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SEP graduate helps professional athletes overcome barriers to reach professional summit

Jesse Michel earned his Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2013. Michel, who is from Los Angeles, went straight to work for the military as the lead master resilience trainer, performance expert at the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) Training Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The mission of CSF2 is to teach resilience, sport and performance psychology skills to U.S. Army Soldiers, family members and Department of Army civilians around the world. 

“While with CSF2, I provided hands-on mental training and self-development tools so that members of the Army family were better able to cope with adversity, perform better in stressful situations and thrive on and off the battlefield,” Michel explained.  

Then in January 2017, Michel headed in a different direction. “I was hired to be the Houston Astros mental skills coordinator. My role is to work closely with the sports medicine and performance staff, coaches, players and front office personnel to develop, implement and evaluate the Astros mental skills program,” he said. 

Michel describes how his work supports the team. “Our organization believes in developing the whole athlete, technically, physically and mentally. My job is to help our players develop the mental skills necessary to perform at their best most consistently. We do this through a variety of ways, such as group workshops, 1-1 mental training, coaching development and through integrating emerging technologies that can help our athletes,” Michel stated.  

Michel cherishes his experiences with the Astros and their run to the World Series. “I was able to share the whole experience with my lifelong friends who live in LA, my wife and family. Coming back in the ninth in Game 2 to win in extra innings, the ups and downs of Game 5, arguably the best World Series game of all time, and then being in my hometown to celebrate a World Series Championship with my dad in Game 7 really stand out above the rest,” he exclaimed.  

Michel shares why he chose his major at WVU and how CPASS helped launch his career. “There is nothing better than seeing an athlete reach their potential and my passion comes from helping athletes identify, address and eliminate the personal, cultural or systemic barriers that get in the way of doing so. I love that sports bring out the best and the worst of us, and seeing the joy in an athlete or coaches’ eyes after reaching their personal or professional mountaintop continues to motivate and inspire me to work harder and smarter for our players and coaches,” Michel stated. 

Michel chose CPASS because of the world-class sport psychology education, training and mentorship. “I had the opportunity to enroll in the dual-degree graduate program in SEP and the master’s degree in counseling,” he added. 

According to Michel, the CPASS SEP program allowed him to grow into the best early professional he could be. “There were five AASP certified mental performance consultants for me to learn from and get feedback. The graduate program had some of the brightest young minds in our field. I had endless opportunities to teach students and work with athletes on and off campus. Finally, it was the perfect environment to learn, be challenged and grow,” said Michel. 

Michel held two different graduate assistantships while at WVU. He worked for three years for WELLWVU and one year as a health behavior consultant in the PEIA Weight Management program. Both opportunities allowed him to expand his skillset beyond sports, work in the health and wellness field and round out his training and education in unique ways. 

One way Michel built his early career was through networking. “Everyone you meet through your time at WVU can influence your career in some way. To me, networking is really about building relationships, doing good work, developing a solid reputation and then stepping up when you have an opportunity to help someone, personally or professionally. I am still in close contact with Drs. Etzel, Watson and Zizzi and frequently speak with my fellow students,” explained Michel. 

CPASS students who want to follow their passion into the sports business industry should say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, do good work, take advantage of the resources CPASS provides, go to conferences and present, network with CPASS graduates. “Students should give back more than they take,” Michel added.   

“I owe the majority of my career success up to this point to the professors and colleagues I met and opportunities I had during the four years I spent as a CPASS student in Morgantown. I am looking forward to giving back any way I can as an alumnus of this amazing program,” Michel concluded.
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