Tarleton School of Kinesiology celebrates its centenary

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STEPHENVILLE – The School of Kinesiology at Tarleton State University, part of the College of Education and Human Development, celebrates 100 years of preparing students for the workforce at Saturday’s Texans football game with the Highlands of New Mexico.

Tarleton’s iconic fireplace will be lit to mark the occasion. The celebration will include pre-game and playtime activities, and the School of Kinesiology will be recognized in a video series featuring alumni and faculty.

“It’s really cool to think of something that has lasted this long,” said Professor Regents Steve Simpson. “That is not to mention the number of people who have taken the program. “

“That kind of longevity shows that we’ve had really good leadership,” said Dr. Matt Laurent, acting associate dean of the school. “We’re relevant – we prepare professionals to step into the real world and do great things. This shows, as a discipline, that we are adaptable and meet the demands of the profession.

By 1905, when the university was still a two-year college, students were already enrolled in physical training classes. In 1921, these classes officially became the physical training department, obtaining their first students in 1923. The name of the department has changed over the years, to physical education, exercise science and sports studies, and finally, in 2018, in the School of Kinesiology.

For most of the 100 years of the program, the instructors were primarily coaches. In fact, until 2013 all of Tarleton’s coaches were also teaching in the department.

The program moved to Wisdom Gym in 1970, when the building was completed with the help of some hard-working department employees. Back then, faculty members were paid nine months a year, leaving some to scramble for summer paychecks.

Dr. Joe Gillespie joined his colleagues in the Department of Physical Education to help erect the gymnasium. He was a teacher, coach, athletic director and department head during his 44 years at Tarleton. He retired in 2017.

“These men weren’t just fundamental in the sense of teaching and coaching during this time,” said Dr Kayla Peak, former associate dean of the School of Kinesiology and currently acting dean of the College of Sciences of Kinesiology. health and social services. “They were also the builders of the physical structure.”

A century after the creation of the Physical Training Department, the School of Kinesiology has more than 1,000 students, divided almost equally between paramedical majors and sports-related majors.

“About 50% of our students are studying to become physiotherapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, physicians and chiropractors,” said Peak. “They also focus on athletic training or strength and conditioning. The other half of our specializations are in sports management, sports administration, training and recreation. “

The importance of this milestone is not lost on longtime Tarleton professors.

“This is a momentous opportunity to have survived the name changes from old ‘physical education’ to more recent times known as kinesiology,” said Dr Joe Priest, professor at Tarleton for 30 years. and director of the laboratory for well-being and motor behavior. .

“It’s a fun job. We are growing. We prepare our students for everything from running a fitness center to medical school.

To mark 100 means a lot to those who have invested their careers in kinesiology.

“It’s about legacy,” Peak said. “We go back to 1905 when we first started offering physical training classes, so the legacy of faculty and students has led us to continue on the basis of what these instructors and students have built. “

During its first century, the department, now a school, experienced a number of firsts that are crucial to Tarleton’s history.

The first African American student to graduate from Tarleton was Sherman Perry, a kinesiology student. A member of the Tarleton Track and Field Hall of Fame, he was also the first African American to be employed full time on campus. He was a basketball coach and physical education instructor.

The first person to complete a graduate thesis project at Tarleton was Darren Willoughby, also a kinesiology graduate.

Find out more about the School of Kinesiology at www.tarleton.edu/kinesiology/index.html.


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