Bio: Chrissy Holm, MSc, currently works as an assistant rowing coach at University of Minnesota. She is a former NCAA national champion and world champion in rowing, representing Team USA at the Under-23 level. She enjoys blending her practical experiences as an elite athlete with rigorous study in the field of sport and exercise psychology to provide cutting-edge coaching to the athletes she serves. She is also a yoga instructor and helps her athletes gain flexibility, body and mindful awareness, and focus to achieve consistent results. She intends to develop and extend those skills into a clinical environment to support healthy minds in the pursuit of optimal performance.
Why did you choose UWS?
I heard about UWS through a friend of mine who was in the first cohort of the sport and performance psychology program. What attracted me to UWS was the opportunity to study and work full-time in sport, while directly applying and interacting with the material I learned in class to my work. I liked knowing that I could travel for work, keep up with my academics and learn from others who were doing the same.
Why did you choose your program/concentration?
I have been coaching rowing at the Division 1 level for the past three years. A strikingly apparent demand within college athletics is the need for coping skills to handle the surmounting stress placed on a student-athlete. Specifically, anxiety and the crippling effects that come with it, hinder a surprisingly large number of student-athletes from reaching their potential. Often, the conversations I have with student-athletes around their anxiety and ways to cope with it have led to the biggest performance increases. With that, I feel that it is my duty as a coach to get the proper education and certification in counseling to serve the needs of the student-athletes and deliver applications grounded in research. The EdD in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in sport and performance psychology affords me the opportunity to be able to not only address mental illness, but mental performance skills as well. From my experiences as a coach, I recognize that both are extremely important for optimal performance.
What has been your favorite class/instructor?
The class that I have enjoyed the most on the clinical mental health side has been Pre-Practicum, because we were able to practice counselor and client scenarios via Zoom (video chat), record ourselves and get specific feedback from our instructor. Not only was the feedback rich, but it allowed us to practice ‘e-counseling’, which is a recent trend in the field as technology advances. On the sport psychology side, I learned so much from the Psychology of Performance Excellence course that dives into positive psychology. Not only did it provide material for me to use with my current athletes, but also it afforded me an opportunity to truly reflect on my own life and make some positive changes and self-discovery.
What is your favorite part about the online format of the program?
The online format is extremely accessible to someone with a busy and evolving work environment or lifestyle. I am able to pursue my studies while concurrently pursuing my career and professional sport experiences. I am also connected to others who I would not otherwise be able to learn from due to proximity. To get all of the learners who also work in sport or other performance realms under one roof is logistically impossible, and the online platform allows for the growth and discussion that you would get in a traditional classroom setting.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress outside the office and classroom?
I enjoy teaching and taking yoga classes of the hot vinyasa and yoga sculpt variety. I have found it to be not only therapeutic and challenging, but an excellent avenue to apply some of the concepts we are learning in class into practice. Mindfulness meditation or listening to music helps me unwind and process my experiences. I also like to travel and experience new cultures from a local’s perspective. I tend to gravitate toward those adventures that foster self-discovery and feel rejuvenated and de-stressed in doing so. I would like my next trip to be to Japan!
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Ultimately, I would like to work with athletes as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) for a university or professional team, applying concepts of positive psychology, mindfulness meditation and resilience. Overall, my purpose beyond this program is to foster growth within myself, but more importantly, within the athletes. This growth manifests itself in many ways- physical, mental and emotional. I think pushing and supporting the athletes to get to that next level requires that I step outside of my comfort zone and stretch my capacities as well.
“To do anything really well, you have to overextend yourself… In my case, I learned that I just had to pay twice as much attention. I came to appreciate that in doing something over and over again, something that was never natural becomes almost second nature. You learn that you have the capacity for that and that it doesn’t come overnight.” – John Irving