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braydon lazzara next to poster
braydon lazzara next to poster

Braydon Lazzara ’24

Exercise Science major

Being offered a chance to play on Mount’s soccer team gave me hope that my dream to be a collegiate athlete was not over. Although Mount Union has provided me the opportunity to be more than a student athlete, too with the different student organizations.


B.S., Exercise Science


Munroe Falls, Ohio

Other Interest

Founder's Academic Scholarship

Why Mount Union?

I heard about Mount Union when I was a junior in high school. Every summer the soccer team would host open fields, which would be open to any alumni or current player. Two players that would regularly attend were Mount Union students. They spoke very highly of the academic programs and the soccer team. My goal was to play collegiate soccer growing up, but I thought this dream may have been over when I tore my ACL for the second time in my senior year. Prior to this, I was being recruited by multiple schools but had not received an offer yet. However, the coach at Mount Union invited my family to campus after hearing this news and was the first coach to give me an offer.

For students looking at colleges/universities, I’d say that it is okay to change your mind and go with your gut instinct. Personally, deep in my heart I always knew Mount Union was my number one choice for college. At one point, though I was committed to another university due to an athletic scholarship. The best advice my mom gave me was the comparison of building a house to college. When you build a house, you need a strong foundation in order to grow and build upon it. This analogy can be compared to college because it is your foundation for your future. I believe the cost is worth every penny due.

A Second Home

Mount Union has always felt like home. Being offered a chance to play on Mount’s soccer team gave me hope that my dream to be a collegiate athlete was not over. Although Mount Union has provided me the opportunity to be more than a student athlete, too. We like to refer to the University as an “and” school because the faculty and staff here want to see students succeed while being involved in multiple organizations.Mount Union has put in place many resources to help you succeed and value your college experience whether it be through the center of student success, academic support, or through our first-year experiences program.Though, the tight knit community also makes Mount Union feel like a second home. From your first step on campus, you can see and feel the welcoming atmosphere. I have made lasting friendships and roommates that I call my brothers.

Why Exercise Science

I chose Exercise Science as my major because of the engaging faculty and hands-on experiences offered to students. As an undergraduate student you can work with high end equipment such as a metabolic cart, Pod Bod, and Vicon Motion Analysis Software. Additionally, you get to test peers, and train community members to help them reach their goals. Being a D3 school and having access to a small class size where professors know your name made it an easy choice for me.

The Exercise Science Department has had a great impact on my UMU experience, but if I had to pick an individual, I would have to say Dr. Barrett. Dr. Barrett is my research advisor and professor. Without his guidance and support I would not be where I am today; he has been there for me every step of the way. As a professor, he makes the curriculum easy to understand and engaging. As a research advisor he always makes time to answer my questions and help ease my stress. Mount Union is lucky to have Dr. Barrett and I am excited to continue to work with him.

Young Researcher

As a student at Mount, I  have had the opportunity to present my research findings at the following conferences: Midwest American College of Sports Medicine (2021), Ohio State’s Injury Biomechanics Symposium (2022) where I was the youngest and only Mount Union student to ever present at this conference, and Midwest American College of Sports Medicine Conference (2022) where I was awarded the Undergraduate Student Scholar Award and was on the University of Mount Union’s Quiz Bowl team.

Additionally, I hold an internship with T3 Performance and help to develop training plans and conduct performance testing on Mount Union athletes. I have also been hired to be the head sports scientist for Mount Union Men’s soccer program. Furthermore, last summer I was able to help Dr. Bansal on a 9-Week Mall walking study on Stroke patients.

If I had to choose a favorite experience, I would have to say Ohio State’s Injury Biomechanics Symposium. This opportunity showed me my love for research as it was the first study that I was the lead researcher in. At the conference I was able to connect with many different universities about graduate school and summer internships which I have applied to for this summer.

Honors Research

How Does the Secondary Task of Heading a Soccer Ball Impact Jumping Kinematics and Kinetics Between Men’s and Women’s DIII Soccer Players?

The purpose of my study was to add a sports-specific secondary task, in this case heading a soccer ball, and see how it would alter the landing kinetics and kinematics known to increase ACL injury risk and if it would be greater in females than males in common jump assessments.

All of the participants from both the men's and women's soccer teams at Mount Union would go to the Vicon motion capture lab located on campus for all testing. In this they would perform 4 counter movement jumps (CMJs) and 4 drop vertical jumps (DVJs). Two of each of these jumps would implement the secondary task of heading a soccer ball. With the Vicon software and force plates, we were able to analyze jumping asymmetries and differences in kinematic and kinetic results.

Taken together, our data suggest that adding a secondary task to jump assessments may increase the injury prediction values of these tests, but one gender is not more affected, although prospective cohort studies would need to be done to confirm this.