Next up in our 2018 PSP Draft Pick series is Dr. Erin Ayala. Read below to learn more about our newest sport psychologist!

Let’s start with a fun fact about yourself.

I tend to faint at the sight of blood due to a really sensitive vasovagal response!

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.

You are being sent to a deserted island you can bring one person and one item, who and what would you bring, and why?

Probably Pema Chodron–she’s a well respected teacher in mindfulness and meditation, and there’s no better time to learn than while stranded on an island.  I’m not sure what I’d bring with me!  Is an endless supply of coffee an option?

If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?

The ability to say “no” to the endless amount of Laffy Taffy in the lobby.

Favorite sport to play? Favorite sport to watch? 

Cycling.  Cyclocross is my favorite!  It’s fun, muddy, technical, and always pushes me to my limit.  Watching the elite racers really motivates me to stick with it, especially when it comes to bike handling abilities and tactics.

When you were in Kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I wanted to be a firefighter.

What is one thing that scares you?

As much as I love racing my bike, criterium races still terrify me.  Taking corners at 20+ mph while surrounded by other cyclists always creates potential for crashing and injuries. I try to practice what I preach by working through fears and challenging myself to learn something new during each practice and race.  This helps takes the edge off (but it’s still terrifying!).

What has drawn you to the sport psychology world?

It is the perfect way to bridge my personal and professional interests in athletics and psychology, and to do so with people who are highly motivated and hard working.  It also allows me to stay engaged in multiple facets of the profession, including teaching, research, and practice.  Finally, I love that sport psychology is truly interdisciplinary.  Having working in medical centers and other interdisciplinary environments, I’ve realized how much learning and collaboration takes place among health providers coming from different backgrounds.  There are always new opportunities for collaboration, which leads to better client outcomes and more competence in our field.

What is your educational and sport background?

I have a B.A. from St. Kate’s in Psychology and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from University at Albany. My internship and post-doctoral fellowship focused on health psychology in medical centers.  As for my sport background, I’ve done about 10 marathons and several triathlons (including 7 half-Ironman distances and a full Ironman triathlon).  I now race for a women’s cycling team in Minneapolis. This summer, I’ll be doing Dirty Kanza, which is a 200 mile gravel bike race in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

What do you love most about your job at Premier?

I love the athletes that I work with on a day-to-day basis!  They continue to inspire me in many ways, and they motivate me to be a better person, psychologist, and athlete.  The providers and staff members at Premier are also incredible, and truly practice the importance of teamwork in a high energy environment.