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Alvernia University’s new Sports Psychologist

by Megan Bruno, Alvernia University, citizen contributor

Nov 16, 2018

October 15th kicked off another season for the Alvernia men and women’s basketball teams. But there is a new member on this year’s women’s team. Richard Alan Neff Jr, or as we on the team call him “Doc Neff”, our new sports psychologist. The team has had about five meetings with Doc Neff already this season.

Through this interview I asked him questions to help understand his job and motivation. I asked, “why he wanted to pursue sports physiology?” Doc Neff always had an interest in why athletes become great athletes. When he was young, he was very intrigued by the human brain, his mother is a nurse and he said at home they would watch medical shows which was where he first noticed how much interest he had for the mind and body. Doc Neff said “I thought I can’t play professional sports, so what better way to help athletes then to help them understand the mind and body connection to help with performance. And combining my three true loves of sports, biology and psychology.”

During his college career he realized that sports psychology was what he wanted to do, around his sophomore year while playing baseball. His interest in psychology made him think that his mind could give him an edge over his teammates to become the number one in rotation. Some of the major athletes he has worked with are from the college level, professional level, and overseas. Due to confidentiality reasons Doc Neff could not mention some of  their names but he did name others. He has worked with the Reading High School men’s basketball team and still to this day works with Lonnie Walker, who is currently playing now with the San Antonio Spurs, a first round draft pick. Also, Louis King a freshman this year at the University of Oregon who Doc Neff believes will be a first round pick in the NBA draft this year. There is Gavin Schilling who played for Michigan State University and is currently a German professional basketball player. Another player named Jack Forrester at Indiana University. Doc Neff said that all these players have given him permission to say their names and that he works with them.

As these players are scattered across the country most of his sessions are over facetime, skype, text messaging or phone calls. He also said “I also work with female athletes who play overseas or in the WNBA and this year is my first time working with a women’s team. His goal this year working with the Alvernia’s women’s basketball team is “to bring perspective to training and performance and to bring an understanding that everything we do when it comes to performance really beings in the mind. And the more that we are in control of our mind and our thinking and the more we understand, why we are who we are, and in the matter of excelling as a teammate, a player, a leader and not only on the court but also excelling academically and our personal lives.” As his first year as a member of the Alvernia’s women’s basketball team he would like to make all of us the best version of ourselves – on and off the court.

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