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In March, Heather Betancourt was named the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Sports Science Professional Scholarship during the 3 Worlds of Sports Science Conference, a virtual event presented by the University of Pittsburgh and Hawkin Dynamics. 

The scholarship acknowledges and supports students in the Master of Science in Sports Science program at Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) who demonstrate high-level scholastic achievement and professional skills in the field of sports science. This honor is more than just personal recognition for Betancourt—it will help pave the way for future women in the sports science field. “There have been many women strength and conditioning coaches that have developed sports science practices as part of their professional skill set, years before this program at Pitt was developed,” she explains. “I hope that winning this award shows other female professionals that there is room for them and that we have promise for the future as women in sports science.” 

As the name suggests, an emerging sports science professional is someone who is currently making their mark in the field. Betancourt is just beginning her career, and she’s poised to make a huge impact on the athletes she serves. The highlight of her time in the Sports Science (MS) program so far has been assisting the Pitt Women’s Lacrosse team during their inaugural season. “Not only was it an incredible opportunity to be a part of women’s sports history at the University of Pittsburgh, but also to be an integral part of their process to completing a successful first season,” says Betancourt. “I hope that the work that I have done for the program sets up a good starting point to have further actionable discoveries and applications as the program grows.” Betancourt’s academic and professional achievements demonstrate that she is well on her way to becoming an established sports science professional who will make significant contributions to the profession, sport and our community. 

The future of sports science is about human performance, and it’s exciting to see so many students like Betancourt very early in their careers making such an impact. This speaks to her drive and passion for the field of sports science, as well as her commitment to one day making a difference in the lives of athletes. If you want to find success in the sports science field, Betancourt advises that it’s important to “be patient with yourself and keep everything simple. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, then it probably doesn’t need to be done. The ability to have discussions with the coaching staff you are with, making it relatable and understandable, should be the skill that you focus on. If you can’t take the data and make it understandable for anyone and everyone, then you might be missing the mark!”