Champagne bottles were popped on Tuesday, January 16, as the University of Windsor’s first PhD candidate in kinesiology, Matt Hoffmann, successfully defended his dissertation, “Toward a Deeper Understanding of Peer Athlete Mentoring in Sport: A Comprehensive Investigation.”
Dr. Hoffmann’s research explored the nature of peer-to-peer mentoring relationships between elite-level athletes through three separate studies. The intent of the research is to help teams find the edge in competitive sport.
“Teams are utilizing advanced nutrition, training, analytics to gain a competitive edge — we wanted to prove that group dynamics and mentoring can also provide teams and athletes and edge,” he said.
The theme of the dissertation was very fitting for the department’s first doctoral grad, said graduate co-ordinator Jess Dixon.
“For many years, we had been training and mentoring our master’s students to be successful researchers, only to see them go to other institutions to complete their PhDs,” Dr. Dixon said. “Now, having a candidate who has completed his or her PhD, we can demonstrate and exemplify the outstanding research kinesiology is producing at all levels of post-secondary education. A successful PhD program provides value to all areas of a department.”
Hoffmann, who also completed his MHK in Windsor, noted that his PhD process was a long one, equating the PhD to training for a marathon.
“Every day of the PhD is a grind. It takes tenacity and dedication, not just talent,” he said. “The comprehensive exams were very challenging, as was the time dedicated to learning new ways in which to manipulate my data sets.”
He said his fellow doctoral students helped him through the program.
“It was like peer mentoring in a sense,” said Hoffman. “We were there for each other. We were all going through this new process together and we really helped each other get to the end.”
Hoffmann’s advisor, professor Todd Loughead, said he was most impressed with Hoffmann’s ability to learn and develop skills as both a quantitative and qualitative researcher.
“What is unique with Matt is that he knows both sides of research methods extremely well. He challenged convention and pushed to develop new gold standards in examining and manipulating the data,” Dr. Loughead said.
And while Hoffman praises the writing and research skills he gained from his advisor, he appreciates the personal bond the two developed.
“Our relationship began as a standard advisor-student relationship when I was a master’s student,” Hoffman said. “The relationship is a large reason why I continued my PhD and I can truly say that Todd is now a great friend.”