2018 Psychology Graduate Pursuing ‘Sport for Peace’ Curriculum at Kentucky

January 14, 2020

Travis Scheadler ‘exploring how sport can be used as a platform for advocacy and peace-building”

Sport is pervasive throughout American society. Led by the Super Bowl, sporting events regularly constitute the most-watched television shows, and stadiums, field houses, ice rinks and ballfields are regularly filled — from the elite professional and big-time college ranks down to high schools and pee-wee leagues.

PICTURED: Travis Scheadler is flanked by Lila Kincaid (LEFT) and Hannah Rolf as Dr. Victoria DeSensi teaches a psychology class on the campus mall in 2016.

While we normally think of sport for its entertainment, marketing and recreational value, 2018 Wilmington College graduate Travis Scheadler is considering aspects of sport as a means for promoting peace.

Scheadler is a sport and exercise psychology student pursuing a Master of Science in the University of Kentucky’s College of Education, Dept. of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. He is engaged in a research track focused on sport for peace, social justice and athlete activism.

The Journal for Advancing Sport Psychology Research recently selected him as its first junior associate editor. The publication is sponsored by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

In his editorial role, Scheadler reviews submissions from students and early-career professionals aspiring to develop their scholarship skills. Also, he is collaborating with the Center for Sport, Peace and Society at the University of Tennessee in developing his “interests, passion and knowledge” in the field.

Sport for peace is an underlying concept behind the Olympics and international sports movements. The United Nations endeavors that sport, ideally, disregards geographical borders and social classes, and plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development. At its best, sport promotes the ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, nonviolence, tolerance and justice.

Scheadler’s interest in the field hearkens to his youth when he faced challenges related to threats of interpersonal violence.

“My identity as an athlete and my passion for learning have always acted as a safe haven for me, so I decided to look into how to intertwine sports into a future career,” he said. “As I reflected on the idea, I realized how my parents always taught (twin sister) Tiffany and me the value of giving back to people in need — that is when I became interested in the power of sport to make a difference in our society.”

At Wilmington College, Scheadler was a campus leader and participated in soccer and track and field, in addition to his academic pursuits as a psychology major.

“WC provided me with so many opportunities that prepared me for the road I’m now on,” he said. “I had the opportunity to learn from expert faculty that truly cared about us students.”

He cited Drs. Audrey Wagstaff, Victoria DeSensi and Michael Snarr, all of whom helped “expand my passion for learning into a passion for research.” That trio, along with Drs. Barbara Utendorf and Marlaina Leppert-Wahl “helped me grow my critical thinking skills while exposing me to many social issues and new ways of thinking about them.”

Currently in the second year of his master’s curriculum, Scheadler is in the process of applying for Ph.D. programs.

“I am trying to set up my educational path to prepare me for a career in academia or the non-profit sector, or even potentially exploring politics,” he said. “Regardless, I am interested in exploring how sport can be used as a platform for advocacy and peace-building.”

DeSensi, associate professor of psychology and one of his mentors at WC, cited Scheadler’s “stellar work ethic” and noted he stood out among most of his peers in terms of demonstrating his “genuine commitment” to pursuing a professional future in psychology.

“I am not at all surprised that Travis hit the ground running toward success in his graduate program,” she said, noting he always took initiative and seized a multitude of professional development opportunities offered to him at the College.

“I have no doubt that Travis will continue to apply his many intellectual and social gifts and talents toward not only building his own personal success, but also toward building a brighter future for the people and community he desires to serve.”