It’s the last week of June and about 40 high school students from throughout Fresno Unified School District have gathered at Fresno State’s North and South Gyms to take part in the Sports Science Camp. Although it is the middle of summer break, these students are excited to be on campus to learn about the programs offered through the University’s Department of Kinesiology.
For the next five days, they will learn about four core areas encompassing the Kinesiology field, including athletic training, physical education, sport psychology and exercise science. Each session is taught by kinesiology students and includes hands-on learning and interactive activities.
This is the first time the camp has taken place and it was all part of a collaborative effort by the Central California Sports Science Institute and the Department of Kinesiology at Fresno State, along with Fresno Unified School District, to introduce students to college.
“The aim of this camp is to engage the local high school students from Fresno Unified School District and expose them to the college campus and the field of kinesiology and let them know that college is a possibility in their future,” said Dr. Luke Pryor, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and director of elite athlete performance with the Sports Science Institute. “Hopefully they are excited enough by this week and the activities that they are a part of, that they will want to further their education, and hopefully our department will be part of that process.”
Many of the FUSD students are currently affiliated with health-related pathways and academies at their respective schools, and many have expressed interest in a sports-related career in the future.
Edison High School junior Kavan Anderson plans to major in kinesiology, with an option in athletic training, when he gets to college and said this camp was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the field.
“This camp shows me the different classes and courses, and what I need to prepare for, to become a personal trainer or athletic trainer in the future,” Anderson said.
For junior Elizabeth Souvannarath, of Sunnyside High School, the camp offered a great experience to learn about how sports and medical science is combined, as it aligns with her future career goals.
“In the future, I was thinking about teaching a medical program for high schools, and this is a great way because now I can experience a classroom setting, but also a medical/physical setting at the same time,” said Souvannarath.
In the Human Performance Lab in South Gym, graduate students Alex Gregory and Samantha Braxton are showing students the ins and outs of the exercise science field through a series of activities that include physical performance testing and biomechanics.
One by one, each student in the class jumps on a bench in succession, as their fellow students look on and shout words of encouragement. This activity is meant to show them some of the labs available to them in college, including those centered around muscular endurance and strength.
“I really want to teach younger kids about exercise science because I didn’t know about it when I was in high school, and I just really want them to know that it’s a fun career field,” said Gregory. “I think it’s important to teach kids about kinesiology because it has to do a lot with exercise. I really hope they come to Fresno State because the bigger our department become, the more we can do for our school.”
Across the way in North Gym’s newly renovated athletic training lab, undergraduate students are showing students injury prevention techniques important to the profession, including basic ankle taping, wrapping and bracing skills. After giving a brief demonstration, the students were released into pairs to implement their new skill.
With careful precision and looks of determination on their faces, students wrap their partners’ ankle while the Fresno State students look on and provide guidance.
“My favorite part of the camp was the athletic training portion because it’s something I want to do in my future, and it really shows me how much it takes to become an athletic trainer and how to work in different situations,” said Ana Sanchez, a junior at Duncan Polytechnical High School.
Outside, campers brave the 100 degree heat to engage in cooperative and nontraditional games that teach them elements of teamwork and communication. Led by kinesiology senior, Angela Bernardino, the activities serve as an introduction to the theory and practice of the physical education field.
“These cooperative games got them to be more social and comfortable with each other,” Bernardino said. “And these nontraditional games challenge them with their cognitive and motor skills, as well as fitness. This is my first time teaching high school students and it’s been a great experience.”
Back in the South Gym, a group of student have their arms interlocked and proceed to pull themselves up from ground to standing position. This activity, acclimated towards team work, mental sharpness, leadership and physical activity are important factors in the area of sport psychology.
“We focused on how to use your mental skills to achieve performance-based tasks, and these skills can be applied to school, sports or their career,” said Ivan Macias, a graduate student studying sport psychology. “I hope these kids soak up some of the information we gave them, take it for the last few years of high school, and ultimately really consider going to college and exercising that health science pathway they wish to continue with.”
Allowing the FUSD students to know about the different career options within health and kinesiology was an important aspect of this camp, along with learning from students in the field, said Jeff DeLong, a work-based learning coordinator with the College and Career Readiness program at Fresno Unified.
“Fresno State has one of the best kinesiology programs, if not the best program, in the country and it’s right here in their backyard,” DeLong said. “Having the Fresno State graduate and undergraduate students being the one to put it on, really shows the relevance to the students and the kids really respond to that. Seeing the interaction between the Fresno State students and our FUSD students is fantastic.”
Many students at the camp stated that the Sports Science Camp was a beneficial learning experience for them. Tommy Llamas, a recent McLane High School graduate says he now realizes that his career options and the path to get there are varied.
“I would like to be a physical therapist and this camp has shown me what steps I need to take in order to get to there,” Llamas said. “It has also shown me what other routes I can take if studying athletic training does not work out for me. For example, I can go into exercise science or sports medicine and then become a physical therapist later on.”
Camp partners hope this will be a multi-year event, with the goal of consistently increasing student participation at each camp, while creating an excellent learning experience that will encourage youth to ultimately pursue higher education.
For more information on the Sports Science Camp, contact Dr. Luke Pryor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559.278.2990.