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Dr. Ralph A. Vernacchia, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Education, Health, and Recreation

Center of Performance Excellence
Western Washington University

Ralph Vernacchia, Ph.D. directs the undergraduate and graduate programs in sport psychology at Western Washington University, as well as WWU's Center for Performance Excellence.  He has presented extensively on variety of sport psychology topics throughout the nation and co-authored four sport psychology textbooks, including “Inner Strength” which was published in 2003.  He is a fellow and certified consultant of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). 

Dr. Vernacchia serves as a performance consultant to the Western Washington University Athletic Department and is a former Chair of the Sport Psychology Academy of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).  He is also Co-Chair of the USA Track and Field (USATF) Sport Psychology Sub-Committee and has traveled internationally as a performance consultant with several USA track and field teams, including the 2000 USA Olympic Track and Field Team that competed in Sydney, Australia. 

He has been inducted into the Western Washington University Athletic Hall-of-Fame in honor of his accomplishments as Western's cross country and track and field coach from 1973-1987. Dr. Vernacchia served as the distinguished visiting professor in the department of physical education at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY for the 2003-04 academic year.  He was also inducted into the National Association of Physical Education Hall of Fame in 2005. 





 Brook Skidmore 

 Graduate Teaching Assistant Department of Physical Education, Health, and    Recreation

    Student Coordinator
    Center for Performance Excellence
    Western Washington University





Brook obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Physical Education: Fitness and Wellness Management. She then worked for two years at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in SLC, training athletes in proper running mechanics and power/speed enhancement. She obtained her first Master’s degree from Springfield College in Exercise Science and Sport Studies: Strength and Conditioning. After teaching at the College of Southern Idaho in the Physical Education department for three years, she decided to go back to school for her second Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. She has taught a wide range of both fitness and academic classes, and has also served as a personal trainer. She is thrilled to be combining the two sides of training essential for excellent performance, that is, both physical and mental conditioning. She played volleyball, basketball, and golf in high school, and continues to enjoy running, lifting, swimming, biking, golfing, hiking, and playing racquetball.



Current Sport Psychology Graduate Students


Alex Farley



Alex grew up in Spokane, WA, and participated in skiing, volleyball, and tennis throughout her adolescence and high school career. She attended the University of Idaho, where she was on the downhill ski club her freshman year, and then finished her time with the Vandals in the Athletic Training Program. While at the University of Idaho, she worked with men’s and women’s basketball, track, and tennis, as well as women’s soccer and football. She traveled and worked with the U of I football team in 2009-2010, where they won the Humanitarian Bowl at the end of their season.

After graduating with a B.S. in Athletic Training in 2010, Alex became the head athletic trainer for Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho, until spring of 2013. She worked with all levels of football, soccer, XC, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, softball, baseball, tennis, and track and field while at MVHS. She is currently working towards her Master’s in Sport Psychology at WWU. When she graduates she is hoping to work with Wounded Warriors.


Piper Marshburn


Piper was born and raised in Corona, CA. She is an avid swimmer who pursued her collegiate swimming career at Delta State University, in Cleveland Mississippi. While there, she obtained her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology. Outside of the classroom, she was a distance swimmer on the Delta State’s Swim & Dive team for all four years. During her final year, she was captain of the women’s team that went on to become Gulf-South Conference 2013 champions. She retired from swimming after completing her collegiate career. She is now here at Western pursuing her Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. Piper’s future plans include becoming a certified consultant through AASP, and working with USA Swimming.


Matthew Vezzani

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Matthew grew up in Gig Harbor, WA, and completed his undergraduate degree at WWU. His love of sport was developed playing baseball full-time, until an injury during his senior year of high school ended his career. His interest Sport Psychology started as an undergraduate when he began studying the benefits of mental skills for athletes. He is now a graduate student in the Sport Psychology program at WWU, and plans to get his AASP certification to become a sport psychology consultant and help athletes improve their performance. His research interests include mental characteristics of elite athletes, how psychology can help build these characteristics, how athletes can use mental skills to enhance performance, and the benefits of CrossFit.