Avila University
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AU Spotlight
Submitted February 25, 2009
Bridging the gap between science and practice


Gerald Larson, Ph.D.,
Sport Science professor
Member of Avila since 2008

Avila University’s Sport Science professor Gerald Larson, Ph.D., is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between science and practice through his teaching, research, curriculum development and volunteering.

After playing baseball and football throughout college, and competing in powerlifting and Tae Kwon Do before completing his master’s degree, Larson said these competitive experiences shaped his method of teaching.
“As a four-year starter in both sports [baseball and football] I developed a strong appreciation for the relationship between preparation and performance, whether academic or athletic,” Larson said. “This enables me to embrace students who possess a nominal interest in the sciences, and through application of content to their own lives, help them mature into competent, science-oriented researchers and practitioners.”

Larson said that a sports and rehabilitation science program should be more than a cluster of classes that advance a student towards a degree. Avila’s program focuses on helping people with injuries, illness and chronic pain. It also focuses on research to extend youthfulness prevent disease and improve sport performance.

“Our program is about helping people in need and challenging those who are healthy to reach their potential,” Larson said. “When students complete my class I would like them to have clarity about fundamental content, confidence they can make a difference, and courage to challenge the status quo.”

"...this enables me to embrace students who possess a nominal interest in the sciences, and through application of content to their own lives, help them mature into competent, science-oriented researchers and practitioners."

Larson is currently completing research focusing on PowerPlate™ whole body vibration training. Avila’s Sports Science program is one of the few university programs in the country to have this equipment that can implicate information on healthy aging and sport performance.

“It is also an excellent teaching tool for undergraduate sport science students because it has the potential to influence all components of the human movement system,” Larson said.

Larson has also developed a continuing education curriculum for assessing and treating movement impairment syndromes of the spine, shoulder, and lower extremity. This curriculum has been nationally approved for manual therapists, athletic trainers, and physical therapists.

When not in the classroom, Larson volunteers with Special Olympics, including his participation in the annual Polar Bear Plunge fundraising event. He also makes time to support the Avila Eagle athletes by attending as many games as he can.

“I think Avila has a good group of coaches and in my opinion the athletic trainers—Jason Means, Head Athletic Trainer and Candace Godwin, Assistant Athletic Trainer are second to none,” Larson said. “However, all these sport events are subordinate to the sporting activities of my daughter and son or taking weekend trips with my family.” AU