Dr. Tasker, Sport Psychologist
Tamara Tasker is the Sport Psychologist for Pacific University, which is saying something, as no other school in the Northwest Conference has a Sport Psychologist working with student athletes.
And, at a university where a majority of the students on campus are also athletes, she works day-in, day-out, trying to help students find that balance with athlete, as well as mind with body, as a packed schedule with physically demanding lifts and practices is not only demanding on the body but the mind as well.
“I utilize mindfulness techniques with a lot of my athletes because the skills of awareness, being present, and being non-judgmental of our thoughts and feelings can heighten a student athlete’s ability to perform at their best,” explains Tasker. “The importance of paying attention to the present moment is a key skill for student athletes, as they are experiencing little successes and mistakes throughout their performance. Focusing on past successes or mistakes, or hopes for future success, pulls their attention from the present moment when they are performing.”
Tasker’s own journey was not straight forward. “I initially went to college planning to go into Sports Medicine,” she says, “and was headed to medical school. In the fall of my sophomore year, I injured my shoulder, and spent a lot of time in the athletic training room. I was already working as a student athletic trainer, and found that what I really enjoyed about working with athletes was the more day-to-day interactions. After my injury, I experienced a variety of emotions—sadness, anger, isolation, frustration—and recognized what an important role the psychological side of athletic injury plays. I didn’t know at that time that Sport Psychology was “a thing,” so I focused the rest of my education on becoming an athletic trainer.”
Tasker was an athlete herself growing up competing in gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and eventually found her spot in track and field. She competed as a thrower through high school and continued her athletic career at the D-I level at Colgate University and was a part of the Hammer throw and discus events. The passion for her sport never wavered as in 2017 she picked up discus again and began competing in Masters track and field, and found the love for hammer throw once again. She earned the honors of national champion in her age group in 2018 and this past July earned the bronze medal in the hammer throw at Nationals.
Not only does she love competition for herself, but loves seeing many other athletes compete. “I get a lot of enjoyment watching different types of athletes compete, using their training and talent to accomplish something so few are able,” Tasker continued, “I am humbled on a daily basis by the accomplishments of our student athletes, and the struggles many of them endure – all while completing a college degree and competing at an elite level. I feel honored to have the opportunity to work so closely with so many of them, whether as individuals, coaching staff, or teams.” — Zander Breault