Exercise & Sport Science

Western’s ESS program will prepare you for careers focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and enhancing performance in exercise, sport, and physical activity settings.

To help reach your professional goals, the ESS program at Western provides you with a unique educational experience, including:

  • Caring, student-centered faculty, who are accessible, approachable, and possess a wide range of expertise and professional experience
  • Small classes that ensure individual attention, including personalized one-on-one advising
  • An engaging learning environment, including multiple opportunities for "hands-on," applied learning and undergraduate research
  • Opportunities for professional networking, including conference attendance, and internships
  • The High Altitude Performance Lab, with state-of-the-art, exercise-testing equipment
  • Advising for graduate school and entry-level careers in ESS
  • ​Preparation for industry certifications
  • ASESS student majors club

What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

The ESS program helps you develop knowledge and skills required to complete nationally accredited certifications with the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Association of Sports Medicine and/or USA Weightlifting.  K-12 physical education majors will be prepared for Department of Education licensure requirements.  

You’ll have the chance to work in our High Altitude Performance Laboratory through coursework, volunteer work and undergraduate research opportunities. In addition to acquiring a variety of exercise testing skills, you’ll build communication, critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills working with individuals of all ages to develop and implement evidence-based activity and nutrition plans for healthy living.

Beyond the Classroom

Our program prepares students for leadership roles in the development and administration of fitness, wellness and sport programs in both private and public sectors through practicum, internship and field experiences. Through community partnerships, we have placed students in hospitals, assisted living centers, adaptive sport programs, worksite health promotion programs, commercial fitness centers, sport and exercise performance laboratories, community parks and recreation programs, as well as intercollegiate and professional sport organizations. Students have learning opportunities outside the Gunnison Valley, including trips to the United States Olympic Committee training facilities and professional sport venues, such as the Pepsi Center and Sports Authority Field.

Internship supervisors consistently describe our students as well as, or more prepared than undergraduate students from other institutions. Many students are hired following the conclusion of an internship.

ESS students have opportunities for service learning through initiatives such as Gunnison Community School health screening, Gunnison Valley Health annual health fair, adult fitness & wellness programming, and work with local nonprofit organizations, such as Gunnison Country Mentors, Six Points Evaluation and Training, and City of Gunnison Parks & Recreation. s.

After Graduation

Students with a major or minor in ESS can pursue entry-level careers in teaching, fitness, sport and wellness in both private and public sectors. Other students pursue graduate degrees in areas such as physical therapy (DPT), exercise physiology, nutrition, athletic training, cardiac rehabilitation, sport psychology, teacher education, sport administration or other allied-health fields.  Western is currently the only school in Colorado with a 3+1 agreement with the Palmer College of Chiropractic, allowing Western students who meet eligibility requirements to enroll at Palmer after three years at Western, completing the Western degree after the first year of Chiropractic school.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's ESS program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

Share your interest with friends and family: 
  1. Email this to your friends or family    Share on LinkedIn    Share on Google+    Twitter    Share this on Facebook

  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.


Samantha "Bob" Maddox
Samantha "Bob" Maddox is an Exercise & Sports Science major and Mountain Sports athlete.
Dr. Kathleen Kinkema
Kathleen Kinkema has been serving Western as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs since July 1, 2015.
Cassandra "Cassie" Ortiz
Double-major in Biology and Exercise & Sports Science, minor in Chemistry, Cross Country & Track Team, All-Academic honoree, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and so much more!
Joshua Bruning
Joshua Bruning, a 2009 Western graduate, is using his Exercise and Sport Science degree as a Operations Assistant with the Denver Broncos.


Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309. To find scholarships based on year of study (e.g. - Freshmen Scholarships), please see the navigation to the left.

 Degutis, Ernest Memorial Scholarship

Degutis, Ernest Memorial Scholarship

ESS Scholarship Available to:

Full-time students at Western who are Juniors or Seniors. Must be a declared major in Exercise and Sport Science. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or greater. Show outstanding achievement in four of the following five areas; Special Talents, Leadership, Obstacles Overcome, Community Service and Unique Endeavors.

ESS Scholarship Provided by:

The estate and family of Ernest Degutis.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western Exercise and Sport Science faculty in consultation with the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid as needed. Award made at the end of the spring semester each year.

Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209

Find out more about Western's Exercise and Sport Science at www.western.edu/ess

 RESS Student Professional Development Fund

RESS Student Professional Development Fund

Exercise and Sport Science Scholarship is Available to:

ESS and ROE majors who are full-time students at Western. The Student Professional Development Fund is to support professional activities such as professional certification exams, conference attendance, research, or other professional preparation activities. 

ESS Scholarship Provided by:

Alumni Donations 

Amount: Approximately $400 awarded every semester.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western RESS faculty committee  

Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209

Find out more about Western's Exercise and Sport Science Program at www.western.edu/ess.

Find out more about Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education Program at www.western.edu/roe.

 Eastman Awards in Recreation & Outdoor Education

Eastman Awards in Recreations & Outdoor Education (ROE)

The Eastman Awards recognize and encourage ROE majors who show diversity and outstanding achievement in the recreation field. There are 4 Eastman Awards available:

New Student Award

Open to both new freshmen and new transfer students. Students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and freshmen must also have a 21 ACT or 990 SAT. Students must also show a documented commitment to recreation as their major field of study at Western. Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

Special Recreational Talents
Unique Recreational Endeavors
Obstacles Overcome
Community Service

Achievement Award

available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students must act as an outstanding role model in and out of the classroom and uphold the values of the recreation and leisure profession.  Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

Special Recreational Talents
Unique Recreational Endeavors
Obstacles Overcome
Community Service

Service to Humanity Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors. Must provide documentation of their outstanding service project(s).

Eastman Academic Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.6 in the ROE program. Students must act as an outstanding academic role model.

Provided by: Don Eastman.
Amount: Amount depends on fund availability.
Selected by: Western ROE Faculty.
Application: Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 ESS 181 - Foundations of Exercise and Sport Science (3 credits)

An introduction to the field of exercise and sport science. An overview of philosophical, historical, and scientific foundations, current trends and issues, professional opportunities, and skills and competencies required for careers in a wide variety of physical activity settings.

 ESS 185 - Lifetime Wellness (3 credits)

Provides conceptual and experiential components designed as a basis for developing a healthier lifestyle.

 ESS 201 - Essentials Human Anatomy and Physiology (with laboratory) (4 credits)

An introduction to basic anatomy and physiology of all human systems. Lab and lecture are integrated. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

 ESS 275 - Motor Development and Learning (3 credits)

An application of the knowledge of motor development and learning to physical activity across the lifespan. This class introduces the physiological, perceptual, and cognitive, as well as the affective changes that occur in motor development and learning across the lifespan. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above.

 ESS 282 - Principles of Sport and Fitness Management (3 credits)

A focus on the administration of programs within the sport and fitness industries. Topics include administrative theories and concepts, personnel, communication and problemsolving, fiscal management, budgeting, ethical considerations, and program evaluation. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above, ESS 181, or instructor permission.

 ESS 290 - Curriculum Development and the Learning Environment (3 credits)

A comprehensive overview of materials, suggested teaching methods, procedures, techniques, well-directed and well-selected activities, and ways of evaluating physical education in K-12 schools.

 ESS 320 - Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (3 credits)

A variety of issues and research areas in the psychology of sport and physical activity are addressed. Topics covered include an overview of the development of sport and exercise psychology, personality theories, exercise and mood, exercise adherence, goal setting, motivation, psychological interventions for athletes, and cohesion theories. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing.

 ESS 330 - Exercise Physiology (3 credits)

An emphasis on the theory and principles of exercise physiology to health, physical fitness, and athletic performance in diverse populations. Prerequisites: ESS 201 or both BIOL 372 and BIOL 373; minimum Junior standing.

 ESS 331 - Exercise Physiology Laboratory (1 credits)

Basic laboratory techniques of exercise physiology correlating with ESS 330. Laboratory experiences include aerobic and anaerobic exercise, body composition, strength, flexibility, and body composition and other indicators of exercise. Prerequisites: completion of the College Mathematics course requirement; Corequisite: ESS 330.

 ESS 340 - Mental Training for Peak Performance (3 credits)

An application of theories and concepts of sport psychology. This course focuses onapplication of specific psychological skills necessary for high level performance andassisting students in teaching others those same skills. Prerequisite: ESS 320 or instructor permission.

 ESS 346 - Psychology of Coaching (3 credits)

Psychological factors involved in coaching and leadership are explored in this course. Relevant theory and research, as well as practical applications, are discussed. Topics include expert coaching characteristics and behaviors, leadership and motivational styles, the coach-athlete relationship, stresses of coaching, reinforcement strategies, ethics in coaching, and issues related to youth sport coaching. This course is designed for current and future coaches, individuals in leadership roles, as well as anyone interested in the coachÕs experience. Prerequisites: ESS 320, minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

 ESS 355 - Psychology of Injury (3 credits)

Psychological factors involved in sport-related injuries and the rehabilitation process. Course content includes relevant theory and research as well as practical applications. Topics include: stress, responses to injury, mental skills used to manage injury (i.e., goal setting, motivation, and confidence), social support, potential psychological problems faced during rehabilitation, and returning to sport after injury. Prerequisites: ESS 320, minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

 ESS 360 - Nutrition for Wellness and Performance (3 credits)

A focus on concepts geared to promote peak performance based upon nutritional intake. An understanding of macronutrient ingestion along with other essential nutrients is gained and applied in detail to the healthy and chronically diseased populations. This includes an understanding of the metabolic effect of food. The pros and cons of select supplements are discussed and applied to real-life scenarios. Prerequisites or co-requisites: ESS 330 and ESS 331.

 ESS 363 - Inclusive Physical Activity (3 credits)

Students develop knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals having diverse needs in physical education, recreation, sport, fitness, or rehabilitation settings. Content includes planning, instructional design, assessment, coordination of resources, and advocacy in physical activity settings. Prerequisites: ESS 275 and minimum junior standing.

 ESS 365 - Topics in Physical Activity: (3 credits)

Interdisciplinary study of the role of physical activity under a variety of conditions and settings, and for a variety of populations. Content focuses on current research and practice as it relates to the topic under consideration. Topics will rotate annually. Can be repeated up to three times for credit if a different topic is selected. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185; ESS 201 or BIOL 372; junior/senior standing.

 ESS 370 - Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3 credits)

Exercise prescription and conditioning in the form of resistance training, including the use of free weights, machines, Olympic lifts, and plyometrics. Muscular adaptations to anaerobic and aerobic training, testing and evaluation, exercise techniques, and resistance training program design. Design, implementation, and demonstration of appropriate resistance training routines and proper lifting technique for a variety of populations. Content knowledge aligns with requirements for completion of certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Prerequisite: ESS 330 or instructor permission.

 ESS 380 - Biomechanics (3 credits)

Investigation and analysis of human movement. Basic mechanical principles of force, motion, and aerodynamics as related to fundamental physical skills and their application to exercise, sport, and physical activity. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185, ESS 201 or BIOL 372, completion of the University Mathematics course requirement.

 ESS 382 - Management of Sport and Fitness Facilities (3 credits)

A study of principles, guidelines and recommendations for planning, construction, and the use and maintenance of indoor and outdoor sports, physical education, recreation, and fitness facilities. Prerequisite: Junior Standing.

 ESS 385 - Program Design for Physical Activity Settings (3 credits)

A focus on the principles of behavior modification and how they apply to programdesign and implementation in physical activity settings. Comprehensive behaviormodification programs within exercise, wellness or sport settings are designed.Prerequisite: ESS 185.

 ESS 392 - Methods of Secondary Activities (3 credits)

For students planning to obtain licensure in physical education. A variety of curriculum models (e.g., tactical, sport education, social responsibility) are used to present individual, dual and team sport activities. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented and assessed in keeping with Colorado and NASPE standards as they relate to secondary physical education. Prerequisites: 2 of the following: ESS 210, 211, 212, 213; ESS 290, minimum junior standing; Prerequisite or corequisite: ESS 350

 ESS 395 - Methods of Elementary Activities (3 credits)

Units covered may include apparatus and tumbling, dance, and games. Each unitbreaks down into sub-units, and progressions are emphasized. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented, and assessed in keeping with national standards and as they relate to elementary physical education. Competencies in the basic skills of each unit are also tested. Prerequisites: two of the following: ESS 210, 211, 212, 213; ESS 290; and minimum junior standing; Prerequisite or corequisite: ESS 350.

 ESS 396 - Methods of Alternative Physical Education (3 credits)

Units covered may be: Nordic skiing, rock climbing, orienteering, camping, mountain biking, and adventure activities. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented, and assessed in keeping with national standards as they relate to secondary physical education. Prerequisites: ESS 290 and minimum junior standing.

 ESS 410 - Assessment and Exercise Prescription (3 credits)

Students work with assessment formats, appraisal techniques, and metabolic calculations to gain information needed to construct exercise prescriptions designed to meet individual needs for different segments of the population. Prerequisites: ESS 331and ESS 298 or instructor permission.

 ESS 430 - Topics in Clinical Exercise Physiology (3 credits)

A study of diseased populations, including, but not limited to, exercise therapy in cardiac and cancer patients. Course content focuses on the etiology and pathophysiology of disease, electrocardiogram and diagnostic stress test interpretation, specialized exercise prescription, and other topics at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisites: ESS 330 and ESS 331.

 ESS 450 - Risk Management in Physical Activity Settings (3 credits)

A focus on risk assessment and management for physical activity professionals. Topics covered include risk assessment, standard of care, negligence, forms to limit liability, constitutional law as relevant for physical activity professionals, development of a risk management plan, and risk reduction strategies. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing.

 ESS 490 - Sociology of Sport and Physical Activity (3 credits)

A focus on the social organization of sport and physical activity and their relationship to the institutional structure, cultural patterns, and dynamics of American society. Students use different sociological approaches/theories to analyze sport and physical activity and to analyze current issues and problems in sport and physical activity settings. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing.

 ESS 495 - Senior Seminar in Exercise and Sport Science (3 credits)

A capstone course required for all ESS majors addressing issues, ethical considerations, problem-solving and decision-making, leadership and communication in the discipline. Students integrate content from their course of study, write and speak in discipline-specific formats, and complete a comprehensive self-assessment in preparation for graduate school, internship, or entry-level job. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185, senior standing. Students are encouraged to take this course during their final semester.

 ESS 498 - Internship in Exercise and Sport Science ( credits)

An opportunity for in-depth work at a professional site in an area of exercise and sport science. The internship must meet standards of the department and the University, including completion of a pre-internship checklist. Prerequisites: Satisfactory grade in ESS 405, overall GPA of 2.750, department advisor permission, and senior standing.

Faculty & Staff


High Altitude Exercise Physiology Director
BA, Mt. Holyoke College, MS, PhD, Colorado State University
Phone: (970) 943-2027
Office Location: Wright Gym 224
Lance Dalleck headshot
Assistant Professor of Exercise & Sport Science
BA, Western State Colorado University; MS, Colorado State University; PhD, University of New Mexico
Phone: (970) 943-7132
Office Location: Wright Gym 227
Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sport Science
B.S., Penn State University, M.A., PhD., West Virginia University
Phone: (970) 943-2241
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym room 234
Kathleen Kinkema
Associate VP Academic Affairs; Professor, Department of Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science
BA, Grand Valley State University; MS, PhD, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Phone: (970) 943-7133
Office Location: Wright Gym 229
Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Science
BA., Western State College
Phone: (970) 943-2083
Office Location: Wright Gym Pool
Lecturer in Exercise & Sports Science
B.A., Western State Colorado University, M.A.T., University of Northern Colorado
Phone: 970.943.2251
Office Location: Wright Gymnasium 234
Crystal Southall
Lecturer in Exercise & Sport Science
PhD, University of Northern Colorado, MS, University of Memphis, BA, University of Colorado, Boulder
Phone: 970.943.2149
Office Location: 233 Wright Gym
Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Science; Manager, High Altitude Performance Lab
B.S., Grand Valley State University; M.S., Northern Michigan University
Phone: 970.943.2104
Office Location: Wright Gymnasium 225