Just Keep Moving … and Tracking

Raise your wrist if you received a wearable activity tracker (aka Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Garmin Vivosmart) for Christmas.

Raise your wrist if you own one already.

You are one of a growing number of Americans (more than 20%) who look for health-minded ways to quantify yourself. You know the steps you take, the heart rate you have, the minutes you stand, the hours you sleep, and the calories you burn.

For the most part, this is a very good thing. But it’s only good as long as you keep checking in.

According to Dr. Brian Rider, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the department’s Health Dynamics program, most adults who own a wearable activity tracker are delighted and diligent with their device but only for a while. About one third of owners stop using their fitness tracker after six months, and more than half eventually abandon them altogether (wired.com).

“There is evidence to support that the initial push that we get from monitoring how active we are does help us to become more active,” explains Rider, whose research interest include the use of activity monitors to measure and promote physical activity. “It’s not super long lasting. There’s a bit of a plateau.”

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start and maintain your fitness tracking, how then do you continue to find the motivation to strap on your activity tracker and move everyday, all year?

Rider says it’s best to couple your new-fangled exercise technology with old- fashioned pencil and paper.

Dr. Brian Rider

“Researchers have found that wearable fitness technology is effective, if (1) an activity goal, either in steps or calories burned, is articulated, and then (2) you actually have a place to write that down,” says Rider. “I think a lot of times people offload the responsibilities of daily tracking by saying, ‘Oh, the device tracks all that for me’ and they forget to even go and look at it. But research has shown if you actually write down what you get at the end of each day, it’s more a constant reminder whether you achieved your goal or not.”

“People get the idea that they’ve got to do 10,000 steps because they heard it on the news or at work,” Rider continues. “And if they’re not able to reach that goal, they became very discouraged and stop using the device.”

What is a good goal for you to set though? That depends, of course, on several factors like age, current activity level, and your overall health composition. Though the buzz around fitness trackers is the 10,000 step mark, for many people, that’s just not realistic, says Rider.

“People get the idea that they’ve got to do 10,000 steps because they heard it on the news or at work,” Rider continues. “And if they’re not able to reach that goal, they became very discouraged and stop using the device when really, 10,000 steps, which is roughly five miles per day, is not realistic to tell everyone.”

Instead, Rider explains, many people can add on extra steps in their day by just parking further away from the store or office, using the restroom on the next floor, or taking a walking break every hour for a couple minutes. “The daily little things add up,” he says. “And people were amazed how quickly they accrue extra steps by doing those little things.”

“Researchers have found that wearable fitness technology is effective, if (1) an activity goal, either in steps or calories burned, is articulated, and then (2) you actually have a place to write that down,” says Rider.

In a weight-loss intervention study that Rider conducted while in his doctoral program at the University of Tennessee, he and other researchers based participants’ step goals on how much they were currently active. First, they wore an activity tracker for one week to gage their average normal activity in steps.

“Then we asked them to take another 1,000 steps a day for a week, then another 1,000 the next week, and we capped them at 3,000 more steps so they added roughly a mile more than they were normally walking after a month in the study,” Rider explains. “That seemed to work pretty well for them and kept them going.”

Want to learn more about Rider’s research?  

Rider plans to discuss his research on wearable fitness trackers further at an upcoming presentation during Hope’s Winter Happening on Saturday, Jan. 20. He joins five other Hope faculty who will share their academic wisdom with the Hope community. Registration is open now.

 

Human Vocation Meets Canine Avocation

When Dr. Kirk Brumels looks at his Llewellin setter, Dixie, he not only sees a beloved family member, he also sees an athlete. The kinesiology professor, athletic trainer and avid upland bird hunter can’t help but recognize both bonds with his dog. And because he does, Brumels’ vocation met his avocation when he recently authored an article about knee ligament tears in hunting dogs for Retriever Journal, a periodical dedicated to the hunting relationship between sporting dogs and their human partners.

Dixie on the run, her CCL working just fine (Photos by Hunter Brumels ’16)

In his story, “Cruciate Injuries,” Brumels apprises readers about the reasons why hunting dogs tear their cranial cruciate ligaments (CCL) — the human equivalent is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — and how those injuries can be prevented. Not surprisingly, dogs tear their CCLs, and get the tear corrected, the same way humans do: Cruciate tears come from strenuous and abrupt changes in direction of motion and surgery is the only way to repair them.

Brumels’ interest in the subject was born from hearing other hunters’ concerns about their dogs’ potential or real injuries and from watching his lithe and sinewy Dixie take off through the woods with great speed and physicality, sometimes with unfettered abandon. Having once been an athletic trainer for the New England Patriots as well as the former head athletic trainer for Hope sports, Brumels knows that when he sees an athlete in action, the prevention of injury is really the best treatment of injury. This is true of an athletic dog as any athletic human.

Dr. Kirk Brumels and Dixie on the hunt

“Once I started getting into upland bird hunting (for grouse and woodcock) and in my understanding that these dogs and other sporting dogs are basically like high-profile athletes, I wanted to research and share more about helping other owners avoid CCL tears with their dogs,” says Brumels, professor of kinesiology and chairperson of the department. “You get a dog and you spend a ton of time and money training her and the nightmare is she gets an CCL tear. Then she can’t do what she’s loves to do, was bred to do — which is run in the woods and hunt. And of course, then you can’t do what you love to do, too — which is hunt with your dog.”

If a dog were to stand on its hind legs, its knees are the large, rounded joints slightly angled toward the ground. It is at this joint where the canine CCL is located.

To help understand where a dog’s CCL actually is, consider that the front legs of a dog are like human arms — with its shoulders, elbows, and wrists — and its hind legs are like human legs — with its hips, knees and ankles. “Dog bones are like our bones and their bone names are similar to ours, too, except all four of a dog’s limbs are oriented toward the ground,” informs Brumels, who primarily teaches human anatomy at Hope.

So, if a dog were to stand on its hind legs, its knees are the large, rounded joints slightly angled toward the ground. It is at this joint where the canine CCL is located.

With his expertise in human anatomy and sports medicine, Brumels transferred his knowledge of both astutely to the dog world, with help from other experts who spoke to canine kinetics and nutrition in his article. Veterinarians and dog trainers informed Brumels’ own knowledge and writing, and the end product was a story that hunting dog owners should be keen to heed.

But there are issues with a warm-up protocol: You can’t really tell a dog to go take a few easy laps through the woods before starting to seriously hunt and often the excited dog just want to get going.

Though one can never completely prevent CCL tears in dogs — and ACL tears in humans for that matter — Brumels advocates certain steps to intervene in the probability of them. Carefully monitoring protein intake is one way. Another is to actually warm up and cool down a dog before it goes out and comes back from a hunt, just as any human athlete would before and after vigorous physical exercise.

But there are issues with that protocol: You can’t really tell a dog to go take a few easy laps through the woods before starting to seriously hunt and often the excited dog just wants to get going. So Brumels starts off with Dixie doing short time and distance increments.

Who’s a happy, healthy hunting dog? Dixie is!

“We start with a number of breaks right at the beginning,” Brumels says. “We’ll go out for a couple minutes then I call her back and have her stay for a bit, give her some water. I’m getting her warmed up in short exercise bursts.

“But I have to be honest that we don’t always warm-up, and I know better,” he confesses.

Yet, Brumels vows he’ll get better at it after writing his article because avoiding a CCL injury with Dixie means avoiding the adage, “a hunting dog becomes a house dog,” after a catastrophic injury. After all, the joy of the hunt is in them both.

The Rivalry: Sport versus Religion?

Whenever Hope College faces Calvin College on an athletic court or field, an intense, decades-long rivalry gets renewed and, with it, the thrill and agony of heated competition as zero-sum. One will win; one will lose. One must take; one must give. And when rivals meet, neither likes to imagine the latter notions.

Long touted as one of the nation’s best college rivalries, most notably in men’s basketball, Hope versus Calvin fills every criterion for what makes any rivalry great – close regional proximity (like Michigan vs Michigan State), ongoing league and national success (like Duke vs North Carolina), similar size and academic mission (like Army vs Navy). But the Hope versus Calvin rivalry adds one more element that other high-profile rivalries don’t, an element that should bind but has over the years divided. It’s ironic really, for it is religion — noted for this adherences to compassion and love — that adds to the zealous nature of this rivalry for all who play and watch.

Hope versus Calvin rivalry adds one more element that other high-profile rivalries don’t, an element that should bind but has over the years divided. It’s ironic really, for it is religion that adds to the zealous nature of the rivalry for all who play and watch.

Hope.Calvin.York
A team of both Hope and Calvin professors and students presented their research on Christianity and the Nature of Sporting Rivalries (of course) in York, England this past summer.  From left to right, Dr. Chad Carlson, Eric Brower, Harrison Blackledge, Jason Zeigler, Ty VanWieren, Dr. Brian Bolt

And it is this last component – religion – that brought together two students and a professor from each school to attend and present at the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity at York St. John’s University in York, England during the summer of 2016. With over 250 participants from 30 countries, the GCSC aims triennially to affect a ‘culture shift’ in modern sport by sharing ideas and practices from across academic disciplines and denominations of Christianity. Since Hope has ties to the Reformed Church in America and Calvin with the Christian Reformed Church, it naturally would follow that Dr. Chad Carlson and students Harrison Blackledge and Ty Van Wieren, from Hope, and Dr. Brian Bolt and students Eric Brower and Jason Ziegler from Calvin, would team up to lead a session on rivalry and Christianity at this collaborative conference.  In attendance were academics, journalists, politicians, clergy, coaches, administrators and athletes.

“Part of the value of working together on this presentation was just that – the value of working with Calvin folks on it,” says Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology, and a Hope men’s basketball coach, who emphasizes the “with” preposition strongly. “There was no point total to see who was going to be on top at the end of the day. We were just spending time together talking about Jesus and sports. The more we see each other’s humanity, the more helpful it will be to the heart of this rivalry.”

With that foremost in mind, both schools’ professors and students went to work to research the writings of multiple scholars who are both for and against the co-mingling of sport and religion. Their qualitative question to answer was this: How should we be competing in ways that can justify our participation as a Christian in sport?

It would seem that competition is unhealthy for Christians, especially in a passionately contentious atmosphere like Hope versus Calvin.

On the face of it, Carlson says, there are many normative elements that are incompatible between sport and Christianity. The killer instinct, the ways athletes treat their bodies in harmful ways, the development of negative moral values, and the elevation of individual pursuits all fly the face of Christ’s admonition that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. It would seem then that competition is unhealthy for Christians, especially in a passionately contentious atmosphere like Hope versus Calvin.

Well, not really, the six Hope-Calvin investigators would say — and did say at the conference. But there are some conditions. As long as Christians desire to mimic Jesus when they play (and watch) — offering respect and integrity and the best of their abilities as gifts to God —  then competitive aspirations are redeemed. This “mapping” of mimetic desire from Jesus onto others, a theory coined by French-American scholar Renee Gerard, “teaches us to be like him, to imitate him, and no one else, in everything we do, and in this case, even in rivalry,” says Carlson.

“Harrison and Ty are both senior captains on their teams and initially they were afraid to find that they should be holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’ with their opponents. But I believe each of them came away realizing that we can be intense competitors as along as we are aware of where our hearts are at.”

“The biggest thing I learned (from this research) is how important it is to have the right goal in mind,” reflects Harrison Blackledge, a basketball student-athlete. “Rivalries and competitive athletics can help sharpen people on both sides, bring them together as a unit, and achieve success when the main goal of the contest is to glorify God in how we play.  Win or lose we can always do that.  What happens so often, though, is that we make winning our ultimate goal and that is what influences us to bend our ethics and convictions in order to win the game.”

“Working with Calvin was a unique opportunity,” adds Van Wieren, a baseball student-athlete. “So often we get caught up with the intensity of the rivalry that we forget that they are college kids just like us. It was fun to learn more about how rivalry shapes us with our greatest rival. We may be rivals on the court, but off it we can easily be co-workers.”

“Let’s make sure that when we step in between the lines that we understand we are children of God first and foremost. That always needs to be front and center.”

So now, the ball is in their court. Blackledge and Van Wieren will take these lessons and share them on the court and diamond with their teams as well with other Hope student-athletes in other sports. Because while more healthy than some other big-time national rivalries, Hope versus Calvin is still played by humans who are imperfect. Yet, no matter the sport, The Rivalry has the potential to be an exemplar of what any good rivalry can and should be.

“As Christians, we should not be afraid of sport and competition,” concludes Carlson, “but let’s make sure that when we step in between the lines that we understand we are children of God first and foremost. That always needs to be front and center.”

Team Hope Meets Team USA

As patriotic Americans, we’ve grabbed a seat to watch the Rio Olympics for the past week and half, anticipating that greatness and inspiration will blanket us with the Games-glow emitting through our tv screens. What with 75 U.S. medals won as of Monday, August 15, it’s blissful times like these — compliments of hard-working, awe-inspiring, fair-playing athletes — when many are proud to be American.

teamUSABut that pride and inspiration for U.S. Olympians grows exponentially when you’ve actually had the opportunity to meet, talk and play alongside some of them. Such is the case for 14 Hope students and two professors who spent a portion of a 2016 May Term, entitled Elite Sport Development in America, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Spring, Colorado.

Led by Professors Chad Carlson and Becky Schmidt of Hope’s kinesiology department, students spent a week in Colorado — at the USOTC and at other professional sports venues like the Broncos Stadium of the NFL — to learn how elite athletes are developed and resourced. Carlson and Schmidt collaborated to create this first-time May Term to show students some ways that sporting pipelines fill and flow to produce wins and records for the United States.

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Senior Caitlyn Campbell shows off her extra access at the USOTC.

“We wanted our student to get an up-close look at the multitude of ways U.S. athletes are trained to reach their peaks by national governing organizations,” said Carlson. “We saw how the athletes, on both the Olympic and Paralympic teams at the USOTC, are trained physically, psychologically, nutritionally, technologically and medically. We also heard from post-participation experts who help athletes’ transition out of their sports worlds and into the ‘real world’ smoothly. Overall, our access to athletes and coaches at the USOTC was high, and we could not have asked for a better schedule and opportunities to rub shoulders with high-level people.”

Besides one awestruck highlight of meeting U.S. Swim Team captains Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt after lunch in the USOTC cafeteria, Hope students also got to watch a sparring match between American boxers and the Azerbaijan team, were befriended by the men’s gymnastics team, shot precision rifles on the shooting range, and learned a thing or two about judo and Paralympic volleyball. (They had related academic assignments to work on, too!) While all of the USOTC experiences were meaningful and educational, junior Bryanna Howard,  an athletic training major, was especially moved by her encounters with Paralympians.

USOC Phelps
U.S. Swim Team captain Michael Phelps (in hat) and Allison Schmitt, right of Phelps, meet Team Hope.

“The US Paralympic athletes that I met with are some of the most down-to-earth, passionate, kind, and strong-willed people I have ever met,” says Howard. “Most of them, I learned, were born able-bodied, and something happened to make them adaptive. But their courage and strength were evident as they talked about how they proved doctors wrong, and learned to adapt and still be successful with their new outlook on life. They were awesome to meet with, and now my new goal is to hopefully work with them one day. Especially because of the suggestions by the OTC staff to apply for their internships.”

sittingvb
Getting a session and lesson by Paralympic coaches and athletes in sitting volleyball.

And that is one of the desired outcomes of this May Term. That Hope students interested in working in athletics would develop connections with folks in sports industries and find internships that would move them toward their dream jobs.

judo
“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” Hope student Tim Pletcher flips a former judo Olympian (and now assistant coach) while Sam Jansen, left, and Nick Buursma, right, watch the action.

“One of the main mantras at the OTC is ‘bold wins gold,'” Schmidt explains, “but that doesn’t only mean athletically.  It was evident there that it applies to those who are bold to step up and do something when working behind-the-scenes with athletes. So many people apply for jobs at the OTC, and it’s people who are most bold who get them. It was great to see our students not waiting to reach out to OTC staffers.  They started to make connections by making introductions or sending out emails then and there.”

Now watching the Rio Olympics every second they can, these Hope students have a newer and deeper appreciation for what it takes to be an Olympic and Paralympic athlete.  And they also have a newer and deeper appreciation for what it means to be an Olympic and Paralympic human.

“Before going to the OTC, I had this idea that most Olympians were these specimen athletes who were designed by scientists to be elite,” says junior history and economic double major, Joey Williams. “What I found was that, despite the fancy equipment and scientists, these athletes are at the top level because they love their sport and are willing to work towards their goals…And (I learned) these athletes are young people just like us, except they happen to be really, really, really good at their craft.”

Howard concurs and adds:

“Seeing the athletes that I talked to now on the world’s biggest stage, I cheer for them in a different light. I got to see them train, away from the cameras and the limelight; I got to see their personalities and their work ethic, and their drive to perfect their skills before the world sees them. I feel like I know them, just a little bit, because I saw them, and I talked to them, not what the media writes about them, or what they say when the cameras are on. We saw these incredible elite athletes as just normal people: sharing a meal in the dining hall, walking in the same halls as them, watching them train, and taking pictures with them after a training session.”

gymnasts
Members of the men’s gymnastics team quickly befriended many on the Hope May Term team.

Hopeful Health for Kids in Holland

The statistical warning signs about obesity and overweight rates for American children have been scaring health providers and educators for three decades now, but little has improved in recent years. Since the mid-1980s when tracking of body mass index (BMI) numbers began, obesity rates have doubled for children and quadrupled for teens. If those stats aren’t sobering enough, here’s one more:

More than one-third of children or adolescents are either overweight or obese in this country and those children are more likely to remain overweight or obese as adults, putting them at higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and some cancers.

Three Hope professors, though, are doing their part to help reverse the girth of our nation.

FOF.Morrison
Dr. Kyle Morrison, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of Foundations of Fitness, inside a dedicated space in the Dow Center where even the wall color was selected to motivate children to exercise.

“Foundations of Fitness,” a multidisciplinary program that provides Holland area families with age-appropriate structured exercise and lifestyle education, is a Hope College-based childhood wellness endeavor led by Dr. Kyle Morrison, assistant professor of kinesiology, with the assistance of Dr. Steven Smith and Dr. Mark Northuis, both professors of kinesiology. The program started in the fall of 2014 to help reduce childhood obesity and overweight percentages locally and has been funded with about $250,000 in grants from Herman Miller Cares over its two-year lifetime.

Working with 20 different families on average over 10-week periods each semester and summer, Morrison and his colleagues use exercise and education toward instilling the benefits of a healthier lifestyle upon those involved. Children ages 5 to 12 (plus their siblings) are referred by physicians and school nurses. First assessed before enrollment, they then engage in 90 minutes of varied physical activity and motor skill development once each week. Meanwhile, their parents hear lessons from Morrison and other college experts about nutrition, sleep, screen-time, stress, and motivational and behavioral habits.  Right alongside the program’s three professors, whose research specialty is pediatric wellness, are at least six to eight Hope pre-health-science students who assist with activities and become positive, active role models, salubriously living into young children’s  lives.

FOF.Group1
Hope students Jorgie Watson (in orange) and Michelle Hance (in light blue) exercise alongside the children in Foundations of Fitness.

“In many ways, we are going back to basics for the kids and their families,” Morrison says of the program’s methodology. “We want to improve kids’ confidence in fundamental motor skills, and we want parents to know more about diet and healthy lifestyle habits. But more importantly, we want to expose them all to a love of lifelong activity.”

In the process, Morrison hopes of a wholesome paradigm shift, too. “When kids in the program are asked ‘why do you think you are here?’ we hope to move them away from the ‘to get skinny’ answer toward the ‘to get healthy’ answer. This is not about numbers – weight or BMI or obesity rates; this is about overall health.”

FOF.HANKINSON
Recent Hope graduate Michael Hankinson, right, who returns to the program as a volunteer, works on “planking” with a young participant.

Curing the obesity epidemic is a complicated issue. It is not simply about getting kids and their parents to exercise more and eat less. It is also about a fixing a reliance on fast and processed food at home and in restaurants; about cutting back on television and other screen-based time; about a myriad of socio-economic factors that can hinder a healthy life; about an individual’s chemical make-up and genetics; about sitting down to eat a meal together instead of on-the-run; and, it’s even about childhood stress which also leads to weight gain. While kids who are obese or overweight have systemic health concerns, they are at risk for social discrimination and low self-esteem, too.

“We have a no bullying clause in Foundations of Fitness,” says Morrison. “This program is meant to be a safe place for kids to feel and to get healthy. And one other thing we teach them is that it’s okay to fail. They learn that they are supported when they succeed and even if they don’t. That is important for them to experience and to remember, especially after they leave this program.”

“We want to improve kids’ confidence in fundamental motor skills, and we want parents to know more about diet and healthy lifestyle habits. But more importantly, we want to expose them all to a love of lifelong activity.”

A dedicated room in the college’s Dow Center – painted teal-green-aqua that research has shown to be one of the three most motivational colors in the human-eye color palette – includes unique exer-gaming equipment such as a multi-player dance game and an Xbox system that requires the user to pedal a bike to keep the video game powered. More traditional equipment is there too, such as age-appropriate elliptical machines.

FOF.Group2
Group warmup for Foundations of Fitness participants at the Dow Center.

But kids being kids, full-court games are what they like most, such as Pac-Man tag, a game played along the lines on a Dow court, or, freeze tag with a twist: skipping, hopping, or galloping to tag and if caught, the kids must complete five sit-ups or push-ups before they are released back into the game.

“It has been an awesome opportunity to get to know different children and their families in our community,” says senior Jorgie Watson, an exercise science major who has been involved with the program since it started. “I love to see the improvement within the children, not only in their appearance but in their confidence and physical fitness. Many of them can’t run around the Dow track more than two laps (when they first start), but at the end, they run-walking 10 laps which is really awesome to see.”

FOF.Campbell
Hope student Caitlyn Campbell, measuring cups in hand, discusses serving size with a Foundation of Fitness participant.

“Several of these families are receiving advice on healthy living that they would have never gotten the chance to learn otherwise,” explains junior Caitlyn Campbell, an exercise science major who plans to do graduate work in nutrition. “On top of that, the kids get an active social outlet where they feel comfortable and safe enough to exercise and learn new sports with their peers. Seeing the kids become progressively more confident with themselves is what kept me coming back to work with the program for each term. The quantitative health data we have collected further demonstrates the positive changes this program is making. But, our proudest health outcome is their increased quality of life.”

To encourage a child’s continued fitness once his or her participation in the program has ended, a four-month Dow Center membership is given to a family who attends at least eight of the 10 Foundations of Fitness sessions.  Coming back to the Dow provides more activity options for the family to enjoy, like swimming, basketball, running, racquetball, and various exercise equipment. And Hope student mentors continue working with their mentees one-on-one during their Dow membership phase.

“The quantitative health data we have collected further demonstrates the positive changes this program is making. But, our proudest health outcome is their increased quality of life.”

Morrison’s vision would be to establish an even more comprehensive center for childhood enrichment to impact even more fully the wellness of the Holland area (so far close to 100 have participated in Foundations) because “we have an obligation to our community and we want to be supportive of each other. But that is a dream that is much further down the road.”

For now then, Foundations of Fitness is making a holistic, healthy difference right where it is, one young life at a time.

 

Serve, Volley, Set, Read

With her 2015 volleyball season recently concluded, Becky Schmidt,  Hope’s head coach and assistant professor of kinesiology, undoubtedly used a page or two out of her own book in coaching the national championship-defending Flying Dutch to another NCAA appearance (their eighth in a row) and a 24-7 overall record.

And not just her own playbook but her own textbook, too.

Head coach Becky Schmidt ’99 guides the team during the championship game against Emory (Georgia) in 2014.
Head coach Becky Schmidt guides her team during the championship game against Emory (Georgia) in 2014.

Schmidt is the author of the newly released, Volleyball: Steps to Success, a 216-page instructional publication published by Human Kinetics that provides guidance on serving, passing, setting, attacking, and blocking as well as tactics for playing various offensive and defensive schemes at all positions. The book features dozens of drills, illustrated by photos of Hope College students on the DeVos Fieldhouse court, as well as a self-scoring component that allows players to chart progress and accelerate improvement.

Courtesy of Human Kinetics
Courtesy of Human Kinetics

A project two years in the making, Schmidt wrote the book with club and high school volleyball players and their coaches in mind. She also wanted college students and instructors in volleyball activity classes to benefit from her book.

Schmidt vastly relates to each audience member to whom she writes, having stood in their same coaching, teaching, and playing shoes. As a former NCAA Division III All-American at Hope herself, and now, a professor of volleyball activity classes, a club coach of girls ages 12 to 18, an international coach of two U.S. teams to Italy and Australia, and, a 2014 national championship coach with over 350 wins in 15 years of head coaching at the Division III level, Schmidt knows from whence she writes.

“I wanted to break each step of the game down into fundamental pieces and I also wanted to make sure I communicated the importance of each of those pieces—and how they fit into the greater game,” Schmidt says of her writing process.  “When teaching volleyball class, for example, we learn and talk about fundamental skills first, but we still play a lot of volleyball games in class.  This book shows the lessons and importance of fundamental skills and techniques, alongside tactics, in context with the bigger game.”

“Leading her team to the NCAA Division III National Championship is testament to Coach Becky Schmidt’s acute knowledge of volleyball and approach to coaching,” endorses Sam Shweisky, head men’s volleyball coach at Princeton University. “In Volleyball: Steps to Success, she provides a game plan for improving skill level, mastering the fundamentals, and achieving success.  This book will make any volleyball player or coach better.”

Schmidt  is a 1999 graduate of Hope with a major in kinesiology. She subsequently completed a Master of Science degree in sports behavior and performance at Miami (OH) University 2003.

You can purchase Volleyball: Steps to Success at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore. The Hope-Geneva Bookstore is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., Call 800.946.4673 or email bookstore@hope.edu.