Gould named new MSU professorship of youth sport

July 1, 2019

Michigan State University Professor Daniel Gould has been recognized as the inaugural Gwendolyn Norrell Professor in Youth Sport and Student-Athlete Well-Being.

Dan Gould speaks at a recent event at MSU.
Gould speaking at a conference in 2018.

Gould, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, is a nationally recognized leader and scholar of sport psychology, coaching and student-athlete development.

“Dan has a distinguished record of research, teaching, mentorship, outreach and service,” said faculty from the selection committee. They noted his career was an ideal complement to the goals of the professorship: promoting athletes’ physical and psychological well-being and adaptive development. “His contributions on the disciplines of sport, exercise psychology and the wider field of youth sport have made an impressive impact.”

The professorship honors Gwendolyn Norrell, who was a nationally recognized proponent for student-athlete welfare, and a former MSU faculty member. The professorship was established in 2018 as part of the Empower Extraordinary campaign at MSU.

Celebrated career

Gould’s work is known throughout the field—his publications, for example, have been cited more than 27,000 times and he has been asked to present his work in 35 countries around the world. He’s the co-author of a leading textbook, “Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology” (Human Kinetics), currently in its seventh edition. He’s served as editor, or part of the editorial board, for journals in psychology- and kinesiology-related fields. To date, 43 doctoral and 33 thesis-based master’s students have graduated with his mentorship.

Dan’s extraordinary record of work in youth sports makes him the perfect person to serve as the first Gwendolyn Norrell Professor. He has a distinguished record of drawing on research, including his own work, to improve the well-being of athletes, particularly through the education of coaches. He’s a shining example of our college’s commitment to using the best available research to transform lives.

Dean Robert E. Floden

Outreach has been a pillar in his career, including serving on U.S. Olympic Committees, several national governing bodies and with community-based youth sport organizations. For more than a decade, he has worked with Detroit PAL, a nonprofit dedicated to giving kids safe and supportive places to play, and has helped to impact the lives of more than 12,000 children in the city. He has also been highly involved with the Michigan High School Athletic Association, helping the organization develop its coaching education and leadership training programs for student-athletes.

“I am passionate about conducting research on practical issues critical to those working in the world of sport and then working to translate what was learned to help sport stakeholders maximize the benefits of sport participation. Helping everyone involved reap the benefits of educational athletics is what I am most proud of,” Gould said.

He came to MSU in 1977, and was one of the first two tenure-line faculty members to be come part of the then-new Institute for the Study of Youth Sports in March 1979. Gould left MSU in 1982, but returned in 2004 as a professor and director for the Institute.

In 2013, Gould (far right) and his wife Deb (next to Gould) established the Kristen Marie Gould Endowed Lecture on Sport for Children and Youth. The annual series is in memory of their daughter, and aims to provide the MSU community access to sport science knowledge and professional practice information. Alan L. Smith (far left) stands next to the 2018 speaker, Travis Dorsch, from Utah State University.

Expanded research

The professorship comes with funding for research to further the field, and Gould plans to expand upon two distinct areas of research: understanding and coaching Generation Z athletes, or those born after 1996, and leadership building through being a sport captain.

Dan’s influence on youth sport scholarship cannot be understated. Through his productive research agenda, excellence in graduate student mentoring and undergraduate instruction, community-based outreach, and leadership of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, he has meaningfully advanced the promotion of healthy, safe, and transformational sport experiences for young people.

Alan L. Smith, chairperson of the Department of Kinesiology

“Gen Z athletes are the first generation of youth who have grown up in a totally digital world,” he said.

They are skilled in technology, are well-educated—and, as Gould theorized, are thought to lack independence, have short attention spans and need frequent feedback. He wants to expand upon his previous research to examine how these characteristics might influence their coaches’ perceptions, challenges to working with Gen Z athletes and effective coaching strategies for helping those youth develop.

Additionally, Gould will further his research on examining how young people learn to lead through the sport team captaincy experience. What do these captains learn, and how might coaches help them get there? He’ll look into how training can be facilitated, and how lessons learned can be applied on and off the field.

Both avenues of research will continue throughout the three-year appointment for the professorship. Gould’s appointment is effective immediately, and continues through June 2022.

Gould, joined by College of Education faculty member Andy Driska, discuss the MSU Summer Coaches’ School, created by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports.

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