Sport Psychology Giveaway-athon Origins and History

Judy Van Raalte, a past president of Div. 47, developed and facilitated what Div. 47 has come to embrace as the Giveaway-athon. Since 2003, Division. 47 has worked to give back to the APA convention host city community. The Giveaway-athon allows sport psychology professionals the opportunity to give sport psychology workshops, lectures, and presentations to local athletes, coaches, and teams.


Dr. Michael Sachs, with the help of Alison Ives and Anna-Marie Jaeschke conducted a workshop on “Psychology of Running: Mental Strategies to enhance training, performance and the enjoyment of running”. The workshop was conducted at the Potomac River Running Company in Arlington, VA.


2010's Giveaway-athon consisted of a presentation to an inquisitive group of Masters swimmers and triathletes at UC San Diego during the APA Convention. Psychologists Jen Carter and Kurt Meyers joined doctoral students Cassie Pasquariello (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Lani Lawrence (University of Denver) to deliver the presentation "Dive Right In: Mental Skills for Swimmers and Triathletes". The presentation started off with a focus game that got the competitive juices flowing, and then covered the finer points of a pre-race routine, before finishing with some tips for managing anxiety, particularly for open-water swimming. The swimmers got really involved, asking some awesome questions. Coach Sickie, famous in southern California for his enthusiasm and fried surfer blond hair, had this to say almost a month later: "The lecture was fantastic! Everyone loved it, and today, I still had someone come up to me and asked me some questions about what you covered in the lecture. Man, that's staying power for sure!"


The 2009 Giveaway-athon was with a master’s swim team in Toronto: the North York Gators. Division 47 members Glenn Pfenniger and Jennifer Carter facilitated the session. They had the opportunity to get to know the team before the presentation when Glenn chatted up the coach on deck while Jen swam the workout with the team. Since they would be discussing mental toughness in their session, Jen felt pressure not to wuss out on the sprint 50’s at the end of practice!

Twenty swimmers attended the presentation. The facilitators started with a focus game that brought out some laughter and competition among the group. Then they reviewed goal-setting principles, refining one swimmer’s goal of breaking 1:00 in the 100 meter Freestyle. They ended on a discussion of pre-race routines. The coach and swimmers were enthusiastic participants who asked many questions, making the presentation a blast! Team members were encouraged to follow up with any future questions via email and some of them have already taken us up on that offer.


The 5th annual Division 47 Sport Psychology Giveaway-athon at the 2008 APA Conference showcased a broad range of participants. Collaboration between local coaches, sport psychologists, volunteers, and athletes resulted in the largest Giveaway-athon effort (in terms of number of attendees) to date.

Joe Tranchita from Waltham Track Club organized a large group of runners (ranging in age from youth athletes to masters competitors and including coaches) for a presentation by Dr. Steve Portenga at the Waltham Government Center auditorium.

Andy Crane and his colleague Ananth Pandian arranged for Sport Psychology to be given away at Tenacity Summer Tennis and Reading Program sites. In 2007, Tenacity's free seven-week program served 4,600 Boston youth at 30 neighborhood sites providing tennis and structured reading sessions designed to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer so they are ready for school. It was a win-win opportunity for the Sport Psychology Giveaway-athon be a part of this outstanding program. Giveaway-athon presenters at Tenacity sites included Kim Cochrane, Aaron Dennis, Stephanie Habif, Katie Kilty, and Carolyn Youren.

Adam Naylor was instrumental in facilitating presentations for other Giveaway-athon presentations. Thanks also to Amy Baltzell and John McCarthy who identified several Giveaway-athon presenters in the Boston area.


Mike Johnson, Chris Carr, and Wendy Borlabi were the presenters for the 2007 Giveaway-athon in San Francisco, CA. The attendees were youth swimmers and their parents. The presentations consisted of an overview of sport psychology and two workshops. The larger group was divided into one group of athletes and one group of parents with workshops addressing specific needs of each group. Although this years presentations were smaller than the previous years, the enthusiasm surrounding the Giveaway-athon continues to increase.


In keeping with the spirit of past Division 47 Giveaway-athons, members of the Division volunteered to contribute to rebuilding the host city, New Orleans. Instead of free services, the 2006 Giveaway-athon involved joining with the other APA members and divisions to help Habitat for Humanity construct homes in the upper Ninth Ward. Although it was different than the past years, the 2006 Giveaway-athon was one of the most rewarding for the Division and the people of the Ninth Ward.


Washington, DC hosted the Giveaway-athon in 2005. There were a variety of presentations made to youth athletes, parents, inner city high school football players, and business consultants looking to apply sport psychology principles in the business world. As in previous years, the interest and demand increased. In order to fill such interest, a number of Division 47 members were asked and/or volunteered to take part in the presentations. The 2005 Giveaway-athon presenters consisted of Christine Sanchez, Gloria Balague, Kirsten Peterson, Mitch Abrams, Renee Newcomer, Hope Jones, and Molly Thompson. The year brought a new set of challenges including time and space limitations, and an increase in the breadth the necessary expertise to address the requests for presentation topics. As expected, the members of Division 47 rallied together to conduct remarkable and exciting presentations.


In 2004, the APA convention was in Hawaii. Although, organizing was more difficult from the "mainland," the Giveaway-athon proved to be very productive. One of the many presentations given in Hawaii was by Dan Gould to the University of Hawaii's coaches. Other presentations were geared toward elite athletes preparing for competitions, weekend warriors, and exercisers. An unexpected bonus for those involved in this Giveaway-athon was the opportunity to learn and embrace the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of Hawaii. In Hawaii there is no racial majority, everyone is a minority.


The "trial run" in 2003 was a great success involving Ken Ravizza and Rob Fazio presenting to a large coaching group and athlete summer campers in Toronto. In addition to the presentations and workshops, a list of sport psychologists in the Toronto area was developed for those coaches and athletes interested in additional information or consultation.


Ariana Smith-Machin, PhD, CC-AASP
Machin Counseling and Sport Psychology
Serving Western Pennsylvania and Greater DC/VA area
Telephone: (612) 360-0329