The Green Bay Packers have turned to another great team to help them prepare for Super Bowl XLV.

West Virginia University alumnus Kevin Elko, who earned multiple degrees and is a member of two of the school’s Halls of Fame, will deliver a pre-game motivational speech to the Packers Saturday night. They play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium Sunday.

A Brownsville, Pa., native, Elko is a frequent consultant to pro and college teams, coaches and players along with businesses, and is a regular guest on Chris Mortensen’s ESPN “Mort Report.” He developed a relationship with Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy during the regular season after Green Bay’s upset loss to the Detroit Lions Dec. 12.

Elko’s relationship with WVU has deeper roots. A member of WVU’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Hall of Fame and its College of Human Resources and Education Hall of Fame, Elko turned to his alma mater for help with his Super Bowl message. Ian Connole, Jesse Michel, Pete Kadushin and Olivier Schmid, who are earning doctorates in sport and exercise psychology and masters’ degrees in counseling, participated in several brain-storming sessions to help Elko shape his message. Obtaining a master’s in counseling is a component to the CPASS doctorate.

“Those guys have been great; they know their stuff,” Elko said.

Elko said collaborating with the students provided a refreshing perspective. Although he has extensive experience in public speaking and crafting motivational messages, the students’ ideas were forged from the latest sport and exercise psychology publications, trends and research. The students’ input was invaluable to his speech, Elko said, but not a surprise. Elko said WVU is recognized as a national leader in sport and exercise psychology training.

“What you find across the country is that certain schools are strong in certain things – like Harvard Law is known as the premier law school,” Elko said. “WVU is one of the leaders in the country and is well-known around the country in sport psychology. (College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Dean) Dana Brooks has really focused on developing the program and has made it special.”

Ed Jacobs, an associate professor and coordinator of counselor education in WVU’s College of Human Resources and Education, connected Elko with the students and is a close friend and mentor to his former student. Elko said Jacobs is a frequent sounding board for his ideas and a valuable colleague.

Rather than a traditional locker room rant designed to prime the players’ adrenaline, Elko’s speech will be geared more to calming the players and making sure their minds are focused on performance and team goals. While the pressure around them is too intense to ignore, it should not be overwhelming or distracting. One successful method Elko has used is forming sound bites and mental cues – like mantras—in the players’ minds that they can refer back to during the game.

He said Packers’ players responded well to his suggestions after the Lions loss.

“Coach (McCarthy) said the players loved it,” Elko said. “They were chanting the stuff after I left. One thing the Packers did is not suffer from traumatic faith syndrome – they kept having faith after their loss.”

On the field, WVU will also have some influence. Ryan Mundy, a backup safety and special teams contributor for the Steelers, played one year for the Mountaineers after transferring from Michigan.



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