A Team that Functions as a Family

Nestled on the first floor of the Kinesiology Building is the human performance laboratory – home to elaborate machinery and a group of students who share a same passion and call themselves a family.

Their close bond isn’t the only thing notable; Cal State Fullerton has the No. 1 strength program in California and one of the top programs in the country.

It is no secret that sports are a huge part of our society. But behind the sport, behind the team and behind the athlete lies technique. That’s where the research going on in the human performance lab comes into play – to help improve and enhance movement.

The strength and conditioning program is a two-year graduate program that focuses on a holistic view of sports and all things having to do with human movement. The program encompasses sports science and consists of innovative ways to explore sport performance and awareness.

Their mission is to learn how to use one’s body to the fullest extent.

They specialize in muscle power and hypertrophy, studying explosive, fast, powerful movements that almost all sports consist of – force, speed, running, kicking, jumping, cycling, swinging a baseball bat, etc.

A collage of pictures covers one of the walls in the lab. Professor Lee Brown, director of the Center for Sport Performance and former president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, proudly displays pictures of all his current students; he calls it his wall of fame.

The wall directly across has dozens of articles taped to it, all of which are the works of students that have recently been published in prestigious journals.

Vanessa Cazas, a graduate student at CSUF with a bachelor’s in kinesiology and sports management, is working at getting her master’s in sport performance. Once graduated, she ideally hopes to work with athletes.

Cazas takes pride in her association with the strength and conditioning program. She said it is gratifying to see her classmates get their theses published.

She is even more proud of the recognition she and her colleagues receive off campus. “When we go to NSCA conferences, our program at Cal State Fullerton is highly recognized,” said Cazas.

The NSCA is an international nonprofit educational association. It is comprised of a vast network of members who develop and present the most advanced information regarding strength training and conditioning practices, injury prevention and research findings.

It is through the NSCA that CSUF students in the strength and conditioning program gain recognition, grants, funding for research and education and scholarship money.

Brown’s pride of his students’ innovative research on sport performance is lavishly displayed, and his support toward his students, who are striving to be part of the best master’s program in the United States, is abundant.

“Other Cal States and UCs send their students to us. I am proud of my students,” said Brown.

Jeremy Tan, a CSUF grad student with a bachelor’s in fitness and health promotion, is working on his master’s in sport performance. His ultimate goal is to work with middle-aged or the older adult population to rehabilitate their injuries and help the disabled.

“People don’t understand why they workout. They take their body’s movements for granted. This program has created a passion in me. It has inspired me to apply what I learned and help others,” said Tan.

Tan admits that he loves the interaction between the professor and students in the program. “I never had such a tight bond with my classmates and professor in any of my undergrad classes. I recommend people to get in while they can; they will definitely enjoy it.”

In his final words on the program, Brown said, “We challenge one another all the time. We are a big family. In sports terms, we are a team. We win together, and we lose together.”

After a pause he looked up and corrected himself. “But we don’t lose. We come out on top every time.”