As a lifelong athlete, Rebekah Weimer knows the ins and outs of the sports world – and now, she has an even deeper understanding. This month, Weimer will earn her master’s degree in kinesiology, with an emphasis in sport psychology. Along with that hard-earned degree and perfect 4.0 GPA is her distinction as a graduate dean’s medalist for the College of Health and Human Services.
“This whole process has been so surreal,” Weimer said of her recognition. “I am very honored and touched by this whole experience.”
Weimer, a Fresno native, began her higher education journey at U.C. Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in human development. She returned home to Fresno to pursue graduate school after learning about the Department of Kinesiology’s sport psychology program. She said the intricacies of the program, combined with her knowledge in psychology and cognitive science, is what attracted her to Fresno State.
She began the graduate program in fall 2019 right before courses went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While collecting data for her thesis and conducting her study, Weimer was forced to shift gears many times, utilizing intervention sessions via zoom.
“We explored this format for a bit, which was not ideal, and I had to push my data collection back by two months, but once I was able to get back on the field, it was so exciting,” Weimer said. “I was finally able to work with these great athletes and conduct the research I’ve been wanting to do this whole time. We had to be flexible, but persistent.”
Weimer’s passion for athletics and experience as a student-athlete, led to her case study, which involved teaching mental skills to a community college soccer team. In her study, Weimer investigated the extent to which the athletes could learn specific mental skills while training and during a specific performance (in this case, juggling).
To facilitate this process, Weimer developed a multi-skill intervention emphasizing goal setting, self-talk and imagery. Weimer presented her thesis at the Central California Research Symposium at Fresno State and represented the University at the CSU Student Research Competition. She hopes to present her thesis at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology annual conference in October of 2022.
Next up on Weimer’s long list of goals is becoming a certified mental performance consultant, which requires 400 supervised consulting hours. To get started on this endeavor, Weimer joined a weekly sport psychology consulting group, organized by Dr. Jenelle Gilbert, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Weimer’s thesis chair.
Through that experience, Weimer worked closely with a youth soccer athlete, as well as two different collegiate sports teams at Fresno State, in addition to individual athletes. As their consultant, she helped the teams advance their mental performance, while paying close attention to clinical issues, such as anxiety and depression – both issues prevalent among athletes.
“As a former student-athlete, I understand the stress coaches put on athletes and also the stress athletes put on themselves,” Weimer said. “While I was a collegiate student-athlete, I wished I had a mental health advocate or sport psychologist to guide me through that. I think as an outsider looking in, you see student-athletes and think they have it all figured out, but in my experience, they put a lot of pressure on themselves because of the many expectations placed on them.”
Weimer’s future in the field is already exemplary, according to Gilbert.
“Rebekah displays empathy and challenges the athletes to reflect on their mental game and how they can improve” Gilbert said. “She is professional, attentive to details, and makes the people with whom she is working very comfortable.”
In addition to her consulting work with Fresno State Athletics, Weimer was also involved with the campus in other ways. She served as a teaching assistant for two Kinesiology Activity Courses, in elementary strength training and soccer, and also works for Fresno State Student Housing as its resident director, where she ensures a safe and secure environment for her fellow students.
Weimer’s connection to Fresno State spans multiple generations. Her parents also graduated from the University and even met in the housing unit right next to where Weimer currently resides.
“I’ve grown up gravitating towards becoming a bulldog and attending Fresno State athletic games,” Weimer said. “So to now assist student-athletes as a graduate student has been really amazing. It’s a full circle moment.”
A lifelong learner, Weimer intends to continue her studies by pursuing a second master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling at Fresno State, with the ultimate goal of utilizing her knowledge and expertise to continue helping athletes in mind, body and spirit.
Of her future career, Weimer has brief, but wise, words:
“If you find something you’re passionate about, you should go for it.”
Rebekah Weimer was selected as the College of Health and Human Services’ Graduate Dean’s Medalist and is a candidate for the University Graduate Medalist award, which is the highest honor the University presents to a graduate student. The University Graduate Medalist is selected from the nine graduate Dean’s Medalists who represent the academic colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs. The awardee will be announced May 19, 2022.