Colby-Sawyer College will host its 25th Annual Exercise and Sport Sciences & Athletics Symposium, “Exploring Perspectives on Sport Specialization,” on Monday, March 6, in Wheeler Hall at the Ware Student Center from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The symposium will feature presentations by industry experts on long-term athletic development, early sports specialization in children, and peak adolescent sport performance, followed by a question and answer session and lunch. The free event is open to the public and reservations are required; lunch with presenters and faculty following the symposium is available for $7.32 in the dining hall. For more information and reservations, contact Terri Hermann at 603.526.3616 or

The annual symposium is an educational networking event popular among sport science professionals, athletic directors, coaches and students from across the region. “We are honored and privileged to host a symposium that attendees feel is worthwhile to their professional development,” said Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences Stacey Watts, the 2017 symposium director. “The nearly 200 students, educators, coaches and athletic administrators from around New England, many of whom return each year, speak to the symposium’s incredible success, and we look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence for years to come.”

2017 Event Highlights

This year’s first session, “The 10 Pillars of Long-Term Athletic Development,” begins at 8:40 a.m. with Rick Howard, M.Ed., CSCS, *D, USAW, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) mid-Atlantic coordinator and chair of the NSCA State and Provincial Director Program. Howard presents on youth fitness topics throughout the U.S. and internationally. He writes and co-writes journal articles and position statements on youth training, contributes a column for NSCA Coach journal, and was special feature editor for the NSCA’s Strength and Conditioning Journal. Howard is pursuing his doctoral degree from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Health Promotion and Wellness. He is an adjunct instructor at West Chester University, Temple University, Rowan University and Delaware State University, director of fitness and sports performance at the Wilmington Country Club, and is a novice strongman competitor.

At 9:50 a.m., Thomas Rowland, M.D., will present “Early Sports Specialization in Children: Is There Science Behind the Debate?” Dr. Rowland, director of pediatric cardiology at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and adjunct professor of exercise science at the University of Massachusetts, is an expert in developmental exercise physiology, the effects of lifestyle on cardiovascular function in children, iron deficiency in adolescent athletes and the determinants of exercise performance in children. As the author of Exercise and Children's Health and editor of Pediatric Exercise Science Journal for the past 15 years, he has extensive research experience in exercise physiology of children. He has served as president of the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine (NASPEM), was on the board of trustees of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and is a past president of the New England chapter of the ACSM. He received the ACSM Honor Award in 1993.

At 11 a.m., Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D., president of the United States Center for Coaching Excellence and member of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology executive board, will present “A Coach’s Guide to Peak Adolescent Sport Performance.” Her educational, research and consultation concentrations include coaching education, professional issues in coaching, ethics in coaching, performance enhancement, athlete talent development, and understanding and preventing under recovery. She holds an elite level USA Cycling license and coaches both semi-professional and professional elite road cyclists, mountain bikers and adventure racers.

Symposium History

Colby-Sawyer launched the Exercise and Sport Sciences & Athletics Symposium in 1991 under then-President Peggy Stock (1986-1995) in an effort to bring New England athletics and sports science professionals together and to showcase the new 63,000-square-foot Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center.

The inaugural symposium was widely attended and considered a success by all, including the event organizers, former Director of Athletics Deborah Field McGrath ’68 and former chair of the department, Richard J. LaRue, Ph.D. “We had a solid number of students and guests who attended that first year,” said Dr. LaRue. “As a result, it became an annual event.”

Three speakers were featured, setting the pattern still followed. They were Dr. Karl Stoedefalke, former exercise physiologist professor at Pennsylvania State University (and father of Exercise and Sport Sciences Professor Kerstin Stoedefalke), who presented “Healthy People 2000”; Dr. Joseph Scheuchenzuber, professor of physical education at Springfield College, who presented “Enhancing Human Performance”; and Matthew Gerken, former professor and head athletic trainer at Colby-Sawyer, who presented “Sports and Athletic Training: Current Issues and Problems.”

In its early years, guests were charged $25 and additional funding was provided by businesses with interest in the college or the athletics and sports science industry. The inaugural event was funded by Whipple-Allen Construction Co., the contractors who built the Hogan Center; from 1992 to 1994 and in 1996, Aircast Incorporated sponsored the event. After 1996, the event’s budget was absorbed by the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department, with support from Colby-Sawyer Athletics, and guests were admitted free of charge beginning in 2005.

To learn more about the Exercise and Sport Sciences at Colby-Sawyer College, visit For more information about Colby-Sawyer Athletics, visit