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Judy Van Raalte and Britton Brewer to speak at the 2022 Graduate Commencement

Irene Rotondo

The intersection between mental health and athletics is a hot topic at Springfield College, and it speaks to other themes the school’s mission holds near and dear — to take care of those around you, while exhibiting school spirit.

It’s only fitting that the Graduate Commencement speakers will carry those themes on through to graduation day. Two nationally-known athletic counselors and researchers in the field of sport psychology, Judy Van Raalte and Britton Brewer, have been selected to speak on May 14 for the ceremony.

In a first for the College, the married pair of veteran and distinguished faculty in the Department of Psychology will share the honor. Both Van Raalte and Brewer have been at the College for over 30 years and have built remarkable careers in the fields of sport and exercise psychology. As professors of psychology at the College, the couple is thrilled to speak amongst their colleagues alongside each other and help celebrate the graduates.

“It feels like a Spider-Man moment, like a great honor and responsibility,” Van Raalte said.

“We want to do it justice for the students and their families… it’s a lovely honor and a challenge we’re taking very seriously to do a good job.”

Van Raalte and Brewer met in graduate school and have been married since 1990. The couple’s list of accolades and accomplishments is long: highlights include doctoral degrees from Arizona State University, 269 pieces of scholarly output (books, chapters, and articles) between them, awards from four nationally recognized psychology associations, serving as chairpeople for multiple thesis committees, presenting their research globally — just to name a few.

Following this year, Brewer will retire from the College. He said he will still be busy, with “backlogs” of years of work he can finally finish after leaving his faculty position.

“I’ve been going to school in one capacity or another for more than 50 years. I figure that’s kind of a lot; [time to] give other folks the chance to participate,” Brewer said.

Van Raalte will keep her position as graduate Director of the Athletic Counseling program. She was the 2019-20 Distinguished Professor of Humanics and a Visiting Scholar at Wuhan Sports University.

Raalte said her experience at Wuhan Sports University has reinforced her love of Springfield College because it allowed her to see the similarities and differences between the issues students face on each campus, and to better understand the psychology behind it.

“One of the things I love about being at Springfield College, or working in this field, is ideas and input from people — all the different things enrich each other,” Van Raalte said.

“Being involved at Springfield College, I get one point of view, but interacting with the students in China gives me another perspective about what’s important and what people are doing.”

Through both Brewer’s and Van Raalte’s extensive and highly-celebrated research, the pair has reached a deep understanding of the relationship between mental health and athletics.

Their positions as those who care for others’ mental health, along with being an advocate for those affected in the realm of sports psychology, will make Van Raalte and Brewer the ideal speakers at the Graduate Commencement ceremony as the students close their Springfield College chapter.

Photos Courtesy Springfield College

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