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HNFE Student Bowl team brings home the trophy!

Pierre-Anne Laird, Sabina Holz, Noah Stallard crowned Student Bowl Champs!
Pierre-Anne Laird, Sabina Holz, Noah Stallard

Every year since 2014, our department has taken students to the Southeast Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (SEACSM) conference, where undergraduates and graduate students present research. The SEACSM 2022 conference, held in February in Greenville, SC, included 28 different universities from the Southeast region.

As part of this student-focused conference, universities may also participate in the Student Bowl, much like the Jeopardy quiz show, but with topics in exercise science, nutrition, biomechanics, and cardiovascular physiology. A team of three undergraduate students are given up to 15 seconds for each question, and up to one minute to answer questions that involve calculations. HNFE’s team consisted of Sabina Holz (rising senior, science option), Noah Stallard (rising senior, dietetics option), and Pierre-Anne Laird (May 2022 graduate, science option), and they were coached by Dr. Angela Anderson.

The team won the 2022 SEACSM Student Bowl and was invited to represent SEACSM at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) National Conference in San Diego in May 2022. To prepare for the ACSM student bowl, Anderson and doctoral student Kayla Alesi met with the students throughout the remainder of the spring semester. Key material for the bowl is covered in HNFE’s Exercise and Health course, along with Exercise Physiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology, Physics, Methods of Human Health Assessment, and Metabolic Nutrition classes.

Competing against 11 other regions, HNFE held their own and were in the middle to the top of the leader board throughout the tournament. However, in the final round, the biochemistry question was answered correctly by HNFE alone, and the team was proudly crowned the 2022 ACSM Student Bowl champions!

Traveling to San Diego along with Anderson, Holz, Stallard, and Laird were faculty Dr. Stella Volpe, Renee Eaton, and Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer, along with doctoral students Rohit Ramadoss and Trisha Sterringer, and eight undergraduate students (Meghan Brown, Nicole Forth, Aidan Jani, Octay Jani, Jewel Mayo, Yasmin Momenian, Katherine Oshirak, Nikita Wagner).

Virginia Tech HNFE group at ACSM after the big win!
Traveling to San Diego along with Anderson, Holz, Stallard, and Laird were faculty Dr. Stella Volpe, Renee Eaton, and Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer, along with doctoral students Rohit Ramadoss and Trisha Sterringer, and eight undergraduate students (Meghan Brown, Nicole Forth, Aidan Jani, Octay Jani, Jewel Mayo, Yasmin Momenian, Katherine Oshirak, Nikita Wagner).

Let’s meet the team!

Dr. Angela Anderson with the Hokie Bird

Dr. Angela Anderson with the Hokie Bird
Dr. Angela Anderson with the Hokie Bird

How did you get involved with SEASCM/ACSM?
"I got involved with SEACSM with Renee Eaton my first year as full-time faculty in HNFE. Renee and I drove two vans with 10 students to Greenville, SC for the conference in February 2019. I had no idea what the Student Bowl was and took it all in as the students competed. The next year I took five students with me to the SEACSM in Jacksonville, FL and helped as a table judge. The conference was online in 2021, and we returned to Greenville in February 2022 with 11 students. I had had both Noah and Pierre in class and knew they knew the material really well. On the ride to Greenville, we reviewed topics, and even though Sabina had not had some of the classes Noah and Pierre had taken, she was really impressive, and I knew that I had a great team!

"At the Student Bowl at SEACSM in 2022, I was also a table judge, and I watched as our team didn’t seem to be preforming as well as expected. Well, it turned out that Virginia Tech was switched with another school in the scoring spreadsheet. Thanks to the table judge who kept track of their score in the second round, he was able to advocate for our team, and it turned out we were now one of the top teams heading into Final Jeopardy! The final question was on nutrition, and our students nailed the answer and won the Student Bowl!

"Although I became an ACSM member during graduate school (2008-2013), I had never attended the national ACSM conference, and it was an awesome opportunity. After our success this year, we hope to take students regularly to the national conference."

How did you prepare the students for the broad topics covered in the bowl?
"I had the most amazing GTA, Kayla Alesi, in HNFE 2804 Exercise and Health. Kayla had competed in the Student Bowl as a student at Kennisaw State (KS). KS traditionally has a strong bowl team, and she had practice questions we were able to use. We met for an hour each week after spring break up until the conference. Each of the three students had their own strengths which really balanced this unique team."

What did you enjoy most about coaching the students?
"HNFE has some of the best students, and every day it is a blessing to work with them in the classroom! What I especially enjoyed this year was the hour each week I got to spend with these students, not only are they bright and capable academically, but they are fun and they keep me young. I am so blessed by my job as a collegiate professor in HNFE; we have an amazing faculty and student body, and I can’t say enough about my other faculty members. These students would not have been as prepared as they were without the many HNFE classes  they have taken over their collegiate career. All of our professors pour their hearts into our students and as a result, I got a chance to coach some amazing students!"

How did you get involved with SEASCM/ACSM?

  • Sabina: I got involved with SEACSM/ACSM originally by going to the regional conference in February after getting an email from HNFE Advising. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about sports medicine, and I decided to go!
  • Pierre-Anne: I got involved with ACSM due to my involvement in Dr. Volpe's lab group! She offered to take us to SEACSM, and I definitely wanted to go. After winning the regional Student Bowl, it was assured we would go to the national conference.
  • Noah: I got involved with SEACSM/ACSM through Dr. Volpe and Dr. Anderson. They both spoke very fondly of going to the conferences, the value of the networking opportunities, and being able to watch presentations on what is currently going on in exercise and nutrition, in terms of research.

How did you prepare?

  • Sabina: Our preparation for the regional competition was very minimal and consisted only of the practice we had in the car on the way to the conference. For nationals, we began preparing once a week about two months in advance by doing practice questions.
  • Pierre-Anne: There was no formal preparation for the SEACSM Student Bowl, we just reviewed on the drive down. For the national conference we reviewed weekly via sessions on Mondays with Dr. Anderson and Kayla.
  • Noah: On the car ride to SEACSM, we practiced questions and that was all the preparation we did for the regional Student Bowl! For the national Student Bowl, we met with Dr. Anderson and Kayla Alesi once a week. We switched categories each week and learned which areas were our strengths and weaknesses. In the weeks leading up to San Diego, we did comprehensive reviews, and Dr. Anderson and Michaela both brought lots of expertise and helped us on topics we were not as strong at, especially ECG!

What did you enjoy most or learn from this experience?

  • Sabina: I really enjoyed learning more about the various topics during our preparation. A lot of the content involved in the competition came from classes that I haven’t taken yet, so a lot of the material was new for me. The other team members also made the process a lot of fun.
  • Pierre-Anne: I enjoyed seeing all the diverse kinds of research being conducted across the country and discussing these with lots of interesting and accomplished people in the field.
  • Noah: The opportunity to be a part of a team that was incredibly well-balanced in our knowledge and having the support of a lot of people from the department, ranging from students to faculty. I really enjoyed attending sessions on specific topics I am interested in and supporting Rohit Ramadoss (doctoral student) and Kayla Alesi (doctoral student) at their presentations. Lastly, I learned to have humility in this field. There is an endless amount of knowledge that we haven't figured out yet, and we are all still learning.

Did this help you with your future education and career plans?

  • Sabina: This whole experience of both Student Bowl and attending the two ACSM conferences definitely helped me learn a lot that is relevant to my current job and future career as an athletic trainer.
  • Pierre-Anne: These experiences helped immensely with cultivating my future plans. I really want to go into research, so there is no better place to learn about that process, get advice, look for opportunities, etc. than the ACSM Conferences (or research conferences in general, but I say ACSM as I have only been to those)! Overall going to the conferences were really stimulating experiences not only professionally and academically, but I found myself making new friends from the trips!
  • Noah: Going to these conferences has helped a lot in my professional development. I have been so fortunate to have been able to meet incredible people in this field thanks to Dr. Volpe. Additionally, this has allowed me to further develop my knowledge in the field and the current practices of physicians and has helped me further develop my evidence-based practice skills.