With a history dating back to 1956, the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness (WSKW) has a rich history and ongoing commitment to probing the challenges of our time through networking, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas across disciplines. This is the mission statement of the WSKW. I had never heard of this group until I received an email solicitation for proposals from the president-elect who is at San Jose State University. Since it was small and regional, I thought I should submit two student collaboration projects that would have a good chance of being accepted and the students would be able to attend the conference. The two proposals for poster presentations were accepted but none of the students could attend the conference because they are currently in graduate programs or working, so it was left to me to present the posters.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM THIS CONFERENCE
Reno at its finest is not…that fine. The conference is held every year at Harrah’s Reno Casino (unless they go out of business…this statement is included in the official minutes of the conference). So unless you enjoy smoking, gambling, liquor, and …well you get the picture. One positive…I attended all of the sessions because other than going down the street to the gym (because the Harrah’s gym was closed), what else was I going to do?
Professors Have Issues too
Just because you have a Ph.D. does not mean you come drama free. At the evening welcome reception, I was trying to mingle since I did not know anyone and was talking to a professor of dance from another university when a man came up to us and was very upset. Come to find out he was about to get into a brawl over some graduate student that he thought pushed his wife. So I proceeded to talk him down so he did not have to spend time in the Reno pokey. Got to hear some good stories about sabotage and backstabbing. Nice to see that politics hits everyone. No one is immune.
Poster Sessions Can Be Boring
Anyone that has done a poster session knows that standing around waiting for someone to show interest in your work for an hour and half can be boring. You tend to try to leave your area and read other posters. The solution is to study subjects that people can personally relate to and then they just want to talk and tell you their story and not find flaws in your statistics. Works well for me since my mind works on a basic level that most people can relate to. One of the posters was on concussions and the athletes in attendance were interested, and the other one was on fan identity and attendance and the students and faculty were interested in that one. Therefore, I had people to talk to so I didn’t have to just stand there looking bored.
Professors attend conferences for many reasons. First and foremost is to disseminate findings from our research. We network, we learn from other research, we socialize. I did all of these things at this small conference. I met a man, Dr. Bob Peavey who had attended this conference since it started and was a pioneer in physical education. We started talking because we were both freezing in the room and decided to warm our hands on the centerpiece candle.
Turns out, Dr. Peavey who was at Washington State University, was a mentor to my good friend, a professor emeritus from Cal Poly SLO. So we talked and then sat together at lunch the next day. A man, at 84, still attending conferences and keeping his mind engaged. Dr. Peavey passed away two months later and it was a privilege to talk to him at his last conference.
Another professor that was a leader in dance and physical education started talking to me and said: “Can I talk to you, I just need to talk to someone about this…” Listened to her story and ended up eating dinner with her the next night and being invited to share a room with her at the national conference in Boston.
I received a couple of linkedin requests from graduate students that enjoyed my engagement with them during the poster session and wanted to stay in touch. I was able to talk to professors from La Sierra and tell them about what we are doing and open up conversations for possible collaborations.
So for my first time attending this conference, I came away with a rewarding time. I believe I was able to help others by just listening to their stories.