Forging connections is important in any industry, but for sport and exercise psychology doctoral student Carra Johnson, WVU outdid itself.
Through a partnership with the New York Mets, Johnson spent June through September working hands-on with the minor league affiliates.
“Up until this point, my research has focused on how coaches respond when their athletes demonstrate hostile aggression,” Johnson said.
As for the relationship between West Virginia University and the Mets, Johnson said that the partnership was established from having a successful program within the industry.
“Our doctoral program has a great reputation within the field of sport psychology, so this professional baseball organization has reached out to us the last couple of years to gage our interest in the mental skills internship,” she said. “I submitted an application, interviewed with the minor league mental skills coordinator and was ultimately offered a position with a minor league team for the season.”
This mental skills coach opportunity was only available to graduate students who have at least completed a master’s degree in sport psychology. Johnson’s job focuses on teaching skills to athletes and helping them utilize mental skills to improve performance.
Johnson, BA 2012, human performance, University of Southern California; MA 2014, health and physical education, Prairie View A&M; MS 2016, sport and exercise psychology, California State University, is in her second year in the doctoral program. Simultaneously, she’s also pursuing another MA, this time in clinical mental health counseling from WVU.
When she’s completed her education, Johnson’s vision is to teach.
“My dream right now is to teach somewhere where I can add value and make an impact, contribute to the growth of sport psychology by working with athletes and conducting research, and to apply mental skills with athletes as a mental skills coach/strength and conditioning coach hybrid,” Johnson said.
Prior to the Mets internship, Johnson wasn’t set on working with a specific sport. In fact, she wasn’t focused on the sports aspect at all. Up to this point, she spent her time honing her personal craft, a pre-requisite, she realized, to helping others.
“I have never had my heart set on working in one particular sport, but until this point have simply focused on the process – developing my understanding of sport psychology, practicing mental skills myself and improving my ability to work with athletes effectively,” she said.“That said, I have loved working in baseball this summer. I have learned a ton about the sport, been surrounded by incredible people and would be fortunate to work in baseball again someday.”