MANKATO — It’s hard to find a more positive person than Cindra Kamphoff. She’s all smiles, welcoming, full of positive energy.
Which is why it wasn’t a surprise to see so many people from the Minnesota State University community show up to the grand opening ceremony of the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology of which Kamphoff is director.
Kamphoff and the center have a lot of momentum right now, and the 50 or so people in the lobby outside the Stadium 6 theater — the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology is right next door — were proof of that.
Among the crowd was Aaron Keen, interim head football coach at MSU.
During the previous season, the football team went on an impressive run, finishing with record of 13-1 and ranked third nationally among Division II programs.
Keen attributes some of that success to his team’s work with Kamphoff, even if he entered the relationship not really knowing what to expect.
“It definitely made a difference, on and off the field,” Keen said.
Football coaches are good at training an athlete’s body. And they have ways to help players improve mentally. But working with Kamphoff, he said, showed him and his players new ways to think about performance.
The biggest difference, he said, was getting guys to stay in the moment. In many cases players are focused on the record, or on being champions. Kamphoff taught them ways to focus on getting better at completing the immediate task at hand. By doing that, Keen said, they’re able to reach those other goals, too.
Part of the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology’s goal is to reach out to the public and let them know the center is there for them, too. The reason they located the center off campus is so it’s easier for people to see it as something they have access to.
“We’re trying to make it reasonable,” Kamphoff said, referring to the fees the center will charge. They’re offering varying rates, including standard rates for work with licensed sports psychologists or reduced rates for work with students.
In addition to the grand opening, the center is hosting the inaugural North Central Sport Psychology Conference. About 60 people had registered for the two-day event that will feature talks from a handful of sports psychologists from MSU, the University of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and other institutions.
Kamphoff said she didn’t know if the center would be holding a second annual conference. But the administration seems to be behind her efforts.
“It’s her passion and her heart that have been a big part of this,” said Doug Mayo, vice president for university advancement. “This center is unique across the country.”