“Set your goals high and don’t stop til’ you get there” (Vincent “Bo” Jackson, American former baseball and football player and an All-Star in both baseball and football)
This quote sets the tone for what it is that Dr. Zapata enjoys about Sport Psychology and her work with collegiate athletes. She emphasizes the importance of motivation, encouragement, and energy in her work with athletes to optimize performance, whether that be in sport or in daily life. Anxiety is also an area of particular interest to her. She enjoys helping others learn to utilize anxiety to their advantage (rather than view it as a barrier) with the use of imagery, goal-setting, thought management and affirming self-talk, and physical relaxation and arousal regulation strategies.
Whether preparing for an individual or team event or dealing with anxiety and stress in daily life, Dr. Zapata’s “Motivate. Encourage. Energize.” mantra serves as a basis of her therapeutic style. This mantra requires that athletes and performers reflect on their past experiences in order to create a plan, visualize an outcome, and ultimately perform in the present moment with mindful awareness.
Experience, Education, and Training
Dr. Zapata was born in Panama City, Panama and credits her Afro-Caribbean roots as the foundation for her values and worldview. She grew up in Newport News, Virginia having learned the art of adapting and flexibility early as a military dependent. Throughout her lived experiences she has identified strengths related to resiliency, resourcefulness, and sheer will and motivation.
As a first-generation college student Dr. Zapata earned a BA from Marymount University, her first graduate degree from the George Washington University, and continued to earn a MA and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant International University in San Diego, CA.
She has provided mental health and sport performance services to Division I collegiate athletes, elite and professional athletes, and has curated training programs for teams, coaches, and affinity groups such as injured athletes, LGBTQIA+ and athletes of color.
Dr. Zapata currently serves as a co-coordinator of the Diversity in Sport SIG for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).
Presentations and Media
Dr. Zapata has facilitated workshops and other speaking engagements that focus on diversity in sport, racial inequality and implicit bias in the context of sport, and utilizing mindful self-compassion to achieve optimal performance.
License and Certifications
Dr. Zapata is currently awaiting licensure as a psychologist (LP) in Minnesota and is working toward both Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) certification and BCIA Biofeedback certification.
Dr. Zapata has been engaged in sport since childhood, having played basketball, soccer, and tennis respectively. Currently, Dr. Zapata continues to participate on recreational teams in a variety of sports. She spends most of her time as a co-founding member of a womxn’s cycling team in Minneapolis that focuses on diversity within cycling and competing in road and gravel races.