First Graduates of Exercise Science Major Leave Legacy For Years to Come

First Graduates of Exercise Science Major Leave Legacy For Years to Come

By Alyssa Kranz

Tanner Pruett always dreamed of playing baseball. Even in his teen years, he imagined what it would be like to work in a professional sports setting.

After high school, he debated which major to choose after applying to attend Crown College. He liked math, but found out that the college offered a brand new major that matched up with his career aspirations.

“I came to Crown after one of the coaches contacted me to play for their baseball team. I went out on a limb and decided to try out Exercise Science. Since I am an athlete, Exercise Science had an appeal, and the new lab was intriguing,” says Pruett.

Fortunately, an experienced professor with quite the impressive background — including a doctorate in Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology and nearly two decades of program development expertise at the University of Minnesota — had just joined Crown College to help build the Exercise Science major.

Dr. Stacy Ingraham was excited to build a world-class program from the ground up while sharing her expertise with the students and mentoring them in both the classroom and on the field.

The Exercise Science lab is filled with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, matching what athletes use in professional sports. The classroom and lab provide multiple interactive workspaces and televisions that allow students to collaborate and study.

Many Christian colleges do not offer equipment such as the COSMED Metabolic Cart (measures metabolic costs), Velotron Wingate Bike Test (which measures cycling power), FusionSport and BERTEC Force Plates (for measuring jump distance and force), and a Research Grade BOD POD (which measures percent of body fat by air displacement).

“This is what makes our program unique,” says Dr. Ingraham. “We have research-grade, state-of-the-art equipment, and our undergraduates acquire a graduate-level education because of the individuality of the program, the research opportunities, and equipment competence. When the students graduate, they’re able to work with the equipment, interpret the information, and troubleshoot any issue with the equipment.”

Dr. Ingraham assists students in understanding what it takes to acquire a job after graduation from her 17 years of writing curriculum at the University of Minnesota, and working in the field before entering academia. She was an elite-level distance runner from 1978-1991, and raced for NIKE-Team Iowa which helped prepare her for the field. She is able to accurately train and teach her students so that when they graduate from the program, they can hit the ground running with a job.

All Exercise Science students work on a research project throughout the degree program, with a central focus on a project in their junior year to present at the Regional American College of Sports Medicine Conference (Northland ACSM) and the National ACSM by their senior year.

For Jade Friederick, another recent graduate, the most challenging part of the program was the learning curve. Acquiring the skills to write scientific research is unlike anything he has done before, but working with Dr. Ingraham was very rewarding.

Wayne York also graduated from the program and says, “I chose this major because it combined my love for sports and science. It has now blossomed into a career where I am passionate about health and medicine.”

Over 40% of the student population at Crown will participate in one or more sports during their time here. “The Exercise Science program is a perfect fit for our athletes because they get the opportunity to improve themselves in sport through their research in class,” says Dr. Ingraham.

Pruett said a few of the classes he took helped him in his position as a pitcher on the Crown Baseball team. “My Biomechanics class helped me study how the body moves and use that and apply it to my pitching mechanics in baseball. In the Training Theory and Analytics class, Dr. Ingraham taught me how to train specifically for baseball.”

In that particular class, you learn the different demands of each sport, which proved invaluable when Pruett later trained for the baseball season.

This degree can open up opportunities in jobs such as an exercise physiologist, lab technician, nutritionist, physical therapist, personal trainer, exercise technician, coaching, and an athletic trainer. For students desiring a degree in Exercise Science, they can choose fields working with obese or diseased patients, performance athletes, those who need cardiac rehabilitation, and many of the coaching professions.

“Wayne, Jade, and Tanner were family,” says Dr. Ingraham. “They pushed each other to be better. I couldn’t have asked for a better combination of students to pave the path for the future of this program.”

Dr. Ingraham is looking forward to the incoming Exercise Science class, and predicts steady growth for the program in the future — including the opportunity to work with teams outside of Crown.

“The next group coming through is exactly what we want in Exercise Science students. It is a hard major and with a majority of them being athletes, they can hone their athletic craft through their major — which is pretty awesome,” says Dr. Ingraham. “When there is passion, there is great opportunity to become pretty skilled — which at the end of the day equals excellence which is what God expects of us in all that we pursue.”

“In the next couple of years I can see the program growing to be one of the top majors at Crown. Stacy gives an equal amount of challenge and excitement in the course,” adds Friederick.

Each of these graduates — Jade Friederick, Wayne York, and Tanner Pruett — have completed the program, but will not be forgotten. Their hard work both in the classroom and on the field leaves a remarkable standard to follow for years to come.

All are now taking the steps to become certified so they can obtain a job in their desired field. Friederick would love to work in the healthcare field, specifically physical therapy; Pruett would like to obtain a job as a strength and conditioning coach so that eventually he could open his own pitching facility; and York plans to become a certified clinical exercise physiologist.

Pruett’s experience in the program made his time at Crown rewarding. He is thankful Dr. Ingraham devotes so much time and energy to ensure the success of her students.

Here is a video overview of our Exercise Science program at Crown.