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Sport Psychology’s Cormier Named Top Early Career Practitioner

Photo of Marc Cormier talking with student athletes
Dr. Marc Cormier talks with student athletes (photo courtesy UK Athletics)

Marc Cormier’s passion for helping students as a sport and exercise psychology practitioner and faculty member at the University of Kentucky is evident on playing fields and in the classroom. His dedication is being recognized by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology with the 2021 Early Career Practitioner Award.

Cormier directs UK’s Sport and Exercise Psychology graduate program and works with UK Athletics, where he developed a counseling and performance psychology program serving all 22 varsity teams.
“The mental health and well-being of UK student-athletes is a critical component of their performance, on and off the fields of play,” said Marc Hill, UK deputy director of Athletics.

“When we were looking for someone to fulfill this service, we were very happy to find Dr. Cormier and his expertise already here on our campus. His abilities have allowed countless student-athletes to be mentally on point while competing at the highest levels. He is absolutely worthy of this recognition.”

Cormier is a faculty member in the UK College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. There, he prepares master’s and doctoral level scholars in the Sport and Exercise Psychology program for careers in academia and as practicing sport and exercise psychology professionals.

“Dr. Cormier’s experience as a practitioner allows him to utilize real-world examples in the classroom and in his mentorship of the graduate students providing services to athletes under his supervision. He helps us start thinking like practitioners by providing a strong foundation and scenarios to enhance our training,” said Samantha Leavens, a UK Sport and Exercise Psychology master’s candidate who was among those who nominated Cormier for the award.

Athletes work with sport psychology professionals to improve performance, but also to address mental health concerns and other issues that can arise while balancing academics, practices and competition.

“Marc has been an integral part of our team as we have competed for championships the last few years,” said volleyball head coach Craig Skinner, whose team won the NCAA championship in April and has won four consecutive Southeastern Conference titles. “He provides a way to get us in the right mindset, helps the players stay in the moment when the pressure is on. He’s a good, calm communicator who relates to the stresses the players have in academics as well as athletics. Keeping everything in perspective is important and he understands that concept.”

Throughout his career, Cormier has gained a wide range of experiences that inform the mentoring and instruction he shares with students, including his time as a counselor and performance psychology consultant for 44 NCAA and NAIA teams. His professional certifications include being an Association for Applied Sport Psychology Certified Mental Performance Consultant, a member of the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology and Mental Training Registry and a licensed professional counselor.

“With a lengthy list of sport psychology experiences and accomplishments, it is amazing that Marc Cormier is still in the early stages of his career. As an advocate for his students and the field of sport and exercise psychology, Marc is an excellent resource for athletes on our campus and beyond. He is so deserving of this recognition from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology,” said Heather Erwin, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, where the Sport and Exercise Psychology graduate program is housed.

Cormier also received a nomination for the award from Vanessa Shannon, who mentored him during his doctoral studies at West Virginia University and is now the University of Louisville Athletic Department Director of Mental Performance.

“Marc strives daily to put theory into practice with the student-athletes, coaches and teams he serves while synchronously appreciating and being sensitive to all of the unique experiences and life stories those he serves bring with them. I am truly in awe of Marc’s ability to juggle all of the work he has done and all of ways that he has influenced the applied side of our field as an early career practitioner,” Shannon said.

Cormier’s connections to UK Athletics, as well as other collegiate programs, have helped provide opportunities for UK Sport and Exercise Psychology graduate students to provide consulting services under his supervision. The students hone their skills in the field, collaborating with coaches and other support areas, such as sports medicine, strength and conditioning and academic services, to provide holistic care to student-athletes.

“Every student to graduate from this program has successfully pursued their desired career path, whether that was continuing on to a highly respected Ph.D. program or obtaining a job. His former students have become performance psychology specialists with the U.S. military, NCAA athletics departments, in private practice, and with professional sport organizations. Thanks to Dr. Cormier, I have been able to thrive in the Sport Psychology master’s program and am confident in my ability to work in this field,” Leavens said.

To learn more about degrees in Sport and Exercise Psychology, visit the program’s website at https://education.uky.edu/khp/grad/sport-and-exercise-psychology/.