Majors: Health, exercise, and sport studies
Seniors James Baker and Peter McManus don’t have a ton of experience with baseball. In fact, the last time either of them played, they were under five-feet and required a chauffeur. Yet, thanks to their work over the past three years with Heath, Exercise, and Sport Studies (HESS) Professor Eric Winters and Physics and Astronomy Professors Steven Doty and Melanie Lott, they are changing the game.
Using technology similar to the body-mapping in Hollywood films like Avatar, the research group of professors and students monitor the neuromechanics of local youth baseball players as they throw. Their goal is to help athletes use their bodies more efficiently, and therefore avoid common shoulder and elbow injuries.
For Baker and McManus, this opportunity is the epitome of the customization they’ve found in the heath, exercise, and sport studies major, and why it has been the right fit for them.
You are a part of the first class to complete the HESS program. How do you describe the major?
McManus: HESS is the revamping of the athletic training major with a liberal arts twist. Since athletic training requires graduate-level work, Denison has broadened the major to serve everyone interested in studying the human body.
Baker: I actually committed to Denison on the promise of the HESS major. I liked that it provides a broad look at health science. You can make it your own.
So it’s a broad major. How do you hone in on your specific interests?
Baker: Each professor has their own area of expertise, and I think Denison students and teachers are really good at connecting. So, you learn your professors’ interests and career paths. Then, their advice and direction can help you specialize.
McManus: Also, the three core classes study the history of sports, fundamentals of health and exercise, and anatomy—and the structure of the major allows students to take a variety of classes ranging from different areas of expertise. This structure helps students identify their interests and specify from there.
What are your favorite HESS classes?
McManus: Therapeutic Modalities and Therapeutic Exercise. I plan on studying physical therapy in graduate school, so these courses reinforced my interest in patient care and rehabilitation.
Baker: Exercise Physiology, which studies the body and its ability to adapt during exercise. I even loved that final. It helped me realize that I want to go on to a research program for exercise science.