A West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences faculty member will continue her research efforts to improve the health of female athletes with funding support from the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program.

Dana Voelker, assistant professor in the CPASS sport and exercise psychology program, was selected as one of only four funded projects out of 99 proposals in this year’s grant pool with an award of $20,500. The grant program funds projects that will bring tangible benefits to intercollegiate athletics. Voelker’s project was co-directed with Trent Petrie, professor, Department of Psychology, University of North Texas.

“This grant provides a wonderful opportunity for Dr. Voelker to continue her research designed to promote a healthy body image among female collegiate athletes. This work is both extremely important to the health and wellbeing of these athletes, and very timely given the social pressures faced by athletes every day. This is a wonderful program that has the potential to make an important difference in the lives of many female athletes,” commented Jack Watson, professor and chair, Department of Sport Sciences at CPASS.

This year’s four winning research teams will produce work that touches a wide range of areas, including sleep health, parental involvement, body image issues and the transition from college athlete to a working life outside of sports.

“It was an honor being awarded this grant because it symbolizes the potential for CPASS, WVU, and other collaborating programs and institutions to be leaders in supporting a sport culture that embraces wellness and mental health,” Voelker explained.

The grant award will support Voelker’s work in the implementation and evaluation of Bodies-in-Motion, an evidence-based program aimed to promote healthy body image among female collegiate athletes.

“A healthy body image is linked to enhanced performance across life domains as well as improved psychosocial well-being over the lifespan, which makes body image a vital cornerstone of health and wellness,” added Voelker.

Bodies-in-Motion was piloted at WVU last year with the support of funds from CPASS and yielded promising results. Nettie Puglisi-Freshour, WVU Sports Dietician, was instrumental in getting the pilot project off the ground.

Bodies-in-Motion combines effective components of traditional interventions with a contemporary mindful self-compassion approach and consists of four experiential and discussion-based sessions.

Continuous learning is supported through participation in a growing social media network, Bodies-in-Motion FOR LIFE, which allows athletes to support each other and foster a culture of compassion and self-kindness toward themselves and their bodies both during and after the program.

According to Voelker, the award will allow the researchers to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of the program while developing the tools necessary, including a Bodies-in-Motion Program Leader Training, to offer the program within any intercollegiate athletic department.

“I am most excited that this grant award will allow us to engage with and positively support female athletes across campuses in an incredibly important way,” Voelker said.

NCAA Research Committee members, practitioners, current student-athletes and scholars representing all three NCAA divisions reviewed the 99 proposals and selected the grant awardees. The committee, which funded grants in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $39,500, expects the research will lead to programs that other colleges and universities can adopt for use on their campuses or adapt to fit local needs.

This is the third year of the program.

In addition to WVU, three other teams will present their findings in January at the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee including Utah State University, University of Arizona and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.



CONTACT: Kimberly Cameon, CPASS
304.293.0827, Kimberly.Cameon@mail.wvu.edu

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