Baylor Team Wins National Student Bowl Competition at American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting

June 11, 2024
American College of Sports Medicine Student Bowl Winners

This summer, a Baylor University undergraduate team from the Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation brought home the gold. For the first time in university history, a Baylor team claimed the national championship for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting Student Bowl competition held in Boston, Massachusetts. 

The ACSM Student Bowl is a Jeopardy-style competition that tests participants’ knowledge in kinesiology, anatomy, exercise physiology, and related fields. The journey for the Baylor University students began with the regional Student Bowl competition this past February. Under the leadership of Faculty Sponsor Jeff Forsse, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor, and Coach Exercise and Nutrition Sciences PhD student Leroy Bolden, two Baylor teams claimed first and second place at the Texas Chapter ACSM competition with the first-place team thus qualifying for the national competition.

Shortly following the regional victory, Dr. Forsse unexpectedly and tragically passed away. Even as his students mourned the loss of their teacher, mentor, and friend, they were driven and inspired to honor the investment he had poured into them by competing at the highest level during the national competition. 

“Dr. Forsse had a tremendous impact on us as an instructor and a mentor, and we wanted to make him proud—winning nationals was one thing we wanted to do for him,” Bolden shared. “We said a lot, ‘We’re going to do it for Forsse,’ but I also told the team that he would have been proud of them no matter what—for how hard they worked and studied, for going head-to-head with our doctoral students and winning. Dr. Forsee would have been so proud of you guys.”

Team members and Exercise Physiology undergraduates Nathan Vanderpool, Reagan Mace, and Andrew Callas spent Monday evenings and Friday afternoons practicing for the big event with Coach Bolden while also attending weekly subject-specific lectures to freshen up their knowledge and practicing on their own whenever they had the opportunity. The Health, Human Performance, and Recreation community also stepped in to support the team. Andrew Gallucci, PhD, initially served as Faculty Sponsor following Dr. Forsse’s passing, and Michael Wiggs, PhD, took over for the actual ACSM competition. Other faculty members, including Cory Smith, PhD, Cory Dungan, PhD, and Jaeho Shim, PhD, offered their expertise and resources as the team was preparing. Even more faculty and staff members provided encouragement, and Graduate Assistant Ricardo Torres and Tomas Chapman- Lopez, PhD, jumped in to support Bolden in his coaching role. 

“We’re so appreciative of the Department for all of the excitement and support. From Dr. Connally to Dr. Margaret Wooddy to Victoria Willigar and Beth Davis—just a big shoutout for all of the help that encouraged us and allowed me to coach efficiently for our team. Also, thank you  all of the students that cheered us on at the competition. Hearing the cheers and support during the competition was more than we could’ve asked for, and we are grateful for that.” Bolden said.

The Baylor students defeated 11 teams from universities across the country to clinch the National Student Bowl competition. Each received a $200 scholarship in recognition of their victory. 

“I am so proud of the team’s winning performance,” said Dale Connally, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation. “It is such a fitting and meaningful tribute to Dr. Forsse’s influence on our department. I appreciate how our faculty and students collaborated to enable the team to compete and win at the highest level. We celebrate, as we know Jeff would have celebrated!”