Sean Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
John F. Kennedy University
As a young academic, I have been fortunate to interview or speak with a number of individuals who are considering graduate training in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Most come from psychology undergraduate programs and were athletes in high school or college. Many prospective consultants find the field in a happenstance manner: they were looking for additional units to take and found a Sport and Exercise Psychology elective (this is seemingly the story of most students); they had a professor, mentor, or other trusted advisor suggest the field (a handful of students); they were an athlete and had interactions with a Sport Psychology professional (this group is seemingly growing); or they found the field through a random internet search of their interests, which included sport and/or psychology (a surprisingly large number). Regardless of how one finds the field, most decide to pursue training because they have a passion for sport and are searching for a way to continue to be involved with it. I too was this student. I was an athlete (very loosely defined). I loved sport, and I knew I wanted to stick around it. Therefore, I choose Sport and Exercise Psychology as my major, not knowing what it really was.
Just as many find the larger field of Sport and Exercise Psychology in a happenstance manner, once in the field, many future professionals happen upon the Exercise Psychology specialty in a similar fashion. Again, I was one of those individuals. I took my first Exercise Psychology class as a junior - and only because it was required. Within just a few weeks, I was hooked. The question of why some individuals exercise and some do not fascinated me. From that day forward, while I still was passionate about Sport Psychology, I knew it was Exercise Psychology that would become my main focus. I have seen classmates take the same exact path after their first taste of work within the Exercise Psychology realm, and I have taught, supervised, and mentored students who have followed suit. For many within our field, just one exposure to an Exercise Psychology class or consulting experience is all it takes to become captivated.
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