NEW YORK - Beginning the 2012-13 academic year, Columbia Athletics will launch a groundbreaking program, The Championship Performance Initiative, designed to help Columbia's varsity teams and more than 700 student-athletes win individual and team championships, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education announced today.

Created to maximize and unlock the potential of Columbia student-athletes, The Championship Performance Initiative integrates all components of athletics performance, beyond traditional coaching, sports medicine, strength training and conditioning. The Championship Performance Initiative utilizes best practices in sports psychology (with an emphasis on goal-setting, attention control and relaxation techniques) and nutrition education to encourage and deliver championship performances.

"Columbia Athletics is committed to excellence in all we do. The Championship Performance Initiative is an important step toward our goal of building a winning athletics program," Murphy said. "The Championship Performance Initiative will combine three core components of mental preparation, nutrition and leadership. This initiative will give our varsity teams and student-athletes the confidence, mental toughness, physical readiness and leadership skills that foster championship performances."

The new Associate Athletics Director for Championship Performance, a certified and registered sports psychologist, will direct The Championship Performance Initiative.  The mental preparation aspect will focus on sophisticated training techniques to help Columbia varsity teams and student-athletes master concepts such as attention control, goal setting, creative visualization and stress management to enhance athletic performance. The principal goal is to maximize student-athletes' performances by developing confidence, improving the ability to maintain calmness and control in stressful situations, and reinforcing focus and concentration.

The Championship Performance Initiative provides nutrition education to our student-athletes. The registered nutritionist who works with our varsity teams and student-athletes will provide information on how to ensure optimal consumption and retention of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) necessary for peak performance.

The leadership component of The Championship Performance Initiative includes one of Columbia's most successful student-athlete programs, The Leaders for Life Program, and the new First-Year Transition Program.

The Leaders for Life Program is Columbia's unique year-long leadership program for upperclass student-athletes. The Leaders for Life Program is designed to cultivate leaders in our athletics program by fostering and promoting qualities and competencies of strong leadership.

To ensure that all of our student-athletes make a successful leap to NCAA Division I athletics, all first-year and new transfer student-athletes will participate in the First-Year Transition Program. Comprising eight learning sessions over the course of the academic year, The First-Year Transition Program will focus on academic, social and team-related concepts. 

"Columbia Athletics is serious about winning," Murphy said.  "Our Championship Performance Initiative will provide our student-athletes and teams with the tools necessary to be the very best."