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Whitworth athletic-training students sharpen skills at national skating championships

December 31, 2009
When America's best figure skaters come to Spokane this January to compete for spots on the U.S. winter Olympic squad, they will meet a team of Whitworth University athletic-training students and faculty ready to help provide them with nearly around-the-clock medical care throughout the competition.

During the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, to be held Jan. 14-24, fourteen students will work with teams of doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapists from Group Health Cooperative, the event's official medical sponsor. The students will work under the direction of Ed Reisman, M.D., a family practice physician and former competitive skater who will serve as medical director for the championships. Reisman also is Whitworth's team physician and works closely with students in the university's nationally accredited athletic-training program that emphasizes hands-on clinical experience.

This is the second time Whitworth students will have worked at the figure skating championships. Whitworth also collaborated with Group Health to provide medical care when the championships were held in Spokane in 2007.

"Dr. Reisman knows the rigorous coursework our students receive, he has seen the quality care they provide our student-athletes, and he recognized that they were a valuable part of the medical team during the 2007 skating championships, says Russ Richardson, associate professor and director of athletic training at Whitworth."Working at the competition provides a unique learning opportunity for our students, both because of the caliber of athletes involved and because skating isn't an NCAA intercollegiate sport."

Richardson and other medical and skating experts will instruct students – 12 from Whitworth and two from Eastern Washington University – about the specific medical, biomechanical and psychological issues faced by elite figure skaters. The course will cover topics ranging range from conditioning and common injuries to the anatomy of a figure skater and a double-toe loop. Instruction will take place in the classroom and on the ice, including a simulation of an emergency response to a serious skating injury.

"Every sport has its own injury profile based on the activity of the sport," says Richardson, who has worked as an athletic trainer at international events such as Skate America, the World Cup of Wrestling, and the USA vs. Cuba Boxing Challenge. "Figure skating involves high speeds, rotary motions and an unyielding surface, which can lead to injuries that our students don't necessarily see in other sports and will need to understand for this competition."

Medical teams, each of which will include a student, will be ice-side at both skating venues, and at a medical suite in the skaters' official hotel for up to 18 hours a day that skaters are training or performing. The students will assist in providing comprehensive medical care, including initial injury assessment, application of therapeutic modalities, appropriate first aid, and preventive activities such as stretching and massage.

Established in 1987, Whitworth's athletic-training program enrolls 50 majors in a rigorous curriculum that includes 1,200 hours of clinical experience and prepares students for certification by the Board of Certification for Athletic Training. Several graduates have been selected for internships with professional sports teams; Whitworth athletic-training alums are sought after for teaching and athletic-training positions in high-school, college and university athletic departments. A number of Whitworth athletic-training graduates have earned advanced degrees to pursue other health-care professions including physician assistants, chiropractors and physical therapists.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which enrolls more than 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Russ Richardson, director of athletic training, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3244 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or

Whitworth wins large grant to start scholarship program for underrepresented students in the sciences

December 21, 2009
Grant also will fund science tutoring labs, supplemental science instruction for lower-division students

As enrollment in the sciences continue to decline at schools nationwide, threatening America's long-term ability to remain competitive and secure, Whitworth University has won a $587,494 grant to support its ongoing growth in science majors. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Whitworth’s "NSF Scholars: Training Tomorrow's Scientists Today" program will help financially support a total of 48 underrepresented students majoring in the sciences over the next four years.

Whitworth is the only liberal arts university in the Northwest to receive this type of NSF funding this year. Other Northwest schools that received funding this year include Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Idaho State University.

The National Science Board has identified a critical need for more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Yet highly-capable minority and low-income students often have trouble remaining in the sciences, usually because they lack learning strategies to help them understand how to learn science, knowledge of how to access resources, understanding that they need to ask for help early on, and understanding the vast job opportunities in scientific fields.

Whitworth, which has bucked national trends by increasing the number of its sciences majors by 50 percent in recent years, is seeking to continue that growth by undertaking a major science initiative that includes constructing a new $32 million biology/chemistry building, which is expected to be completed by next fall. The new NSF Scholars program, which will focus on helping underrepresented students such as women, ethnic minorities and the disabled receive the help they need to pursue the sciences, also is part of the university's commitment to the sciences.

"There is a recognized need nationally to train more students in the sciences, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, which is home to a lot of high-tech businesses," says Finn Pond, professor of biology at Whitworth and principal investigator for the NSF Scholars project. "We're excited about the grant because it allows us to address that need, and because we'll be able to bring students to Whitworth who many not have been able to come here otherwise."

The goal of the NSF Scholars program is to increase the number of underrepresented students graduating with degrees in the sciences by providing financial support and integration into the academic and social systems of the university. It will build upon the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative started at the university in 2003 that has provided scholarships to urban minority and low-income students from Spokane and Tacoma, Wash. In its sixth year, Act Six has a 94 percent graduation rate, far higher than the national average of 53 percent for all students.

The NSF Scholars program will follow a cohort model similar to what is used for Act Six, and will provide $4,000 scholarships per student each year of the four-year NSF grant. The university will start with 12 students next year and will add 12 students each year thereafter. The NSF Scholar program will use student academic support and mentoring services created for the Act Six students, such as a bridge program, tutoring, and faculty and peer mentors. The cohorts also will take freshman seminar together. The NSF Scholars program will add to the Act Six model by providing peer-facilitated supplemental instruction in the freshman foundational science sequences and an interdisciplinary course designed to guide students toward learning their own specific strengths and values so that they can discover what kinds of scientific, technological, engineering, or mathematics-related vocational opportunities would fit them best.

In addition to Pond, co-investigators for the project include Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kerry Breno, Associate Professor of Physics Kamesh Sankaran, and Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Pete Tucker. Ginny Whitehouse, associate professor of communications, will be in charge of training peer instructors, tutors, and faculty mentors.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Lynn Noland, director, sponsored programs office, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3701 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or