New Textbook Offers JFK Sport Psych Stories and Wisdom to the Field

The Sport Psychology program at John F. Kennedy University is one of the oldest in the country. That means it’s got a few things figured out about the field and some stories to tell as well. Over the past 25 plus years, the program, which rigorously incorporates a total of four internships into the two-year curriculum, has cultivated a unique perspective on the practical application of sport psychology and preparing students to enter and be successful in the field. This year, the department is offering its story, its students’ stories, and indispensable insights to the rest of the field in the form of a new textbook, Excelling in Sport Psychology: Planning, Preparing, and Executing Applied Work.

As program chair and co-editor Alison Pope-Rhodius explains, “The book is all about how you do the work that you’re studying to do.” Essentially, the book is a guide to everything that goes on outside the classroom, offering tools and techniques that seamlessly carry the student from internships into their early professional careers. The opening chapters discuss each critical component of the internship experience including selecting a site, securing a placement, finding a supervisor, preparing to begin, and debriefing after the experience. Middle chapters then delve into a suite of reflective tools useful for succeeding in the internship and beyond, including acknowledging biases, developing self-awareness, collaboration, self care, ethical considerations, and evaluation of one’s work. Later chapters offer considerations for transitioning into the early career such as how to start a business, marketing yourself, and using technology.

JFK’s Sport Psych program is unique in its emphasis on applied work, and this book is an indispensable new resource for the field, especially for students in academic sport psychology programs who are seeking additional support surrounding the internship process and post-graduates who did not have an internship component to their program. The text is also an opportunity to learn the story of the JFK Sport Psychology program, including the structure of the program as well as the stories of the individuals involved. Each chapter, written by a different author, features students, alumni, and faculty offering candid personal accounts of their experiences.

Excelling in Sport Psychology is a manual for meaningful success in the field as much as it is the story of a program and all of the people that comprise it. Rather than being authored by a handful of faculty members, the unique collection is the result of a department-wide collaboration with contributions from current students, recent graduates, and core and adjunct faculty. Edited by the chair of the Sport Psych department, Dr. Alison Pope-Rhodius, former core faculty member Dr. Sean Fitzpatrick, and adjunct faculty member and alum Sara Robinson, MA, the collection also features editorial contributions by current students at the time, Anna Shakal and Bryanna Bruger. Those folks on the cover? Also current students at the time, Dan Ourian and Akasia J-Riggins. It would appear the book itself serves as its own example of innovative applied work occurring in the program.