Shenandoah University student Patrick Maneval ’23 plans to one day become a sport psychologist specializing in mental performance, mental health, and the impact that different psychological approaches to sport performance have on athlete development. He gained a valuable perspective while working closely with professional athletes during an internship last summer.
Throughout the summer of 2022, and through the first month of SU’s Fall 2022 semester, Maneval served as a high-performance coaching intern for the Washington Spirit, a professional women’s soccer team in Washington, D.C. (Shenandoah and the Spirit began a formal partnership in 2021 to provide free classes to players in exchange for internships, hospitality and promotion.)
His responsibilities with the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champs included preparing pre- and post-workout nutrition for players, assisting with data collection via wearable technology to help determine load management and conditioning, prepping the weight room and field for team use, and assisting with rehab programs and performance team meetings.
Maneval, a student-athlete who is double-majoring in exercise science and psychology, said he wanted to experience a summer internship before graduating from Shenandoah in May, so he worked with SU Transfer Admissions Counselor Brian Lee, who was then working in Career & Professional Services, and Assistant Vice President for Student Leadership and Development Fritz Polite, Ph.D., on how to prepare himself to interview for internship opportunities with the Spirit.
Though the role didn’t delve into the psychological side of athletic activity and performance, it provided Maneval with valuable firsthand experience.
I found the direct work with athletes to be most rewarding, whether it was assisting with return-to-play protocols, leading parts of the warmup, or helping manage physical loading with the wearable technologies. I loved the hands-on experience this internship provided in so many respects to my degree. Helping others achieve their goals and overcome any hurdles they may face was very rewarding.”
Patrick Maneval ’23
Maneval worked at the Spirit’s facilities at Audi Field (Washington, D.C.) and Segra Field (Loudoun County, Virginia) during training sessions and home gamedays. When Washington played on the road, Maneval said he performed more individualized work with athletes who stayed behind to train or rehab from injuries.
Maneval, who is a member of Shenandoah’s cross country and track and field programs, said he continued working with the Spirit through the end of the NWSL season, as his schedule allowed, even after Shenandoah’s fall semester began in late August. The Spirit’s season ended on Oct. 1.
As part of the internship, Maneval helped gather data on player movement, distance covered, speed, heart rate, touches on the ball and other metrics using GPS, heart-rate monitors and Playermaker wearable technology that straps to players’ cleats. Maneval said technology assisted in determining how rigorous an individual’s training session should be and in measuring athlete progression.
Maneval was responsible for ensuring each athlete had their wearable technology units before they began training and, with his supervisor, helped monitor the athletes’ loads during the training sessions. After each session, Maneval and his supervisor would download all of the data to cut and analyze.
Maneval said his biggest takeaway from the whole experience was to “be the best you can be at whatever you do.”
“Whether you’re an intern or a high-performance director, you can make an impact. Have confidence in your ability and skill in the workplace, while maintaining your capacity to learn and grow,” Maneval said. “There are going to be learning opportunities each and every day, so make the most of it!”
After graduating in May, Maneval plans to pursue a master’s degree in sport psychology while also becoming a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) in order to develop a “deeper understanding of the physiological demands” in sports in addition to the psychological demands.
Waking up everyday and genuinely being excited to go into work was such a great feeling. The entire organization was very welcoming and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity.”
Patrick Maneval ’23