by Sharyn Kopf
January 1, 2009
Welcome to 2009! A time for new beginnings and new resolutions. And after the cakes, cookies and candy canes that coat the holiday season, it makes sense that many of our resolutions center on health — lose weight, get in shape, and take better care of our physical well-being.
But some individuals think about fitness year-round, so much so they decide to make a career out of it. They have a passion for seeing people in good health. Those so inclined are just the kind of students who would benefit from pursuing a degree from Cedarville University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science.
“We really have something for everybody,” says Dr. Evan Hellwig, interim chair of the department, “specifically people attracted to or interested in working with the human body — such as how it works or how to make it perform better.”
The wide gamut of programs offered cover everything from athletic training and sport management to physical education and exercise science.
Last spring, the department absorbed the athletic training (AT) major. But don’t let the name fool you. This is not about training athletes and should not be confused with personal trainers. It is a recognized allied health profession, focusing on the “prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities.”
“In a nutshell, we’re ‘sports medicinists,’” Hellwig says. “The problem is there’s no such thing as a sports medicinist. What you’ll find are orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists — and certified athletic trainers.”
Cedarville’s athletic training program has a unique place in the profession. Though there are approximately 350 accredited programs in the U.S., very few approach the discipline from a biblical perspective. And that’s an important distinction for Cedarville students. “As a Christian, I have more than just bodily answers,” says Hannah Haynes ’08, an AT graduate. “I can give answers that provide eternal hope.”
Of the 102 institutions in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, only about 25 have an accredited athletic training major. The University also stands out in that it has five full-time ATs on its faculty. According to Hellwig, for a school without football, hockey, wrestling, or lacrosse programs, that fact alone is remarkable. Add to that state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and Cedarville offers a truly strong and unique major.
Athletic training opened the door to other allied health professions, so the department now offers a major in allied health as well. This presents students with an option they have long desired: the ability to pursue a career in areas like physical or occupational therapy without having to major in biology. It is also ideal for anyone interested in other allied health careers such as physician’s assistant, optometrist, dentist or chiropractor.
“In the past,” says Hellwig, “Cedarville has prepared students with a biology major, but that requires a lot of things you don’t need to get into an allied health field.” It also doesn’t include classes they do need, such as psychology. So the department took the requirements of allied health professions and then added classes in psychology, biology, and exercise and sport science, making it a multi-disciplinary major. But while this is far from an easy program, Hellwig emphasized that it is not designed to prepare students for medical school.
They also now offer a minor in sport management, in addition to the major already available. Many students wanted training in the field but had already chosen a course-heavy degree and couldn’t handle a double major. By providing this minor, students who are majoring in education, for instance, can pursue a degree that prepares them to be an athletic director at a high school.
Multi-age physical education and multi-age health education are the department’s most established majors. But it became clear over the years that there was a need to expand into exercise science, sport management, and athletic training.
Exercise science is about training athletes, whether it is working with professionals or simply helping people who want to get in shape, lose weight, or perform better or at a higher level.
“We prepare students to go to graduate schools for occupational therapy, physical therapy, exercise physiology, even nutrition,” says Dr. April Crommett, assistant professor of exercise science. “They can work in industries such as cardiac rehab, personal training, and sport enhancement.” The latter career is similar to being a personal trainer but focuses on a particular sport skill, such as working with a retiree who wants help with his golf game.
If exercise science is the athletic side of sports, sport management is the business side. This major attracts those who are interested in the marketing, advertising, promoting, even facility design aspects of sports.
Then there is the general sport and exercise studies (SES) major, a degree that basically offers a broad overview of exercise and human performance. Recent Cedarville grad and star basketball player Brittany Smart ’07 majored in SES — and is now using her skills in ministry to teach young people about sports … and the Bible. “In everything you do, especially if you want to live a life worthy of Christ,” she says, “you should use it as an outlet to share Him with others. Cedarville was good practice for that.”
Hellwig adds, “SES is for someone without a specific career path in mind, but who really likes sports.”
Simply the Best
Like all Cedarville’s programs, the exercise and sport science department approaches its courses through a Christian worldview. This sets them apart from other programs around the country. Add to that the commitment to excellent academics, and prospective students would be hard-pressed to find a stronger program. Cedarville’s program follows the highest national standards — including the guidelines set up by the American College of Sports Medicine.
“Students are able to get into graduate programs,” says Crommett. “They are also required to do a senior research paper, so they are very well-prepared for graduate school. Many schools don’t have that requirement.”
Hellwig cannot speak highly enough of the University’s faculty. “Many have been here a long time and have a lot of experience,” he says. “The head coaches of our teams are all faculty members, so our students are exposed to some of the best people in their fields. They know what they’re doing since they have to go out there everyday and put their theories into practice."
Last, but certainly not least, Cedarville’s labs and facilities — both indoor and outdoor — are second-to-none, offering the latest technology.
Learn more about the department of exercise and sport science.