Last semester, the School of Health and Consumer Sciences welcomed a new instructor to the physical education teacher education program.
Roman Waldera comes to campus by way of Interstate 29 south, as he spent the past four years completing his Ph.D. at rival North Dakota State University. Originally from Minot, North Dakota, he earned his undergraduate degree in kinesiology and physical education from the University of North Dakota.
A student-athlete for the Fighting Hawks, Waldera was a letter-winner on the track and field teams, specializing in the throwing events. During his sophomore campaign, Waldera was crowned the Great West Conference champion in the discus with a throw of 160 feet, 9 inches.
Waldera’s senior year brought his biggest individual accomplishment on the field: Advancing to the NCAA West Preliminary Round after a 175-foot toss with the discus earlier in the season. He ended his career as one of the all-time best throwers from UND’s Division I era. His career-best mark of 176 feet, 10 inches in the discus is good for fifth on the UND all-time top 10 list. His hammer throw of 189 feet, 2 inches is good for the school’s third-best throw of all time.
After his competitive career was over, Waldera decided to stay in the world of track and field and took a job coaching the throwing events at his hometown university, Minot State. During this time, he also completed a master’s degree in sports management.
“I enjoyed coaching, but I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to do long term with all the travel,” Waldera said. “That’s when I started to become more involved in the world of academia.”
After three years at Minot, Waldera made a move to Fargo, where he began pursuing a doctorate in health, nutrition and exercise science. He stayed involved with track and field, however, working with NDSU throwers to learn more about their motions and muscle activations as part of his doctoral dissertation research topic. One of the members involved in Waldera’s project—Payton Otterdahl—was a finalist in the shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“It was great to stay involved with track and field while I became more embedded in academia,” Waldera added.
While in Fargo, Waldera also worked part time as a substitute physical education teacher for Fargo Public Schools and as a personal trainer for Courts Plus Community Fitness.
In terms of research activities, Waldera has also authored publications focused on physical education curriculum, ADHD and physical activity, lower-body muscle activation during squat movements, and coaching attitudes regarding COVID-19 as well as gamesmanship. Waldera’s published research has appeared in the Physical Educator journal, the Journal of Human Sciences and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
At SDSU, Waldera isn’t required to conduct any research as part of his academic responsibilities but is teaching four courses this fall. The first, Fundamentals of Coaching, has a mix of students from a variety of majors enrolled. The second, Professionalism, Ethics and Law, discusses the development of professional attributes and dispositions essential to becoming effective professionals. The third, Science of Movement, a class about motor learning and control. He also taught an intensive J-term course to begin the semester that focused on teaching lifetime activities in physical education.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed these first few months at SDSU,” Waldera said. “The students, faculty and programs I’m involved with are great. I particularly enjoy my current position because the classes I teach align with my education and