Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Newest sport and performance faculty brings exercise and injury focus to DU

Jamie Shapiro

Jamie Shapiro is the newest member of DU's Sports and Perfomance Psychology department.

Jamie Shapiro’s mother never learned how to do a cartwheel, so she enrolled Jamie in gymnastics at the age of 4. Shapiro went on to compete at the college level and is now the newest member of DU’s Sport and Performance Psychology Department in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

“My mom never saw that coming,” says Shapiro, an assistant professor. Shapiro stayed in club gymnastics through high school and then competed on the balance beam and floor exercises for Brown University.

The day before her first college meet, she tore her ACL. It was a severe injury that took her out of competition the rest of the year. But, it also shaped her career.

She studied psychological aspects of athletic injuries for her honors thesis at Brown, a master’s thesis at Springfield College and for her doctoral dissertation at West Virginia University.

“Returning to sport after injury is very personal and individual,” she says. “It can depend on the sport, the timing of the injury, a person’s confidence and motivation levels and fear of re-injury among many other factors.”

Shapiro’s dissertation adviser at West Virginia University says she’s personable and connects well with active people.

“She has a very strong educational and athletic background,” says Edward Etzel, professor of sport and exercise psychology and a licensed psychologist at WVU. “Her background is quite rare.”

Shapiro says her position at DU is the perfect professional match for her. She enjoys mentoring students on how to consult and coach athletes. She also plans to pursue individual work in the community with athletes and people who want guidance with motivation and adherence to exercise.

“Jamie is an excellent addition as she brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective that fits into and complements our existing perspectives,” says Mark Aoyagi, director of the DU’s Sport and Performance Psychology Department. “She has a student-friendly approach to teaching, mentoring and supervising, and a passion to promote our mission of being the best sport and performance psychology training program in the world.”

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