Dr. Michael Hemphill and Dr. Erin Reifsteck are two of the EdD in KIN program’s newest faculty members. After sitting down with them it’s no wonder that they are so well liked by their peers and students. Their commitment to student success and passion for applied research is deeply evident and a common theme from where they started and how they ended up here.
Tell me more about of your background? What were some of your career goals
Michael: Originally I wanted to work for the NBA, I had an internship with the charlotte bobcats, as a video coordinator. I would code video and have to make a three minute clip by half time to show the players in the locker room. It was fun, but I realized I didn’t want to work in professional sports. Meanwhile, I was doing my undergraduate work at Wingate and had been working with at risk youth with a university outreach program. That led to an internship with SHAPE America, the president of SHAPE was Tom Templin who later became my advisor at Purdue University.
Erin: I went to St. Francis University where I majored in psychology and also played Division I field hockey. While pursuing my studies as a student-athlete I discovered that there was a world where both of my passions could be mixed in the field of sport psychology. I wrote an undergraduate honors thesis and actually used a survey that Dr. Gill had developed- which is partly how I came to know about UNCG. While exploring options for grad school, I visited UNCG and felt very connected to the program and the people here. Like many young graduate students in our field, I thought someday I would become a sport psychologist who worked with elite athletes. But,I really liked research, especially applied research, and I eventually completed my masters and PhD in kinesiology/ sport and exercise psychology at UNCG and then later a post-doc with the Institute to Promote Athlete Health and Wellness in the public health education department.
Tell me more about your current research.
Michael: One project I am currently involved is The New Zealand Project. It focuses on teaching social responsibility through sports. New Zealand is the leader in restorative justice practices, the idea of solving problems in a restorative manner. New Zealand is a great example for us. Many of their institutions are built around the foundations of restorative justice, their youth justice system, their schools, but it has not penetrated sports. Sports has its own set of rules and New Zealand is looking at ways to change that. What Tom Martinek and I are looking to gain and apply back home is using sports as a starting ground for implementing restorative justice practices here in the United States. Sports provides a low risk opportunity to practice these things on a daily basis. Our goal is to develop a model that can be implemented throughout different communities.
Erin: My current research focuses on promoting physical activity and health-related behaviors through sport and life transitions. Our team developed the Moving On! program, which supports student-athletes in making healthy transitions out of college sports. I enjoy doing this kind of applied research, which involves translating psychosocial theories into evidence-based programming. The Moving On! program provides educational resources for collegiate student athletes as they graduate and “move on” from college. We received funding from the NCAA in 2015 and 2016 to help develop the program and make it adaptable for other institutions. The applied nature of this research has been a good fit for working with EdD students. For example, Mindy Smith (2015 cohort) is pursuing a dissertation on similar issues and was able to complete an independent study with me on this topic where she implemented and evaluated the program at the institution where she works.
Has the EdD program aligned well with your current career goals?
Erin: I think my goals fit really well with the EdD in KIN program’s philosophy, especially the focus on translation of research into professional practice.
Michael: Yeah, the idea behind restorative justice program is to empower coaches, teachers, and working professionals and the EdD program does exactly that.
How has your first year been? What has been difficult?
Erin: The first year was both exciting and challenging. We’ve been learning the ropes of a new program while trying to figure out how to best meet the needs of students with diverse interests.
Michael: It’s a unique new program and being able to shape a program is exciting but there’s work in figuring out best practices. But I love it and I love getting to know the students. They all come from various backgrounds which provides opportunities to interdisciplinary learning.
Erin: I love when students find a meaningful topic within their professional field and are able to move from course work to immediate impact.
Michael: The first year was very collaborative, and I benefited greatly, working in a community and not being isolated.
Erin: Yes I feel like the department and the university as a whole really supports new faculty and provides us with the tools to be successful.