Exercising His Passion

April 13, 2024
Michael Ertel

Buffalo, NY - Michael Ertel ’14, MSEd ‘20 grew up playing soccer in Western New York, eventually becoming a soccer coach on the high school and college level during his undergraduate studies at Canisius University. As a student, he wanted to pursue career paths in both coaching and teaching physical education. He says he really began to grow more into the physical education side while at Canisius.

“I knew coaching was something I wanted to continue upon earning a teaching degree, whether at a school or local soccer club,” Ertel says. “At Canisius, I really began to understand the importance of physical education and now here I am pursuing a PhD in physical education pedagogy.”

Ertel is currently working toward his PhD at the University of South Carolina (USC) where he is also a graduate teaching assistant. His work at USC has earned national research awards including the Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America. He also received the Thomas L. McKenzie Research Award, named for a world-renowned scholar in physical education and physical activity research. The awards are humbling and flattering, says Ertel, who credits his Canisius experience and professors with helping him to reach this level.

“My undergraduate studies prepared me to succeed as a health and physical education teacher, and I benefitted from faculty members such as Drs. Clancy M. Seymour and Gregory Reeds who were so interested in my success,” Ertel recalls. “As I studied for my master’s in physical education at Canisius, I took on a different perspective, becoming more interested and enamored with reading research studies and consulting with my professors on different topics.”

Ertel had been teaching physical education at a local Catholic school and in the Buffalo Public Schools.  In order to continue, a master’s degree was required. He says it was a “no-brainer” that he would attend Canisius for his master’s, as he knew the faculty and was familiar with the school. One professor, in particular, Clancy Seymour, EdD, saw Ertel’s growing interest and asked if he had ever thought about pursuing a PhD. From there, Ertel was off and running.

As a doctoral student, Ertel teaches courses in physical education teaching methods as well as content courses in which undergraduate students learn about the specific content they will ultimately teach. His research proposals for the awards he received cross a couple disciplines both in the realm of physical activity promotion, motor learning and physical education pedagogy. He will study how a particular teaching approach influences the behaviors of children in physical education. Ertel will publish the results of his research in a journal in the field of physical education, and he is aiming to complete his PhD by spring 2025.

“I now know my end goal – my passion – is to teach in higher education and conduct research,” Ertel concludes. “My undergraduate and graduate work at Canisius definitely prepared me to step into this role.”