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It’s Not P.E. Anymore

October 21, 2010

Kinesiology has evolved over the past 30 years from teaching students how to coach and teach physical education to a wide spectrum of medical-related disciplines relating to the human body’s motor mechanics.

Dr. Steven Snowden, ASU associate professor of kinesiology, stands at the forefront of teaching cutting-edge techniques for physical training and related fields.

The 2010 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award winner for the ASU College of Education, Snowden’s connection to athletics goes all the way back to his hometown of George West, about 90 miles south of San Antonio.

“I’ve always been around athletes and even after I got a doctorate, I got certified as an athletic trainer,” he said.

One of Snowden’s key tasks is staying on top of the changing kinesiology landscape.

“Every three years, we get new textbooks,” he said.  “The science area continues to evolve and things we thought 10 years ago, we now know are wrong.”

The study of exercise physiology requires a lot of memorization and groundwork before students reach advanced kinesiology classes.

“Dr. (Russell) Wilke does a great job prepping students,” Snowden said.  “They are so much better prepared coming from his class with basic anatomy and physiology concepts.  Then, I teach advanced physiology from acute and chronic exercise standpoints.”

Interest in kinesiology now focuses on motor mechanics, motor development, reflexes, strength conditioning, exercise conditioning, and testing and coronary health – a far cry from what used to be called P.E.

When he is teaching, Snowden likes to see “the light bulbs come on” after students ask questions and begin to understand what he is trying to get across to them.

“That’s the ‘A-Ha’ moment,” Snowden said.  “Those are the kids who are really in it to learn it, rather than the kids who want you to tell them what they need to know to pass the test.  I also still get the occasional kid who wants to be a P.E. teacher as well as students who are interested in sports management and recreation.  They may not be into what we are dealing with on a system or cellular level.  That’s not their main focus.”

Snowden’s focus is to teach students how the body adapts to the stress of exercise.

“I’ve always had an interest in the exercise science of what makes the body work, and how and why,” he said.

Outside the classroom, Snowden also demonstrated his commitment to his field as the ASU faculty athletic representative from 2006-09.  He is currently interim head of the Kinesiology Department.

Snowden received his doctorate and bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his master’s degree from Sam Houston State University.  Before coming to ASU, he taught at Texas Christian University as a clinical professor and served as the Athletic Training Education Program director.  He has also served as Department of Kinesiology chair at both Midwestern State University and Eastern New Mexico University.