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Sam Zizzi Ed.D
As a proud Mountain State native and West Virginia University alumnus, Sam Zizzi is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of West Virginians via his role as the Dr. Pat Fehl Endowed Professor at the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.
Zizzi was drawn to the sport psychology field by bringing together his professional passion of psychology and his personal passion of sports. When working on his master’s degree, Zizzi had the opportunity to teach physical activity courses and enjoyed the experience of working with college students.
“I had excellent mentoring and that spurred me to be an excellent mentor. That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Zizzi said. “The relationships, the contacts, the mentoring, that’s where the value is. I love impacting students, but they also have an impact on me.”
The sportpsychology field is growing in popularity and gaining momentum in highlighting mental health as there is a great opportunity to help those specialized population of athletes. For Zizzi, the importance of educating the next generation goes beyond the classroom.
“My favorite part of working at WVU is seeing the students succeed and watching their growth and development,” Zizzi said. “That’s more meaningful to me than any grants, publications or books I have been involved with.”
When Zizzi is not in the classroom, he is active in the “Be Wild, Be Wonderful, Be Healthy” project, a joint initiative between WVU and the Centers for Disease Control to help reduce obesity and other chronic illnesses related to long-term unhealthy lifestyles.
Zizzi also serves as co-director of the Center for ActiveWV, which aims to boost physical activity levels among West Virginia children and adults through collaboration, research, policy and practice.
“As an endowed professor, that’s a gift that allows me to put it back into the state to promote physical activity and make a healthy lifestyle accessible,” Zizzi said. “Often, it’s an impact beyond the classroom to serve that land-grant mission and make a difference in communities.”
A former CPASS department chair, Dr. Pat Fehl established a $3.4 million endowment – the largest gift ever received in support of the College – focused on community-engaged research to advance health, wellness, and physical activity in West Virginia. Fehl is recognized for developing the College’s community-based Lifetime Activities programs for children and adults.
“I’m very thankful for her and her vision,” Zizzi said. “I don’t go a month that I am not mindful of the gift that [Fehl] paid forward. I see Dr. Fehl’s picture in CPASS, and every time I catch her eyes, I really try to take a moment and say thanks.”