Concordia Nebraska's Nolan Harms completes research fellowship at Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab

Published by Amy Crawford 1 year ago on Fri, Feb 17, 2023 10:29 AM

Concordia University, Nebraska Health and Human Performance Department Chair and Associate Professor Nolan Harms recently had the opportunity to complete a research fellowship at the Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab (NAPL) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His role as a Fellow developed into a role as an Assistant Applied Sport Scientist for Husker Athletics. He served at the Lincoln campus from June to December 2022. 

“My interest in sport science led me to contact NAPL, and the director was gracious in offering me an opportunity that I couldn't pass up,” explained Harms. “Concordia Nebraska administration was in full support and granted me leave for the fall semester. NAPL is a world-class facility. In addition to serving Husker Athletics, NAPL often collaborates with professional sports organizations, including the MLB and NFL.” 

While his role began as an intern-type position, Harms said his responsibilities progressed over time. He had the opportunity to collaborate with many Husker Athletics teams including men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, softball, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field and wrestling. 

Harms said the experience allowed him to network with individuals working in the NFL, MLB, NBA, USA speed skating, ALTIS, and NCAA Division I sport performance. 

“In the final months of the fellowship, I was responsible for conducting all countermovement jump testing for women’s gymnastics and wrestling,” he said. “I have a renewed appreciation for the student-athletes in all sports, but these two in particular. It was rewarding to play a small role in their preparation for competition. I will always remember that experience, and the relationships that were developed with the staff and student-athletes of those respective teams. 

In general, the scope of work performed by the NAPL staff includes profiling and benchmarking, load-response monitoring, fatigue-response monitoring and return-to play assessment. This work at the NAPL is accomplished in a variety of ways, including but not limited to sprint profiling, force plate monitoring, external load monitoring and planning, grip strength assessment, hamstring assessment, agility assessment, motion capture (for biomechanical analysis of sport specific movements), functional movement screening and VO2 max testing to measure the maximum amount of oxygen that an athlete can use during maximal exercise. 

“Working at NAPL presented an in-depth learning experience that I am most grateful for, said Harms. “To ‘see’ sport science in the applied setting helped me to learn what's possible, not just at the NCAA Division I level, but also at the NAIA level. Concordia University, Nebraska is blessed with excellent facilities and equipment that could allow [us] to do similar work in health and performance science. I am excited to explore such opportunities at Concordia and to incorporate new ideas and projects into the classroom setting.”  

Nolan’s wife Amy is a Concordia Nebraska alumni, and they have two daughters Nevaeh (8) and Johanna (5). 

“As a family we enjoy being outdoors, playing sports, hanging out with extended family, and following the Bulldogs, Huskers, and Creighton Bluejays, he said. “I enjoy following innovations in sport science, mentoring students, and exploring avenues to continually enhance the classroom experience.” 

He said that as his daughters have become active members of local sports teams, he’s also enjoyed serving in a coaching role. Whether he’s on the sidelines at his daughter’s games, or working in world-class facilities, Harms said there’s always an opportunity to learn. 

“Many, many professionals in sport science are gracious in giving their time and input to help the field continue to evolve,” he said. “[During my time at NAPL] I was able to have one-on-one conversations with professionals from all over the world. This was made possible by the network of individuals known to the staff at NAPL. I look forward to paying it forward as I share insight from those who were willing to chat with me during my time at Nebraska.” 

To learn more about NAPL, please visit: