Category Archives: Features

National evaluation study of Girls on the Run by Kinesiology professor Maureen Weiss reveals the program transforms young girls’ lives

An independent evaluation study by Maureen Weiss, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, shows that Girls on the Run, a national physical activity-based positive youth development program for elementary-age girls, has a profound and lasting positive impact on girls’ confidence, competence, connection to others, character, caring, and life skills.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that uses running as a vehicle for teaching life skills to girls in third through fifth grades. The intentional life skills curriculum and mandatory annual coach training set Girls on the Run apart from other activity programs. The three-part curriculum teaches understanding of self, valuing relationships and teamwork, and exploring one’s connection to the world.

Weiss’s study revealed that:

  • Girls on the Run participants were significantly more likely than girls in organized sport and physical education to learn and use life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions.
  • 97% of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school and with their friends
  • Girls who began the program with below-average scores dramatically improved from pre- to post-season on all outcomes—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. This shows that girls who might need a positive youth development program benefited most from their participation.
  • Girls who were the least active before Girls on the Run increased their physical activity level by 40% from pre- to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond the program’s end.

The video and the website illuminate the study findings through an interactive format. The study has also been publicized on Globe Newswire.

“Girls on the Run participants scored higher in managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions than participants in organized sport or physical education,” said Weiss.  “Being able to generalize skills learned in the program to other situations such as at school or at home is a distinguishing feature of Girls on the Run compared to traditional youth sports and school PE, and suggests that the intentional life skills curriculum and coach-training program can serve as exemplars for other youth programs.”

This study got also mentioned in The Daily Iowan.

Chinese World Champion in sailboating cruises with U.S. Olympic sailing coach, students on Lake Minnetonka

Mr. Bowers and Ms. Ziyi Wang

Ms. Ziyi Wang, participant in the 2016-17 China Champions Program (CCP) and World Champion in sailboating, spent the afternoon of May 3 enjoying her sport at the Minnetonka Yacht Club. As a bonus, she had the chance to meet and sail with U.S. National and Olympic sailing coach Gordy Bowers, who is currently head coach of the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, and Peter Wattson, president of the Minnetonka Yacht Club.

Ms. Wang was accompanied by Ms. Chunlu Wang, Olympic gold medalist in short track speed skating, and Ms. Jill Griffiths, a member of the CCP advisory board. The group also spent time sailing and interacting with high school students from the sailing school.

The China Champions Program is sponsored by the University’s School of Kinesiology, the College of Education and Human Development and the China Center.

China Champions Program celebrates third year of hosting students at Foundation Ceremony and Graduation Celebration

2016-17 China Champions
Graduates from left: Lu Xiudong, Haixia Liu, Xue Kong, Ziyi Wang, Chunlu Wang, Lin Meng, Di Mu

Participants in the third annual China Champions Program (CCP) were celebrated at their Graduation Celebration on Friday, April 28, at Burton Hall Atrium.

Six Chinese Olympic and world champion athletes and a coach enrolled in the China Champions Program (CCP) arrived last fall to attend specially designed courses in the School of Kinesiology. CCP provides academic courses, seminars, workshops and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to accomplished athletes from China as a collaborative educational project with Beijing Sport University (BSU).

This year’s participants, the third class since 2014, enjoyed a wide range of educational, cultural and social activities in addition to their formal courses, such as meeting former Vice President Walter Mondale at Regent Peggy Lucas’ home, attending all major sporting events at UMN and in the Twin Cities area, and visiting local schools to share their experiences with students.

From left: Zhang Yanyang, Rayla Allison, Meredith McQuaid, Maud Meng, Ken Bartlett, Li Li Ji, He Wenyi

At the celebration, Ms. Maud Meng, President and CEO of Infinite Media Co. Ltd. in China, presented the University of Minnesota Foundation with a gift of $100,000 to benefit the CCP. Kinesiology Director Li Li Ji met with Ms. Meng on a recent trip to China and shared the CCP’s mission and goals. “Ms. Meng pledged to provide financial support to the CCP to expand the participants’ careers and to share their skills and experiences with Chinese society,” said Ji.  Ms. Meng’s generous support also helps to advance University, CEHD and School of Kinesiology international initiatives.

Participants in this year’s China Champions Program were: Lu Xiudong, national taekwondo coach and professor at BSU; Chunlu Wang,  Xue Kong and Lin Meng, all short track speed skating Olympic gold medalists; Haixia Liu, World Champion and record holder for weightlifting; Di Mu, World Champion in bicycling; and Ziyi Wang, World Champion in sailboating.

Link to Flickr slideshow

China Champions visit 3M

On January 16 the China Champions along with associate professor Dr. Zan Gao, Ph.D got the opportunity to visit 3M, a manufacturing company in Maplewood, MN. There they heard presentations and toured 3M’s Innovation Center.

Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


China Champions visit KIN 5511 course on Sport and Gender

The 2016-17 China Champions with the KIN 5511 course.

On Tuesday, December 6, the 2016-17 China Champions visited Jo Ann Buysse, PhD’s KIN 5511 course on Sport and Gender. The athletes presented an overview of their careers to students, and discussed roles of gender in sport in China. Students heard presentations from both the athletes and coaches perspectives.

China Champions visit the National Sports Center

China Champions logoThe National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, MN, has written a blog post on the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions Program.  The post, “China Champions Visit the NSC,” details the visit and activities of the Champions at the internationally renowned amateur sports facility.

China Champions meet former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale

vice-president-mondale-visit-1The 2016-17 China Champions were introduced to former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale last evening at an event hosted by Peggy Lucas, member of the U of M Board of Regents and a supporter of the China Champions program. Mr. Mondale met each athlete individually and discussed his work in opening diplomatic doors to China and his many visits to the country.

Also attending the event were School of Kinesiology director Li Li Ji, Ph.D., and associate director Rayla Allison, J.D.

Mr. Mondale also served as a U.S. senator representing Minnesota and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton from 1993-1996.

Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


Dean’s reception held for third cohort of China Champions Program

Regent Michael Hui (second from left, back row) attended the event as did Sr. Associate Dean, Ken Bartlett.

On Monday, October 24, the College of Education and Human Development hosted the Dean’s reception for the elite Chinese athletes and coach. Regent Michael Hui and Sr. Associate Dean Ken Bartlett welcomed the third cohort of the China Champions program.

Led by the School of Kinesiology, in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


2016-17 China Champions arrive at the University of Minnesota

The School of Kinesiology welcomes this year’s China Champions, the third cohort of Chinese world-class athletes to experience a year of study at the University of Minnesota. This year’s students include three speed skaters, a weightlifter, an ice dancer, a sailor, a bicyclist and a taekwondo coach.  Most of the athletes have completed their competitive careers and now work in the China Sport Administration or are coaches.

During the year, the China Champions will attend specially designed courses in the School of Kinesiology, including academic seminars, workshops, and classes in English as a Learned Language. Athletes will also visit Minnesota cultural sites and become familiar with the Twin Cities. The China Champions are available to visit classes around the U and  share their personal experiences in training and achieving elite world championship status in their sport.

The University of Minnesota hosts the annual China Champions Program (CCP) to foster an exchange of culture, education and sport. Led by the School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the China Scholarship Council, CCP is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.

chinese-consulate-gathering China Champions hosted by the School of Kinesiology at a welcome dinner at the Tea House restaurant.





tea-house-welcome-dinnerReception in Minneapolis for the General Consulate of China, where the China Champions were recognized.


U of M expands relationship with China, planning dual-degree sport management master’s program with Shanghai Jiao Tong University

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Monday between the University of Minnesota and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), symbolizing a mutual commitment to collaboration, which will include a dual-degree sport management master’s program housed in both the School of Kinesiology and SJTU’s Department of Physical Education.

Hanson, Xu signing the MOU between the U of MN and SJTU
Hanson, Xu signing the MOU between the U of MN and SJTU

SJTU Vice President Lisa Xu and U of M Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson are pictured signing the MOU that will create an exchange program between the School of Kinesiology’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) sport management program and graduate students at SJTU.

The School of Kinesiology has a long-standing relationship with higher education institutions in China, including initiating the China Champions Program and running the American Cultural Center for Sport at Tianjin University of Sport.

Learn more about our unique practitioner-oriented sport management master of education (M.Ed.) program.

Calhoun interviewed in KARE-11 story on Gopher women’s hockey team

AustinAustin Stair Calhoun, Ph.D., Kinesiology alumna (2014) and director of Kinesiology’s eLearning and Digital Strategy, was interviewed for a KARE-11 story on the Gopher women’s hockey team, which won the 2016 NC Women’s  Ice Hockey championship last week in a game that was not televised. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton tried to get the game broadcast on CBS, but the organization declined.

Calhoun commented, “It’s a complicated time because while we are seeing participation levels rise for women and girls in sport, we see stagnation and in some cases a downturn in the amount of coverage that women and girls in sport receive.”

Calhoun is also an affiliated scholar with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.

For the full story, go to this link.


Ph.D. candidate Jessica Holst-Wolf featured on CEHD homepage

Jessica-Hoist-Wolf-6778Kinesiology Ph.D. candidate Jessica Holst-Wolf is featured in Connect and on the CEHD home page in a story titled, “Engineer for Health.” Jessica’s emphasis is biomechanics and she is advised by Jűrgen Konczak, Ph.D.  Read her story here

China Champions acclimate to U.S. education, culture with help of volunteers

ccp-wordmarkThe U of M’s China Champions Program, a year-long educational and cultural immersion experience administered through the School of Kinesiology, is in its second successful year, and program coordinators are continually working to enhance participants’ time here. The eight Chinese Olympic athletes and coach who arrived this month will be given more practical experiences to ease their transition, and time with one-on-one volunteers who will help them with language skills and introduce them to U.S. culture –including a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Read the Minnesota Daily story here.

U of M welcomes elite Chinese athletes and coach to Twin Cities for second cohort of China Champions Program

wordmark-umn-china-championsTo foster an exchange of culture, education and sport, the University of Minnesota will host eight Chinese Olympic and world champion athletes and one Olympic-level coach as part of the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions Program (CCP), arriving today, Wednesday, November 4, in the afternoon. This is the second year of the unique program. Biographies for each Champion are available here.

Led by the School of Kinesiology, in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, CCP is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.

“This partnership offers the chance for visiting athletes and many at the University to engage, teach and enhance learning from each other,” said Li Li Ji, Ph.D., director of the School of Kinesiology and founder of the China Champions Program . “Our goal is to ensure all involved gain insight and appreciation for the cultures in each country and harness that knowledge to benefit our world.”

During the next year, participants will attend specially designed courses in the School of Kinesiology, including academic seminars, workshops and English as a Learned Language classes. Beyond the classroom, athletes will visit Minnesota cultural sites and become acclimated with the Twin Cities area, as well as take tours of University and local professional sports team’s stadiums, arenas and training facilities.

University partners with the School of Kinesiology include the University of Minnesota China Center, the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance), and the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

“Globalization and internationalization are an important part of CEHD’s mission of applying principles and practices of multiculturalism to advance teaching and learning,” said CEHD Dean Jean Quam. “As we welcome another cohort of the CCP, we extend and promote this unique two-way discovery between our students, faculty, staff, and community and elite Chinese athletes.”

Local business and government leaders will also meet with the athletes to give them a behind-the-scenes look into international corporations, government and the American culture.  Each of the Chinese participants are continuing their education as part of a master’s level graduate program with Beijing Sport University, the top sport university in China.

“Entering year two of this program, we are excited to continue to use sport to bridge cultures,” said Rayla Allison, associate director of the School of Kinesiology and executive director of the China Champions Program. “Last year’s program was a great success by all measures due to engagement and support of the College of Education and Human Development and Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, plus the numerous volunteers and community members who so graciously championed the program.”

Kinesiology alum takes students all the way to the Super Bowl

Kinesiocampisi_charles050213_sk001weblogy alumnus Charles Campisi (Ph.D., 2013) is an assistant professor of sport management at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, OH, a suburb of Cleveland. And while the Cleveland Brown’s FirstEnergy stadium has yet to host a Super Bowl, for the past four years Dr. Campisi has given a group of lucky undergraduates the unforgettable experience of working behind the scenes at the NFL’s biggest Game Day of the year.

Dr. Campisi has taken about 30 students each year to Super Bowls in New Orleans, East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Glendale, Arizona. This year they will go to Santa Clara, CA for Super Bowl 50. Students take a class, History of the Super Bowl, where they learn about the organizational support and planning required for major sports events, then apply their new skills to events and activities during the four days leading up to the Super Bowl and on game day.

Read more about Dr. Campisi’s unique experiences for undergraduates here. His doctoral adviser was Lisa Kihl, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology.


School of Kinesiology faculty, staff present at the 2015 MN eLearning Summit

Calhoun (back row), Lupinek, Magnuson, Hoffman (left to right)

Four School of Kinesiology faculty and staff gave a panel presentation at the 2015 MN eLearning Summit held July 29-30 at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

Austin Calhoun, Ph.D. (Director, eLearning & Digital Strategy), Brandi Hoffman (Director, Physical Activity Program), Joshua Lupinek, Ph.D. (recent graduate), and Connie Magnuson, Ph.D. (Director, Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program) lead a panel discussion on Kickstart Open Lab, the School’s incentivized, project-based approach to eLearning exploration, adoption, and implementation.

The presentation, “Kickstart Open Lab: An Experiment in Incentivizing, Enhancing Teaching and Learning, and Diffusing Technology,” explored the versatile and unique program developed and implemented at the School of Kinesiology.

Slides from the presentation are available here.

The MN eLearning Summit is the premiere event of the Minnesota Learning Commons and is a gathering place for K-12, college, and university educators and innovators in the Midwest who are committed to effective online and blended learning.


Ji, Hoffman travel to Chinese universities to help promote physical activity programs

A delegation of physical activity directors led by Dr. Li Li Ji, director of the School of Group panelKinesiology,  visited four universities in China this month to share strategies for promoting physical fitness among university students.  The American Culture Center (ACC) in Sports delegation included Ms. Brandi Hoffman from Kinesiology, director of the Physical Activity Program at the U of M; Ms. Carrie Sampson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Dr. Bridget Melton of Georgia Brandi presentingSouthern University. The delegation visited campus sport facilities and physical education classes at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Zhejiang University, Shanxi Normal University, and Tianjin University of Sport. The group  presented lectures on their programs, sharing successful strategies as well as challenges, and learned how their Chinese colleagues conducted their programs.

“Declines in student health and fitness is a major concern among Chinese universities due to increased academic pressure,” said Vice-president Xu Xueming of SJTU at the USA-China Physical Education Forum. “We should learn from the U.S. and others to strengthen physical education classes to reverse the trend.”

The visits generated renewed interest and publicity at the Chinese universities, said Dr. Ji. ACC is a program supported by a U.S. State Department grant to promote public diplomacy in China. During the trip, Dr. Ji also attended the annual ACC Exchange Conference held in Xian, where all ACC representatives in China met with the new Ambassador to China to share information about their activities during the past year.

Ross interviewed by ABC5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on future of Minnesota United

Stephen Ross, Ph.D.Stephen Ross, associate professor and director of undergraduate programs, was interviewed by ABC 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on the future of Major League Soccer (MLS) team Minnesota United.

Though Minnesota United has been recently awarded an MLS franchise, Dr. Ross stated that “whether there is a public-private partnership, or if the owners fund the new soccer stadium themselves, it has to be a concrete financial deal , or the MLS will move to another city.” Ultimately, “if the funding mechanism is not in place, at some point, the MLS will separate themselves from the Wilfs and the new Vikings stadium.”

In the interview, Ross observed that MLS could leave Minneapolis before playing one game here, if the funding package does not come through.

Hoffman, Maples present at 2015 Tate Conference

Brandi Hoffman (Director of the Physical Activity and Academic, Personal, and Professional Success Programs) and Alyssa Maples (Academic Advisor) presented at the 2015 Tate Conference . Hoffman and Maples were joined by CEHD advisor Don Riley in their presentation, “Toolkit for Success: Developing Academic, Personal, and Professional Success at the U of M.”

The CEHD APPS program was developed 18109_10152645357032441_1611673479307362286_nand launched by Hoffman, with Riley and Maples as regular instructors. The program features 1-credit courses, ranging in topic from effective interviewing to preparing for graduate school, all focused on student success now and after graduation.

The Tate Conference is an annual professional development opportunity for advisors and student service professionals and an occasion to celebrate the role of advising on all University of Minnesota campuses.


Football Hall-of-Famer finishes coursework in RPLS program, fulfilling his father’s life-long dream

Bobby Bell is a member of the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame, he won a Rose Bowl title at the U of M (1960) and a Super Bowl Championship as a Kansas City Chief (1969)—and as of last week, he is also a proud alumnus of the School of Kinesiology’s Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (RPLS) B.S. program at the age of 74.

Bell was motivated to finish his degree to honor his late father, who had always stressed education, despite humble beginnings.

“My father always said sports and education were things where blacks could compete equally with whites — if given the chance,” Bell said.

Connie Magnuson, Ph.D., RPLS program director, remarks on Bell’s accomplishments, which include a directed study where he created a youth football training manual and conducted a youth football camp in Kansas.

“It really is a big deal. He is a wonderful, remarkable man,” Magnuson said. “I have truly enjoyed working with him to complete this lifelong dream. He worked for it and most certainly earned this degree.”

Bell’s story is detailed in several newspapers, including The New York TimesHe will walk in the College of Education and Human Development’s graduation ceremony in May 2015.