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The Daily News of Los Angeles
Dr. Ken Ravizza, a sports psychologist whose work touched generations in Southern California and beyond, died Sunday. He was 70.
Ravizza taught in the kinesiology department on the campus of Cal State Fullerton over parts of five decades. His professional clients included the Angels, with whom he began working in 1985. He had been a consultant to the Chicago Cubs since 2015.
A resident of Redondo Beach, Ravizza met with players from the Dodgers and Cubs in person during a series at Dodger Stadium in June. On July 2, Ravizza was hospitalized after suffering an apparent heart attack.
Ravizza was a pioneer in the field of applied sports psychology consulting. The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology cites him as having started consulting in 1973. His clients included amateur and professional athletes in a variety of sports. Since 2010, Ravizza was also the sports psychologist for the UCLA baseball team.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner and pitcher Dylan Floro both took Ravizza's sports psychology classes while they were student-athletes at Fullerton.
"When you think things are so terrible for you, he was able to give you a perspective to make you feel like what you're going through is not really anything bad at all," Turner said. "It could be way worse. It was an iconic voice. If he was in another room and you heard him talking, you knew exactly who it was. 'Yo - JT! Ya workin' it?' Nothing like it. An incredible guy."
Ravizza earned a Ph.D. from USC in 1973 and began teaching on the Fullerton campus in 1977. His courses included stress management, applied sports psychology and the philosophical and historic perspective of human movement. He also served as an adviser to undergraduate and graduate students of applied sports psychology.
"He was one of Fullerton's secret weapons," former CSF gymnastics coach Lynn Rogers told the Southern California News Group in 2014.
In 2004, a Fullerton baseball team featuring Turner and seven other future major leaguers won the College World Series. After a slow start to their season, Turner said the Titans began keeping a miniature toilet in their dugout to "flush away" bad at-bats.
"He had a lot to do with our championship," Turner said. "We started off 15-16 that year and had many, many Ken Ravizza sessions. ... He put the little portable toilet in our dugout, talked about flushing away the bad at-bats, flushing away the bad results and moving on, getting to the next pitch. A lot of things I still talk about on a daily basis here are directly from him."
A scholarship for kinesiology students at Fullerton, the Ken Ravizza Scholarship in Performance Enhancement and Sport Psychology, was established in 2015.
Ravizza and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon worked together for 30 years, according to the team's official website. Maddon was responsible for bringing Ravizza to the Cubs' staff after both worked for the Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016.
"I think he's one of the best in the business," Maddon told SCNG in 2017.
"His impact on so many is immeasurable and his legacy will be a lasting one," Angels VP of Communications Tim Mead wrote on Twitter. "Ken used not only his professional skills, but his genuine compassion, honesty, and caring for each individual he connected with."
Ravizza and Dr. Tom Hanson co-authored the book Heads-Up Baseball 2.0 in 2017, which outlined many of Ravizza's techniques for athletes of all ages and ability levels.
"What I took away from him I still do it to this day," Floro said. "If you watch me with my glove, I use his breathing technique. I get set, take my deep breath and focus every now and then when I need to I find my focal point. Those are things I took from him."
"Ken Man was a true pioneer in the mental skills field for baseball and someone who I continually credit for helping me get where I am today," Giants third baseman Evan Longoria wrote in a social media post. "I'm eternally grateful for the things I learned from him. The baseball world lost a good one."
Staff Writer Bill Plunkett contributed to this report.
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