Florida A&M University (FAMU) hosted its third annual student-led conference for the Association for Applied Sports Psychology (AASP) at the FAMU Pharmacy Building on March 2-3 to expose individuals with an interest in sports and exercise psychology to diversify and stimulate professional growth on the field.
Keynote speaker Charles Ward, the only Heisman winner to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), analyzed his personal growth and success and motivated people to prepare for their own success.
“It is important that you prepare your heart and mind for success, persevere through tough times, and always have patience,” he said.
Ward described some of the roadblocks and challenges he experienced during his career in the NBA. He emphasized that no matter what challenges faced, maintaining good work ethic is key.
“I was able to successfully play in the NBA for 11 years because of my worth ethic. Your worth ethic can take you a long way,” noted Ward.
FAMU Associate Professor of Psychology, Brian Sims, explained the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) colonization of African American athletes in the United States. According to Sims, academic guidelines did not become a requirement of the NCAA until African American males began to dominate the organization.
“Until the 1970s, football and basketball was a white man’s sport, and there were no academic guidelines until black men became a part of the NCAA,” Sims said.
Sims illustrated the deficit between black life and white life in America, highlighting William Stranton’s book entitled, “The Leopard Spots: Scientific Attitudes Towards Race in America,” which describes the scientific justification rendering dark people as inferiors in the world. He explained the concept of scientific racism, the reality that historically, the science of measuring coincidentally always works out to the detriment or harm of African Americans.
Elisabeth Richison, graduating Psychology student at FAMU, said the AASP-HBCU Conference ingredients for success helped her feel prepared for the near future more than ever.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend this conference because it was very informative and motivational,” said Richison. “The insight from other successful subjects helped reshape my personal values and get prepared for success.”
Charles Ward encouraged individuals to always be positive and strong-minded to mentally prepare for what is to come.
“We must all maintain mental toughness to be successful,” he said.
The AASP-HBCU Conference was followed by a reception in the FAMU Meek Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum.