Dan Faggella is a busy man. After completing URI’s kinesiology program in 2009, he returned to finish a second degree in psychology this past year. Today, he juggles running his own martial arts academy, a motivational speaking career, a graduate program in positive psychology, and a book project focusing on technical development in combat sports.
During his time at URI, Faggella was involved in running the campus wrestling team (a club sport) and Brazilian jiu jitsu club. As part of a minor in business, Faggella completed an independent study project with Professor Alex Hazera, preparing a 30-page business proposal for his own gym. Less than a year later, Faggella opened up the Omoplata Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Wakefield, R.I. Today, running classes there for varying ages and skill levels remains his primary focus (see mma-ri.com).
The following year, Faggella launched into another independent study project with sports psychologist John Sullivan, former head of counseling at URI. This time, his focus was on best practices for teaching goal setting effectively, particularly for athletes. “I came to the conclusion that if the world knew how to choke people better because I lived, it wasn’t enough,” he remembers. So with characteristic gusto, he launched himself into the motivational speaking arena.
Before long, he was speaking to hundreds of Rhode Island high school students about time and focus management. He was also recently featured as a speaker at a URI resident assistant training/student athlete networking event. “Right now, my presentations hone in on goal setting and skill acquisitions—how to get good at things,” he says.
Faggella is currently building on his independent study at URI in a graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is working toward a master’s in applied positive psychology. He is also working on a book that explores technical developments in sports through research and interviews with top athletes. Segments of the text appear on Faggella’s Web site scienceofskill.com.
—Bethany Vaccaro ’06