Jose María López-Gullón, a visiting scholar from the University of Murcia, Spain, will spend the next four months collaborating with Gonzalo Bravo, associate professor in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, examining the role of volunteers in amateur sport organizations.
Initially, Bravo and López-Gullón planned to study volunteers within medium-sized sport events, but then they decided to examine volunteers serving in amateur sport organizations. This shift was in part due to the lack of access to sport events due to COVID. Additionally, the decision was influenced by a casual observation López-Gullón encountered during his first month in Morgantown.
“When I was invited to assist the wrestling team at Suncrest Middle, I found it fascinating to know that parents play a huge role in supporting interscholastic sports,” López-Gullón said.
“So, instead of examining volunteers in episodic events, we shifted the focus to volunteers who serve more permanently in amateur sport organizations,” Bravo said.
Bravo and López-Gullón will be collecting data in the United States and Spain. They will target amateur sport organizations like high schools, YMCAs and other organizations that are served by volunteers.
“Dr. López-Gullón brings a wealth of experience in working with amateur and grassroots sport organizations. Recently, Dr. López-Gullón was awarded a $500,000 grant from the European Union to organize a sport festival in the city of San Javier in southern Spain in 2023,” Bravo said. “The festival, which targets primarily grassroots amateur athletes, will have the main purpose to create awareness for cancer.”
Throughout his professional career, López-Gullón has served multiple roles in academia and as a public sport administrator and coach in the Mediterranean city of San Javier, where the School of Sport Sciences of the University of Murcia is located.
Currently, he acts as a fulltime faculty in the sport management program at the University of Murcia and is a successful Olympic wrestling coach. His involvement with wrestling has taken him to travel internationally as a head coach, representing teams from the region of Murcia and national team of Spain.
López-Gullón’s sabbatical at West Virginia University is possible through a grant he received from the Seneca Foundation, the Science and Technology Agency of the Region of Murcia in Spain.