Connor Keenan, from Mountaintop, PA, is a 2020 graduate of the B.S. in Exercise Science program and is currently pursuing his master’s in health and human services at Youngstown State University while serving as the Director of Sports Performance for the Women’s Basketball team. In the Q&A, he discusses why he pursued a degree in exercise science and his internship experiences at Robert Morris University and Pitt Olympics. His quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about your background before coming to Pitt?
Keenan: I grew up playing every sport under the sun. In high school, I was a four-sport athlete playing soccer, football, wrestling, and lacrosse. I always wanted to stay involved in athletics whether it be in a supporting role or as an athlete.
What got you interested in studying strength and conditioning?
Keenan: I was originally enrolled as an accounting major. I came into undergrad with some college credits from high school, which gave me the opportunity to be more flexible when scheduling classes freshman year. I was always fascinated with the process of changing, manipulating, and enhancing the human body so during my second semester I enrolled in an Anatomy 1 course. After much success in the class, I immediately knew this is the path I wanted to pursue.
Connor demonstrating strength and conditioning activities.
What was your experience like in the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science program?
Keenan: My experience included a variety of learning and research opportunities because the University of Pittsburgh has so many resources. I particularly enjoyed resources like the Movement and Balance Lab, which allowed me to see everything I was learning through a performance lens.
How has Pitt’s program prepared you for your future career goals?
Keenan: Pitt gave me the confidence and the educational foundation to succeed. Pitt also helped me realize I will never stop learning, especially in this profession. There is always something to learn about or new research being discovered. At some point I believe I will go back to school again to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and because of Pitt I have no doubt in my mind I can succeed.
Tell us about your experience interning at Robert Morris University?
Keenan: When I began at Robert Morris as the strength and conditioning intern, they were undergoing some coaching changes and expected a lot from the interns. I was expected to coach from day one. I enjoyed it because I didn’t get caught up in the minor details and was able to focus my coaching on the athletes and getting results.
You also interned with the Pitt Olympic Strength & Conditioning Department. What was that like?
Keenan: As the Strength and Conditioning intern with Pitt Olympics, I worked with every Olympic sport Pitt has to offer. I gained more responsibility from the full-time coaches who took an active role in my professional development. I was able to refine my coaching abilities and gain a new outlook on sports performance.
What’s a good fun fact about yourself that a lot of people don’t know?
Keenan: I am a practicing stoic.