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Professor Bill Barfield
Physical Education and Health

Professor Bill Barfield


Physical Education Professor Raises the "Bar" on Biomechanical Research  
By Sarah Frady

Like most other kids, William Barfield didn't always know what he wanted to be when he grew up. There was a time in his life when he was more concerned with playing in the snow with his friends than teaching college kids the basics of biomechanics.

Now, more than 30 years into his teaching career, he can't imagine doing anything else.

"I can retire now if I want to, but I think I would be bored," Dr. Barfield says. "I'll probably die teaching a classroom of students."

In 1974, William "Bill" Barfield obtained a master's degree from Western Carolina University, the same college from which he

earned his bachelor's degree. For the next two years, he simultaneously worked two jobs in Asheville, N.C., teaching elementary school physical education, and coaching men's soccer at UNC-Asheville. He traveled from school to school in Buncombe County giving P.E. demonstration lessons to each grade level of students at each school. Though he enjoyed the job, teaching such young students proved to be a struggle at times.

"I did some pretty dumb things," Barfield said. "Once, I had a group of five- and six-year-olds do a shoe relay race. Each student took off their shoes and put them in a pile, and then I told them to run down, find and tie their shoes, and run back. What I didn't realize was that most kids didn't know how to tie their shoes at that age, so I ended up tying 60 pairs of shoes for the next hour."

Barfield soon began working solely with college students, accepting a job at Brevard College, and taking on the titles of men's soccer coach, tennis coach, director of student activities, and professor- all at once.

Although he enjoyed his time- and many jobs- at Brevard, Barfield left his home state in 1978 to become head soccer coach at The Citadel. He coached the team for 16 years, and in 1988- while still maintaining his coaching job- obtained his Ph.D. in biomechanics at Auburn University.

For two summers, Barfield took classes at Auburn, and in 1990, moved there to take classes during the school year. From January to August of that year, his assistant coach held practices during the week, and Barfield drove from Auburn to Charleston each weekend to coach the soccer games and recruit future players.

He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the biomechanics of kicking, a topic which generated his interests in orthopedics and musculoskeletal issues, as well.

After Barfield left The Citadel, the first female, Shannon Faulkner, was admitted into the military academy. Of four females who followed, two resigned because of stress fractures. Because of this coincidence (or was it?), Barfield set out to study the factors influencing stress fracture incidence among females in a military college environment versus those in a college environment.

After three years of research, Barfield found that there was no difference between the incidence of stress fractures among Citadel females and College of Charleston females- but he wasn't discouraged.

"Sometimes, you study something for a long time, just to find out that what you are trying to prove isn't there," Barfield said. "But I am intellectually curious, and if I don't know the answer to something, I want to research it. I am always interested in the outcomes."

In 1993, Barfield left The Citadel to teach at the College of Charleston. He doesn't coach here at C of C, but enjoys coaching his grandson's soccer team.

"I love coaching," Barfield says, "because you just can't develop the close relationship with the students you teach that you do with the kids you coach."

Barfield is an associate professor at the College and teaches upper-level physical education classes. He is also an adjunct professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, and many of the residents at the university assist in his research. In the past six years, Barfield has been nominated three times for the College of Charleston's Distinguished Faculty Research Award for his extensive research efforts.

His core courses include kinesiology, biomechanics, and motor learning.

Currently, Barfield is researching the relationship between foot and ankle injuries, and motor vehicle accidents, and also the use of powerplates as opposed to traditional strength training.

For more information on Dr. Barfield's research and accomplishments, visit http://www.cofc.edu/~barfield/barfield.html.