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Focusing in Detail

Peak performances are possible, and they happen every day. You are capable of experiencing them more often than you think. Think in terms of detail – the more you try to see, the more absorbed you become. It is the secret of performing “in the zone.”

Human beings can do incredible things – make headline-worthy plays, solve the most complex mathematic equations, come up with the most leading-edge business innovations – the list goes on. But, for some reason, we have a hard time tapping into our full potential outside of extraordinary circumstances. And yet, it’s possible.

One of the keys to reproducing your peak performance is in seeing detail. The more task-related detail that you focus on during any performance, the more absorbed you will become in the moment. Albert Einstein probably wasn’t multitasking when he proposed the general theory of relatively. More realistically, he was undoubtedly so invested and focused in his work that it was his total consumption in it that lead to his discovery. That is what makes peak performances possible.

As outlined in this TIME magazine piece, Stanford researcher, Clifford Nass, challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information and using working memory. The expectation was that frequent multitaskers would outperform non-multitaskers on at least some of these activities. But, the opposite was true and even worse: only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling that even when focusing on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.

Multitasking is not a strength; being in the “zone” requires your full attention, not segments of it here or there. In a sense there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Someone who is a good “multi-tasker” is someone who is really exceptional at quickly shifting their focus to a different task but still seeing each one in great detail. The degree to which you improve your ability to focus on the details of the task at hand is the degree to which you will ultimately improve the quality of your performances.

One hundred percent. That’s it. You can’t give 110 percent. There is no secret slice under the pie. Using 100 percent of your attention to focus on the task at hand, only on the things that are involved with what you are currently doing, guarantees that you will perform at your best in each present moment for the rest of your life. The good news is that there is more – much more – for you to learn that will dramatically improve all that you do.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Striving for Excellence and Virtue On and Off Campus

The following is an excerpt of Dr. Thierfelder’s interview with the National Catholic Register. The article, “Raising the Bar in Every Area of Life,” shares insights on pursing virtue, the state of Catholic higher education and lessons learned from Dr. Thierfelder’s new book, “Less Than A Minute To Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life.”

The full article may be found here.

Striving for Excellence and Virtue On and Off Campus

As a two-time NCAA Division I All-American and National Champion high jumper, Bill Thierfelder had long been accustomed to raising the bar in a literal sense.

Now, he does so in a metaphorical way by promoting excellence and virtue in every aspect of life. In fact, each light post at Belmont Abbey College is adorned with a banner reading “Excellence & Virtue,” serving as a reminder of what every member of the Belmont Abbey community is called to embody.

Thierfelder has frequently spoken about his insights into a virtuous life in classrooms, boardrooms, meeting halls and training facilities across the country.

Now, for the first time, he is imparting this knowledge through a book, from TAN/St. Benedict Press, called Less Than a Minute to Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life. He recently spoke with the Register about his new book, pursuing virtue and the state of Catholic higher education.

Why did you write your new book, Less Than a Minute to Go?

That’s a great question, since I really had no time to write it, and I have never considered myself a writer. Being president of a college is almost a 24/7 job, and my wife, Mary, and I have 10 children, so spare chunks of time are few and far between. (We are still praying for the gift of bilocation!) Add to that the fact that I’d never written a book before, and you’re talking to one of the least likely candidates for the job.

I never thought I’d write a book, but friends would encourage me to get one out. They wanted me to share, in a written format, some of the insights I’d gained over the years. I can’t claim any credit for those insights; that credit goes to the Holy Spirit. However, I did see the validity of my friends’ point. A book would be a great way to reach beyond the immediate Belmont Abbey community to share great things with others.

I knew if I wrote a book that I would donate all of the royalties to Belmont Abbey College. The final validation for writing the book came when St. Benedict Press asked me to write it and then offered to donate all of their profits from the book to the college. Unlike larger schools, we have a very small endowment with which to support our operations, so the opportunity to bring in funds for the school was an important consideration. Not only would I be able to share helpful insights and techniques with others in a new way, but I would at the same time be able to help support the college.

It was a sometimes arduous path, as I often stayed up until 3am writing. Then, on what was supposed to be our family vacation, I wrote all day and night. Without the encouragement and editorial advice of my entire family, including my 6-year-old, Matthew, it would not have been possible. In fact, by making it a family affair, it brought us even closer together.

The book isn’t only for athletes, is it?

The book is filled with examples of how athletes from various sports perform at the highest levels, but it shows how anyone, at any level, can significantly improve their performance. On the deepest level, it is also a book about how to be truly happy in this life and the next. The book shows how world-class performance and virtue are not mutually exclusive and why we will be most successful and happy when pursuing both.

Sport is a wonderful metaphor for illustrating how virtues are developed and strengthened over time. It provides an environment that can reveal insights about how our bodies, minds and souls work. While the book may be a great aid to anyone looking to improve athletic performance, it also offers tips and advice for improving other areas of life.

The first section of the book, [about] preparing the mind to win, helps us to see ourselves and others more clearly and avoid the ways of thinking that can hurt our performances. The second section, [focusing on] making peak performance a common occurrence, shows how and why peak performances happen. The third and final section, [on] playing with a passion that never ends, shows how sacrifice is essential to our success and happiness in this life and the next.

A recurring theme of the book is that, ultimately, what we do is far more important than what we say. We hope people’s words will match their actions; but in the end, the way you really know them is by what they did, not by what they said. Having given us life and free will, God is essentially asking us, “Do you love me?” Our response to that question comes forth very clearly by the way we choose to live our lives.     

Thursday, November 21, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Abbey Players present "Freud's Last Session"

cs lewis_freudThe Abbey Players present Freud’s Last Session directed by Simon Donoghue. Freud’s Last Session centers on legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud who invites the young, rising Oxford Don C.S. Lewis to his home in London. On the day England enters World War Two, Freud and Lewis clash about love, sex, the existence of God, and the meaning of life, just weeks before Freud took his own life. Freud’s Last Session is a deeply touching play filled with humor and exploring the minds, hearts and souls of two brilliant men addressing the greatest questions of all time. Written by Mark St. Germain.

It will run at the Haid Theatre of Belmont Abbey College November 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23.

Purchase tickets here: Nov 14 | Nov 15 | Nov 16 | Nov 21 | Nov 22 | Nov 23


Acclaim for  Freud’s Last Session

“Delightful! A brainy fencing match of Olympic caliber.” —Bloomberg News

“It’s a sharp, lively discourse, and audience members searching for engaging debate will be pleased…Mark St. Germain’s script is astute, and the humor is plentiful.” —NY Times

“A gem…great theatre…intellectually thrilling with both humor and insight in abundance…the kind of nuance that breathes life into history.” —NY 1

“…lively, plausible and provocative…dynamic, often comical.” —The Associated Press

“Riveting theatre! In Freud’s Last Session, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis engage in a battle of wits that is exciting and thought-provoking…their extraordinary debate comes alive [in] Mark St. Germain’s crisp, carefully calibrated script. Freud’s Last Session is a theatrical and intellectual delight.” —Huffington Post

“…a juicy intellectual debate between two great minds…food for thought.” —NY Post

“The play takes on an irresistible intensity.” —

“Bracing theater! Intractably analytical and amusingly conversational…wittily and compassionately dramatized clash of personalities and ideologies.” —CurtainUp

Monday, November 11, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

2013 Fall Sports Preview

This fall, the Belmont Abbey College Crusaders are looking to add to the ever growing collection of Conference Carolinas championship banners hanging in the Wheeler Center. Last fall, both Women’s Soccer and Women’s Volleyball won their respective conference championships in stunning fashion (and Men’s Basketball won in the spring), and this season they are looking to repeat that success. Men’s Soccer also hopes to join the ladies when they take to the field and make a run at turning losses into wins.

2012 Women's Soccer championship

Women’s Soccer

There is no reason why the Women’s Soccer team should not be able to make it to the conference championship rounds this season. Last year, the Lady Crusaders made their sixth NCAA tournament appearance, their third in the last four years. This season’s squad returns eight starters that were part of last year’s championship team and includes fourteen new freshmen. The team’s fitness training and successful preseason could foreshadow a winning season.

Things are going “better than last year,” Coach Lynch said. “The team came into camp at a good fitness level; a testament to their desire to achieve our goals again this year. These goals include graduating leaders of virtue and excellence, dominating and winning the Conference Carolinas, and advancing at the NCAA Tournament.”

When Coach Lynch was asked what the team’s weakness was this season, he responded, “Our defending back line as we graduated three of the four in the back (Alana Ryzcek, Kristin Foster, Kiera Woerner, all four year starters). Their shoes are big ones to fill. However, I am confident we will find a few players ready and able to step in.”

In September, the ladies faced another very tough non-conference schedule against top-ranked teams in the region including Tusculum, Newberry, Lees-McRae and Pfeiffer. These teams “certainly show us where we need to keep working,” said Coach Lynch.

Men’s Soccer

According to Coach Keating, the Men’s Soccer team has no weaknesses, but rather, “only under-developed strengths. Our biggest goal is to infuse the program with a culture built around our 15 core values. Everything must flow from that.” Abbey sports teams have many great values, making cheering for them that much more rewarding. Some of the values that our Men’s Soccer team focuses upon include selflessness, classiness, respect, humility, resilience and perspective.

Women’s Volleyball

The Women’s Volleyball team is also looking for a repeat Conference Carolinas championship with several strong players returning and a full list of solid, fresh players joining the team as well. Head Coach DeJute said that this intensive number of new pla2012 Women's Volleyball championshipyers, thirteen freshmen in all, will be a weakness on which the team will need to work.

Victoria Jensen, a senior Elementary Education major, was part of the conference championship team last season. “This year,” she said, “we are building chemistry on and off the court with our new freshman. They are an awesome group of girls and have so much energy and passion for volleyball.” When asked what challenges the team faced at the start of the season, Jensen responded, “[They] include getting back into the habit of morning practices (which preseason prepared us for) and needing to bond quickly with all of our new teammates, which has been going really well!”

Women’s Cross Country

The Women’s Cross Country team will be looking to improve on last year’s fifth place finish at the Conference Carolinas meet, as well as working to be a top twelve team at regionals. Last fall, the team placed seventeenth in the regional meet, which included ten schools in the conference and thirty-four in the region.

The team is led by sophomore Lucy Schmitz and senior Ally Craven. Both girls are returning All-Conference runners, and Craven was All-Regional last Fall. Schmitz and Craven, along with sophomores Brianna Mosby and Kaitlin Howard and freshmen Elena Fea and Marilyn Guevara, are projected to be the top five runners for the ladies this fall, according to Coach De Witt.

Schmitz developed into the second-best freshman distance runner in Division II last spring with her school record performance in the 10,000m run. She was also the only Division II freshman 5,000m runner to qualify for the USA National Under-20 Championships held in Des Moines, IA over the summer.

Men’s Cross Country

Like the ladies, the men are also looking to improve their previous success by advancing up the ranks in the conference and in the region. They hope to be in the top five for the region. To achieve this goal they will be working closely with the top two programs in the conference and region, King’s and Mt. Olive. Last fall, the Men’s Cross Country team was third out of nine in the conference and eighth out of thirty-three in the region. Last season was the first time the team ranked and placed in the top ten of the region since joining Division II.

All-Conference performers senior Tim Gill (also a returning All-Regional runner) and sophomore Ryan Caulley hope to lead the team to a successful season. Gill and Caulley, along with seniors Dustin Stewart, Frank Spicer and Mike Rogers and sophomore Dave Iverson, are forecasted to be the top six runners this fall.

“In cross country, the goal is to run your best individual races,” said Coach De Witt, “which contributes to the team performance at the most important meets. I consider all of the other meets as practice for the regional meet at the least and the national meet as the goal. We do not gear our training to be at our best for the [conference] meet; it is just the final meet in the progress to be ready for regionals.”


For more information, including live stats, please visit the Abbey Athletics’ website at

Sunday, November 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Belmont Rail Trail Coming Soon

For those students who have yet to find that one perfect running route or those who avoid the spider web overhangs and debris lining the railroad tracks when walking to downtown Belmont, help is on the way! This summer, Governor Pat McCrory signed official approval for the “Belmont Rail Trail,” yet another step for the long-awaited running and biking trail that will make its start at Belmont Abbey College.


Photo courtesy of Anthony Wyatt

For those students who have yet to find that one perfect running route or those who avoid the spider web overhangs and debris lining the railroad tracks when walking to downtown Belmont, help is on the way! This summer, Governor Pat McCrory signed official approval for the “Belmont Rail Trail,” yet another step for the long-awaited running and biking trail that will make its start at Belmont Abbey College.

The trail, a ten-foot-wide greenway that will run alongside the unused railroad track that spans from North Belmont to Belmont Abbey College, will allow students a safe and scenic route to their favorite downtown shops and restaurants, another way to get to classes at the Sacred Heart campus, or simply a fresh route for early morning runs. It is still currently unknown when the trail will be completed, but significant progress is currently being made. The trail will likely be completed within two years.

The “Rail Trail” project has been in the planning stages since 2011, but has recently experienced delays. According to Adrian Miller, the Belmont Assistant City Manager for Community Services, “[The trail] has been pushed back a bit due to an unexpected need to ask for special state legislation for the project by the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA). The NCGA approved a bill to allow us to build the greenway in the NCDOT railroad easement as long as we received approval form the owners of the property on which the railroad easement exists.” With special assistance from Gaston representatives Senator Kathy Harrington and Representative John Torbett, the bill was approved unanimously in the NCGA before receiving final approval from Governor McCrory in June. The project now lies within the hands of Belmont residents. Local property owners who would be affected by the trail will be consulted by the city council at a public meeting (the date of which has yet to be determined, but will likely be within the year).

The Belmont Rail Trail will become a new piece of the “Carolina Thread Trail,” a landmark project devoted to establishing and protecting North Carolina’s natural areas in the hopes of explorative, scientific, cultural and historical progress. As such, special funding from the Thread Trail will be gifted to the Rail Trail to help cover the costs associated with planning and land development. With funding, state approval and likely support from Belmont residents, the Belmont Rail Trail finally shows signs of coming to fruition despite years of setbacks.

By: Kevin Miller for The Crusader Online, Student newspaper of Belmont Abbey College

September 20, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||


Tuesday, September 10, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized||

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Thursday, November 29, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized||

Home of Happy Students

As you walk around campus the one thing that strikes you is the number of truly happy students we have here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized||

Motorsports Graduate Caitlin Wins an Internship

Caitlin ShawNASCAR  and Motorsports article copy will go below.

Statesville native and Indiana University doctoral candidate Patrick Pope, organist, performs baroque to modern day music including works by Rheinberger, Persichetti, Telemann, Bruhns, and Bach. He is assisted by Laurel Talley, violin and Mark Dulin, trumpet.

Please join us in the Abbey Basilica on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. for an evening of great music that will lift your spirits and nourish your soul.

And remember:  All Arts at the Abbey events are free. Donations are gladly accepted.

More information:

Patrick Pope is the Organist and Director of Music at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter in Charlotte, NC. He is a candidate for the Doctor of Music degree in Organ Performance and Literature at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, from which he also earned his Master’s degree. Mr. Pope was Assistant Organist and Choirmaster at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte from 2006-2008. He also worked with the Choir School at St. Peter’s. Concert engagements have taken him to Princeton University Chapel; the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, GA; the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Charleston, SC; and Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Laurel Talley is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance and music education, and a Master of Music teaching. Currently in Charlotte, Laurel is the Suzuki coordinator and lead violin instructor for Community School of the Arts, elementary music teacher for The Fletcher School, and a teaching artist for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

Mark Dulin is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music, the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, and SUNY-Stony Brook. He is currently an adjunct professor of trumpet at Winthrop University. Dulin is a Vincent Bach Performing Artist.

Thursday, October 11, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Stephen Miss Named Director of Athletics

miss2-300x200The Crusaders men’s basketball coach, Stephen Miss, has accepted the position of Director of Athletics. He will continue coaching the men’s basketball, a position he started in 2007.

In addition to his coaching experience, Miss brings with him advanced degrees in the humanities, which will help ensure that student-athletes are outstanding performers both inside and outside of the classroom.

“As the new Athletic Director, Stephen Miss will do an exceptional job of building on all the good work of those who have come before him,” Belmont Abbey College President Dr. William Thierfelder said. “His model of excellence and virtue has been an integral part of the education, formation, and preparation of our student-athletes.”

Miss makes his foray into athletics administration as he enters his sixth year as the Crusaders men’s basketball coach. As Head Basketball Coach, he has guided the Abbey to an 80-61 mark, including a 20-win season during the 2008-09 campaign, the program’s first 20-win season since 2002-03.

Under Miss’s guidance, guard Richard Barbee (2008-11) ended his career as the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer, netting 2,018 points, the first Crusader to eclipse the 2,000 point mark in 22 years. During Miss’s tenure, five players have scored over 1,000 points, three have signed professional contracts and two were invited to NBA pre-draft workouts with the Charlotte Hornets.

He has coached 11 academic all-conference and ten were named all-conference in his five years, with a 100 percent graduation rate among his players.

“I am humbled beyond words to be named Athletic Director at Belmont Abbey College,” Miss said. “I am grateful to Dr. Thierfelder, Abbot Placid, and the entire Abbey community for this tremendous privilege and for their confidence.”

Miss will lead a department that has ascended to unprecedented growth in the College’s history, one that has added nine sports in the last eight years. He will also direct a program that saw five programs recognized by Conference Carolinas with the Messick Award for displaying the best sportsmanship. The Crusaders claimed the overall sportsmanship award from the conference in 2012.

“My charge,” Miss said, “is to continue to foster a culture of virtue through sport and to provide our student-athletes with the best experience possible while simultaneously assisting and mentoring them in becoming more complete individuals in mind, body, and spirit.”

Prior to joining the Abbey, he served one season as an assistant coach at Towson University during the 2003-04 season. From 1998 until 2003, he was an assistant at the University of Georgia, beginning as a graduate student assistant and eventually becoming administrative assistant for the Bulldogs.

He holds a Bachelors Degree from the University of North Carolina and two Masters Degrees, one in English from the University of Georgia and one in Irish Theatre from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He and his wife, Angela, who is the Chair of the English Department and Director of the Rhetoric and Writing Program at Belmont Abbey College, have two children, Abigail Grace and Stephen Patrick Mitchell.

Miss’ appointment to Director of Athletics follows the resignation of Quinn Monahan. Monahan resigned his post after two years to accept the same appointment at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort.

Under Monahan’s aegis, the Crusaders athletic department had one team win a Conference Carolinas Championship and three that reached the NCAA Tournament. The women’s soccer team captured the Conference Carolinas regular season title and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Southeast Regional in 2011, while the women’s golf team, which was ranked as high as third nationally, was crowned Conference Carolinas Champions with a 54-stroke victory later that spring. Both golf programs earned spots in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships for their efforts. In the spring of 2012, the men’s golf team ascended to as high as 19th in the national rankings and Adam Hedges was named a first team All-American.

Monahan also oversaw a massive facility overhaul that featured a weight room expansion, the creation of new office space at Sacred Heart Campus as well as in the Wheeler Center, a renovation of the playing floor at the Wheeler Center, acquiring full-time assistant coaches for all programs as well as the construction of new practice fields.

“I would like to express my gratitude as well to Quin Monahan for his service to our department the past two years,” said Miss.

Friday, September 21, 2012|Categories: Uncategorized||