Children First: Students travel overseas to study athlete angst - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Students travel overseas to study athlete angst

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Ten students and one professor from KOTA Territory are on their way to South Korea to attend a world-wide event that will help with their current research project.

"You can't learn something like this in the classroom," said Alyssa Niesen, a Psychology/Sociology double major at Black Hills State University.

Doctor Emilia Boeschen and her team of ten students from Black Hills State University in Spearfish are studying a topic that Boeschen says has been neglected from research books in the past.

"In the Psychological Scientific literature there's nothing out there about athlete's with intellectual disabilities and their experiences of what we've come to know as competitive anxiety," said Dr. Boeschen, an Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Sweaty palms, a racing heart, and nervousness before competing in a sport are all considered competitive anxiety.

"Ultimately the goal is to give a voice to a population that has been overlooked," said Boeschen.

Her research team attended Special Olympics events across South Dakota to learn from, observe, and interview the competitors.

"The overall question that we're asking is- how do these athletes deal with pressure," said Janie Borkowski, a Psychology major.

"The way they host the events is very different. It was a little more laid back. It seemed people were there simply to participate rather then to win something," said Peter Soverns, a Psychology/Sociology double major.

After gathering information in the U.S.; the team is traveling to South Korea for the Special Olympics World Games. In South Korea the team will further it's research on athletes with intellectual disabilities.

"We want to see, is there something about the way that an athlete with an intellectual disability experiences sports and competition that we can even learn from," said Dr. Boeschen.

In the end Boeschen says it's all about the learning experience, rather then the publication; a lesson the student's took to heart.

"It's teaching us a lot about the Special Olympics, and it's teaching us a lot about being in a different country. But I think it's teaching us a lot about ourselves too," Borkowski said about the research project.

Their entire trip will last about 15 days.

Doctor Boeschen said the students helped raise nearly all the travel funds in just a few short months; thanks in part to generous private donations.

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