At Live Like Sam, we are constantly pushing to better support young athletes, their families and programs. We are forever grateful that our partners, who span the youth sport spectrum, national business organizations, and many local non-profits, have joined us in this mission.
As such, we are extremely excited to announce the addition of our newest partner, Utah State University!
Utah State University, based in Logan, Utah, has joined the Live Like Sam movement to help us take a significant step forward in our goal of creating valuable, evidence-based personal development curricula for young athletes and their parents. In our partnership, we will be working closely with sport researchers Dr. Travis Dorsch (Human Development and Family Studies) and Dr. Matthew Vierimaa (Kinesiology and Health Science). These scholars and their research teams are providing guidance around our comprehensive educational platforms for young athletes and their parents. Drs. Dorsch and Vierimaa are both assisting in the creation of pilot programs, initially focused on the Park City youth sport ecosystem.
“This partnership represents a timely opportunity to effect positive change in the Park City community and beyond,” said Dr. Dorsch. “Matt and I are excited to lend our passion for youth sport and our scholarly expertise to the Live Like Sam initiative.”
“This is a great opportunity to partner with the Live Like Sam team and develop evidence-based programming that will ultimately be delivered to youth sport organizations across the country,” added Dr. Vierimaa. “The organization has already made great strides in the local community, and we are thrilled to work together with them on this important next phase in honoring Sam’s legacy,”
Dr. Dorsch and Dr. Vierimaa have extensive experience researching the intersectionality of sport and positive development in youth, as well as the role coaches and parents play in creating developmentally appropriate sport settings. In 2016, Dr. Dorsch and his research team conducted a pilot study to design, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based education program for parents in organized youth sport. In their study (“The Impact of Evidence-Based Parent Education in Organized Youth Sport: A Pilot Study”), they found that an evidence-based program yielded more positive parent involvement, more warmth in parent-child relationships, and more adaptive child outcomes.
In 2017, Dr. Vierimaa and colleagues conducted a case study of a thriving grassroots youth basketball program. In this study (“Just for the fun of it: coaches’ perceptions of an exemplary community youth sport program”), they identified that supportive social relationships and an emphasis on enjoyment were key ingredients in developing personal and life skills among young athletes.
Over the course of the past year, Dr. Dorsch and Dr. Vierimaa collaborated with local youth sport stakeholders on “Park City, Our City,” a comprehensive look into organized youth sport programming in Park City. Commissioned by Matt Terwillegar from the Utah Olympic Park, Julian Coffman of the Park City Sport and Wellness Coalition, and Tate Shaw of Park City Recreation, their comprehensive report found that while the 2002 Olympics were a catalyst that increased participation levels in sport and physical activity in Park City on the whole, “the community’s high-performance culture, growing population, and limited facilities often lead sport organizations to adopt a pay-to-play mentality and encourages early sport specialization.”
These findings contradicted the local community’s stated shared beliefs in “the importance of making sport accessible to all, developing physical literacy and life skills, and embracing multi-sport participation.”
Live Like Sam 100-percent supports these community beliefs and will continue to work hard to make them a reality for young athletes, both in the Park City community and across the country.
Our core CARE principles focus on the importance of whole-athlete development – which relies upon promoting inclusivity, supporting athletic goals, focusing on positive personal development, encouraging community service and helping young athletes become well-rounded human beings.
About Our Research Partners
Dr. Travis E. Dorsch is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at USU and the founding director of Families in Sport Lab. He teaches undergraduate courses in lifespan development and human motivation, and graduate courses in human development and quantitative and qualitative research methods. His current research includes the role of youth sport participation on family relationships and interaction, evidence-based parent education in youth, adolescent and early adult competitive sport, and the role of internal and external factors on sport, physical activity and recreational behavior.
Dr. Matthew Vierimaa is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at USU and is the director of the Sport Psychology Lab. Vierimaa’s research program focuses on the intersection of coaching and positive youth development through sport, and his current research involves the development of sport expertise, moral disengagement, and developing mental health literacy in youth sport.
In addition to their research, Dr. Dorsch and his colleagues created an online-evidence-based learning module for parents of incoming NCAA student athletes. Funded by two NCAA research grants, NCAA Sport Parent Education helps parents understand the importance of their role in student-athlete development.