Challace J. McMillin Center 2017 Coaching Clinic


By: Trudy Horsting
Creative Services Student Writer

The Challace J. McMillin Center for Sport Psychology is an outreach program focused on promoting athletic performance excellence at JMU and in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley. For over eight years, they have hosted a free coaching clinic open to youth, high school and collegiate coaches. Chris Bilder, Co-Assistant Director of the center, is especially passionate about the clinics and the value they have to members of the athletic community. He says they offer an “across the spectrum view of coaching and administrating that provides a positive, athlete centered focus.” Through the clinics, coaches are educated on ways to foster not only athletic performance in their athletes, but personal excellence and emotional wellbeing.

These clinics have become successful over the years because they provide the community a condensed version of the most current information in the field. Not only do they present the theory behind the concepts, they provide examples of practical application. Bilder says, “I think we do a good job of being able to blend theory and application together so that coaches can have a better understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing for their athletes.”

The 2017 clinic, held on February 13, centered on the topic of high performance culture. Bilder says their aim was to illustrate “what type of team culture breeds high performance in athletes, the ways that you can help build the team culture that you want, and the applicable ways you can sustain that.” Depending on the competitive level of the team, this culture can look very different. By providing a wide variety of content and guest speakers, the clinic has become a resource for coaches of all levels. This year, presenters included keynote speaker Marlin Ikenberry, the head coach of the JMU Baseball Team; Robert Harmison, Kibler Professor of Sport Psychology at JMU; and six additional professionals in the field of sport psychology, including Chris Bilder. The 2017 clinic also included the first ever student-athlete panel featuring members of the JMU Volleyball team. Bilder reflects, “The student-athlete panel was phenomenal. It’s obvious that the volleyball team here has a very special culture and the student athletes were very well spoken and very well able to relate why they were so successful in what they were able to do.”

In addition to the guest speakers who are central to the clinic’s success, the McMillin Center relies on numerous partnerships during the planning stages. The center works in an interdisciplinary fashion with the Department of Kinesiology in organizing the clinic. Furthermore, they collaborate with the Harrisonburg Department of Parks and Recreation to improve their outreach. Bilder emphasizes the invaluable contribution the Department of Parks and Recreation makes in the clinic’s ability to reach a multitude of coaches. This year’s record attendance of 60 coaches from a variety of different sports and level teams illustrates this impact. 

Bilder says, “Within the McMillin Center we’re trying to be creative in ways we can reach the community from a youth sport level all the way to NCAA level.” For all participants, the goal is to encourage application of athletic performance concepts in other facets of life. Future plans include potentially hosting multiple clinics, each focused on a specific competition level. Until then, Bilder says, “We would like to continue to reach as many people as possible in the Shenandoah Valley and the surrounding regions to try to promote performance excellence and life excellence as well.” 

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Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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