas, Senior in Kinesiology (Rowing)
  • Derek Lance, Senior in Kinesiology (Baseball)
  • Faith Johnson, Senior in Kinesiology (Swimming)
  • Cherelle Thompson, Senior in Kinesiology (Swimming)

Dubinsky wins scholarship to conduct research at the Olympics in Rio


Yoav Dubinsky, first-year PhD student in sport management, received a $4,000 W. K. McClure Scholarship for the study of world affairs. The funds will support Dubinsky’s research in Rio de Janeiro during this summer’s Olympic Games. The McClure Scholarship provides funding for research “which offers the potential for the development of knowledge relative to significant issues or problems associated with world affairs and the reduction of international conflict, principally through legal, cultural, political, economic, social, and scientific studies.”

Dubinsky’s research will explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the context of Olympism and the Olympic Games. Drawing on interviews, on-site observations, and document analysis, data collection will take place in June, July, and August in Israel and Brazil, during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The modern Olympics are arguably one of the major cultural, political, economic, and social events in human affairs. On the one hand, the Olympics have a long history of claiming a role in reducing international conflicts; on the other hand, it can be argued that they are indeed exacerbating cultural, political, and social divisions. One of the key examples for both sides of the argument is how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out in the Olympics. Studying the politics of this conflict in the context of the 2016 Games is truly a unique opportunity. After decades of demands by surviving family members, the Rio Games will be the first time the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 terrorist attacks during the Munich Olympics will be officially commemorated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Until recently, the IOC had resisted such efforts, arguing that the Olympics are beyond politics. The commemoration of the 1972 terrorist attack will be particularly precarious given current threats of global terrorism.

Dubinsky’s background uniquely qualifies him to conduct this project. He holds a Master’s degree in Olympic studies from the University of Peloponnese (Greece), a Master’s degree in political communications from Tel Aviv University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science also from Tel Aviv University. As a journalist, he has covered two previous summer Olympic Games and he is accredited to attend the 2016 Olympic Games. The accreditation will provide him with prime access to several critical sites to collect data, including sports venues, media centers, mix-zones, press conferences, and the events surrounding the commemoration of the Munich victims.

Lars Dzikus, associate professor in sport studies, advises Dubinsky in his doctoral program. This is Dzikus’ second consecutive advisee to win a prestigious McClure Scholarship. This month, Alicia Johnson successfully defended her dissertation on women’s soccer in Uganda. For this project, Johnson conducted two-months of field work in the East African country examining how Ugandan women experience football and how those experiences are shaped by colonialism and neocolonialism. Both Johnson’s and Dubinsky’s research would not have been feasible without the support of the McClure Scholarship.

Anderson wins third place at 20th Annual EURēCA Awards


Joshua Anderson, senior Kinesiology student, was recognized at the 20th Annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA) event on campus last week. The College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences had 16 poster presentations and Anderson received third place. Anderson’s project was titled “The Impact of a Child-Centered, Mastery Movement Program on Physical Activity Levels, Motor Skill Development and Cognitive Function in Young Children“. His faculty mentor was Dawn Coe.

Also representing the KRSS department at this event were undergraduate Kinesiology students Amy Estep and Daniel Sample. Estep’s project was titled “An Epidemiological Study of Ankle Injuries Among Football Players At A Division I University”. Her faculty mentor was Eugene Fitzhugh. Sample’s project was titled “Use of Exercise Support Methods in Free-Living Adults”. His faculty mentor was Kelley Strohacker.

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EURēCA is an annual event that showcases research and creative activities by currently enrolled undergraduate students in collaboration with a University of Tennessee, Knoxville faculty mentor. Entries can be individual or group projects and are judged by a panel of UT faculty members and industry partners. The Office of Undergraduate Research coordinates this unique competition to encourage, support, and reward undergraduate participation in the campus research enterprise. An added value is the development of faculty mentoring relationships.

Four KRSS Students Receive AKA Awards


We are pleased to announce four students in our department have been selected as American Kinesiology Association award winners for 2016.

Headshot_Johnson_AKADoctoralAward (405x640)Alicia Johnson, current Socio-Cultural Studies doctoral student, received the Doctoral Scholar Award. This is awarded to doctoral students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher who are expected to graduate during the 2016 calendar year. During the review process for the National Doctoral Scholar Award, Alicia was identified as a finalist, so in addition to the program award, she earned Honorable Mention recognition for the national award.

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Scott Kimsey, who is currently a master’s student in the Sport Management concentration, received the Master’s Scholar Award. This is awarded to graduate students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who are expected to graduate in the 2016 calendar year.
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Abbey Morris, senior Sport Management undergraduate student, received the Undergraduate Scholar Award. This is awarded to seniors with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who will be graduating in the 2016 calendar year.

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Hunter Bennett, PhD student in Biomechanics, received the Graduate Student Writing Award. Students receiving this award must be the first author on the publication and must have been a student at the time the paper was accepted for publication. The paper must have been published during the 2015 calendar year.

These awards honor a select number of students whose academic and leadership records are distinctive. They have demonstrated an exceptional  interest in the field of kinesiology by undertaking independent or guided research, assuming leadership positions, and having the potential for making a significant impact on the field.

Biomechanics PhD student awarded Graduate School Fellowship


Shelby Peel was awarded the 2016-2017 J. Wallace & Katie Dean Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to incoming graduate students who have excelled in their previous undergraduate/graduate work and who show promise for outstanding graduate work in excellent and demanding programs at the University of Tennessee.

Shelby is currently completing her Master’s degree in Health and Sport Sciences from the University of Memphis with a GPA of 3.96. Her thesis research was focused on understanding the effects of pitch repetition on lower extremity joint kinetics. In addition to her thesis, Shelby was an integral part of several research projects which has already led to co-authorship on four peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Shelby will begin the Kinesiology and Sports Studies PhD, Biomechanics specialization, in the fall of 2016 under the supervision of Joshua Weinhandl. Her intended research focus will be on the development of novel approaches to identify risk factors associated with musculoskeletal injury in athletic performance.

Lightfoot Receives Outstanding Exercise Science Alumni Award


Timothy Lightfoot, PhD, from the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University, received the Outstanding Exercise Science Almuni Award for 2016. He also gave an inspiring lecture titled: “Life after UTK: Blood pressure, Genetics, Frantic Bananas, and the Passion of Science” last Friday at the University of Tennessee. Lightfoot has published over 50 scientific, peer-reviewed articles on the physiological response to high-G exposure and hemorrhage, as well as the genetics of daily physical activity and exercise endurance and is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies was honored to host him for the day.

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