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A graduated vision in sport psychology

CPASS alumni contribute to the field of sport and exercise psychology through research, teaching and service

Abstract image of a running track

Four sport and exercise psychology alumni continue to make a significant impact within the American Psychological Association Division 47, Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology. Megan Byrd, Brandonn Harris, Jamie Shapiro and Amanda J. Visek are adding their vision to the national organization through research, teaching and service. 

In their new leadership roles, they hope to increase student involvement, expand diversity, equity and inclusion, collaboration efforts, focus on ethical practices and enhance mentoring opportunities. Below they reflect on their experiences as graduate students in the College and offer their support and guidance for current SEP majors.

Featured Alumni

Portrait of Megan Byrd

Megan Byrd 

Assistant Professor, Co-Director of Mental Performance at Tormenta FC 

Hometown: Florence, KY

Ph.D., Sport and Exercise Psychology, WVU, 2017

Portrait of Brandonn Harris

Brandonn Harris

PhD, CMPC, NCC, LAPC Professor, Program Coordinator and Graduate Program Director for the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Ph.D., Sport and Exercise Psychology, WVU, 2008
M.S., Sport and Exercise Psychology, WVU, 2005
M.A., Counseling, WVU, 2005

Portrait of Jamie Shapiro

Jamie Shapiro

Associate Professor and Co-director of the Master of Arts in Sport and Performance Psychology Program at the University of Denver

Hometown: Manalapan, NJ

Ph.D., Sport and Exercise Psychology, WVU, 2009

Portrait of Amanda Visek

Amanda J. Visek

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator of the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University

Hometown: As an Army kid, “Home is where the Army sends you.” Grew up primarily overseas in Europe between Germany and Italy before coming to the United States.

Ph.D., Sport and Exercise Psychology, WVU, 2007
M.A., Counseling, WVU, 2007
M.S., Sport Psychology, WVU, 2004

Byrd, Visek, Shapiro and Harris pose together
Byrd, Visek, Shapiro and Harris combine their areas of expertise as representatives for APA Div. 47. 

Describe your typical day


In my position, I hold three duties of teaching, research and service. I teach three courses each semester on the undergraduate and graduate levels, supervise our graduate students in their sport psychology practicum and serve as a research adviser. My service component is mostly sport psychology consulting. As a member of the University mental performance team, I consult with teams on campus and in our community. There is no "typical" day, but it usually involves a little bit of each of my three position duties. Many days, I attend practices in the morning, teach and work on research projects in the afternoon and then hold sessions or attend more practices or games in the evenings and on weekends.


I typically teach two to three graduate courses in our Sport and Exercise Psychology Program each semester, along with providing mentorship to our graduate students for their practicum and internships. I have continued to focus my research in the areas of ethics in sport psychology, burnout and youth sport, as well as chairing master's theses. As a program director and graduate program coordinator, I also oversee several administrative responsibilities for our program and graduate studies in our department. As a provisionally licensed mental health professional and CMPC, I also help coordinate and provide mental skills, training consultation and clinical services to student-athletes on campus and in the community.


As a faculty member, my schedule differs every day — which is why I love it. It might consist of teaching, faculty and student meetings, preparing for class, grading, advising or supervising students’ work in the field. And lots of emails! I’m also a contractor with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to do mental performance consulting with Paralympic athletes, so my week also includes meetings with athletes or staff of the teams I work with.


My day consists of balancing research scholarship and grant writing with applied practice, teaching and professional service endeavors. I’m currently on sabbatical through the end of the year. I’ve focused heavily on efforts to bridge science and practice. I’ve worked closely with sport National Governing Bodies (NGB) to integrate my NIH-funded research (FUN MAPS) into coach education efforts. This work includes partnering with NGBs to develop new research studies, maintaining ongoing research with Swedish Sport Federations and kicking off newly funded research studies with a ministry of sport overseas. I also serve as the establishing editor of AASP’s newest student-centered scientific journal, the Journal for Advancing Sport Psychology in Research, and commit time to mentoring students in the publication process. In addition to my academic work, I also provide mental performance services for a local women’s professional sports team.

What is your new role and vision with APA Division 47?


Junior Program Chair

Through my role on the APA executive committee, I hope to increase student involvement through student programming and student-led presentations. I also want to continue and grow the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within the division conference schedule.


President, APA Division 47: The Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology

In addition to several organizational responsibilities, the president is the representative and spokesperson of the society to the membership, public and stakeholders within the sport and performance communities. The president is also the division’s representative to the sport psychology council, which includes representatives from several other organizations with interests in sport, exercise and performance psychology. Finally, the president works to establish and maintain a collaborative relationship with the president of AASP to create shared initiatives that promote the field of sport, exercise and performance psychology. The goals and priorities for my term include the competent and ethical practice of professionals in our field, social activism for marginalized members of the sport, exercise and performance communities and the increased engagement and mentorship of students and early career professionals.


Past President, APA Division 47: The Society for Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology

I’m thrilled that I was able to host Division 47 colleagues in person in Denver for the August executive committee meetings. We networked, did team-building exercises and discussed our initiatives. My goal is to support progress on those initiatives, including creating professional practice guidelines for sport psychology, a public interest education document to educate the public about competencies and credentials in sport psychology; a mentoring program for early career professionals; and increasing diversity, equity and inclusion among the Division’s leadership, membership and initiatives.


President-Elect, APA Division 47: The Society for Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology

In concert with the Division’s long-standing vision and mission, my goal in the presidential role is to innovate the ways we currently engage in science and practice of our field, leveraging my location in Washington, D.C., home of the APA, on behalf of the Division and our membership. The COVID-19 pandemic and social and racial justice movements of the past year have brought psychology — and sport — to the forefront, with an awakened appreciation for the transference of sound science to evidence-informed practice. In this extraordinary time, it would be the ultimate privilege and exciting responsibility to lift and lead the Division’s diversity and inclusion advocacy pursuits, its contribution to scientific knowledge and its continued advancement of competent and ethical standards of practice.

American Psychological Association Logo

How did CPASS prepare you for your career?


My education with the College prepared me extremely well for the field. As a graduate student, I was able to teach and mentor undergraduate students, consult with athletes and performers and engage in research — all of which I do in my current faculty position. I felt prepared to wear many hats at once while remaining ethical and competent.


There is no doubt that my time in the Doctoral Sport and Exercise Psychology Program set the career trajectory I have the privilege of enjoying today. The faculty helped me understand that whether we are working behind the scenes or at the forefront in these different leadership roles, each is equally as important, and there are so many critical initiatives these organizations continue to take on. There is a great need for individuals to step forward and contribute time, attention and leadership to support these endeavors and advance our field. As professors Jack Watson, Ed Etzel and Sam Zizzi modeled for me, I hope to do the same for my graduate students. Plus, I was fortunate to have been taught and mentored by exceptional individuals who also modeled what it means to be a good citizen within our field by serving in leadership positions within our professional communities. 


The education and training in the doctoral Sport and Exercise Psychology Program were of extremely high quality. The coursework, supervised field experience and teaching experience as a graduate assistant helped prepare me for my roles as a faculty member and mental performance consultant. The professors also modeled and reinforced the importance of taking leadership positions in professional organizations to help advance the field of sport, exercise and performance psychology.


The doctoral program gave me a solid research-practice foundation on which to become the person and professional that I am today. I credit the autonomy I was given and the strong mentoring I received from professors Jack Watson, Sam Zizzi, Ed Etzel and Andy Ostrow.

What is your advice for students?


Take chances and have an open mind.  You never know what opportunities will lead to new ideas, directions and goals. Also, take advantage of having mentors and seek them out. Nobody does it alone.


I would always encourage students to remain curious, ask questions and be proactive in their pursuit of information and opportunities. We don't know what we don't know, so the importance of seeking out mentorship and feedback from those who have been and are currently in the field is critical to not only establishing one's professional journey, but also connecting with the many wonderful colleagues in the field. Two of the most valuable resources we can give to our organizations, the field and our students, are time and attention. I would also encourage students to get involved and start giving back early and often. 


I advise current students to think about their ideal career path and pursue the education, training and credentials that would get them there. I also advise them to be flexible and open to other possibilities of careers that they would be competently trained for. For example, I never thought I would consult with athletes with disabilities; an opportunity was presented to me that led to consulting with Paralympic athletes for the past seven years, and it has opened numerous doors for me professionally. I also advise students to get involved with professional organizations such as AASP and APA Division 47 as student representatives, apply for awards and attend and present at conferences – these professional activities have helped my career.


Have fun. Enjoy the ride in graduate school by learning as much as you can while connecting and building relationships with people. Be open and flexible to following the joy you find in the work you do. It will land you just where you want to be.

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