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Life University may be home to fewer than 3,000 students, but its reach is far beyond its 110-acre campus in Marietta—particularly for athletes and professionals in the sport health science field. Since 2014, they have been able to take advantage of the incredible opportunities offered by the Life Sport Science Institute (LSSI), a department within the university that is dedicated to optimizing performance, reducing injuries and maximizing lifelong wellness for athletes across all sports. In fact, the LSSI is quickly becoming recognized as the preeminent performance-centered vitalistic institution in the world.
“The Life Sport Science Institute has a widespread impact on not only the Life University campus, but far beyond on a national and international level,” says Life University President Dr. Rob Scott. “Our expert faculty and staff in this department are dedicated to increasing the performance of every individual in the world to their optimal level, and through their innovative techniques, teaching, conferences and research, the institute is making that lofty goal a reality every day.”
Led by Dr. Mark Kovacs, an associate professor within the college’s Department of Sports Health Science, the LSSI focuses its work on four key areas: sports performance, athletic care and performance, community engagement and applied and clinical research. With these in mind, the institute provides current students at the undergraduate and graduate levels with access to educational opportunities, hands-on practical experiences and research initiatives that are done in collaboration with a staff of leading sport health science faculty, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning professionals and chiropractors, among many others.
The LSSI also offers a series of highly anticipated conferences, seminars, workshops and educational events year-round that help students and faculty prepare themselves to solve the unique challenges of those who engage in elite sports. For instance, the National Coaching Conference is held in coordination with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Strength and Condition Association and the National Federation of High School Sports on the Life University campus and provides those in attendance with vital research-based coaching information. The Baseball and Sports Performance Conference focuses on sports medicine, specifically chiropractic and athletic training, and as many as 15 Major League Baseball teams have been represented at the event in years past. And the annual World Tennis Conference is presented for healthcare providers in the tennis world, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, strength coaches and chiropractors; nearly every NCAA Division 1 university ensures that it sends someone to attend the conference each year.
During each conference, participants—some who have traveled from as far as Sweden, Austria or Serbia—focus on quality training and treatments of athletes, specifically how they can do a better job of using evidence-based research to train and coach athletes so that they can perform better on and off the field while also potentially reducing the likelihood of an injury. The events also introduce attendees to Life University itself and everything it has to offer.
“These conferences are a great way to bring people to Atlanta, bring people to Life University and really share good, quality education,” Kovacs says. “We have a lot of people coming from out West that have maybe never heard even of the university, but when they get on campus, they are blown away with the beauty of it, the engaged student population and our strong faculty.”
Kovacs notes that the work of the institute has been deemed a success. “It’s been phenomenal,” he states. “The amount of quality researchers, coaches, athletes and speakers we’ve had on campus is a great way to showcase our campus and the degree programs, while also helping our students get exposed to some of the top-level folks in their fields of study.”
This national and international exposure also helps when recruiting new students to the campus. “As a student, you want to go to a place with great academics, but a place that is also tactically focused on the real-world work experience,” Kovacs says. “We have to stay up to date on what these leagues, athletic departments and professional teams want and need and make sure our students have the skill set that is needed in the workforce.”
As far as what the future holds for the LSSI, Kovacs and the department’s team are looking to continue to bolster student engagement. “We are doing a lot with our current students, such as internship programs and research studies many of our students are undertaking,” he concludes. “It’s a major focus of ours to help students get great jobs.”
For more information about the Life Sport Science Institute, visit lssi.life.edu. To learn more about Life University, visit life.edu.