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JVS Scholarship Helps Father and Son Share Passion for Sports Psychology

Richard Oelberger had a specific goal in mind when he started his PhD degree in Behavioral Psychology. His son Michael had just been born and he wanted to finish his education as soon as possible to be able to have as much time as he could with his infant son.

As a JVS SoCal Scholarship recipient in 2004 and 2005, Richard achieved his goal, which has certainly paid off as Michael, a 2023 recipient, will follow his dad’s footsteps in the psychology field, even as he pursues a career as a professional soccer player.

“One of my dreams was that we could do things together,” remembers Richard, a former athlete who is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in Sports Psychology (CMPC). “I love it that we share this passion. It excites me that he works so hard.”

But Richard knew well the staggering costs of a college education, so he encouraged his son to investigate opportunities that could help finance his ambitions. He remembered about the JVS Scholarship that has helped hundreds of Jewish students like him and encouraged him to apply.

Michael found a program that could help him continue his professional soccer career while studying a full course load through the University of Missouri. He could take online courses to earn his degree in psychology while playing as defensive midfielder for a 3rd division regional League team in the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Michael also applied to and qualified for the JVS Scholarship.

“As a future sports psychologist, the insights gained from these diverse experiences within the sports world would be invaluable, surpassing what any classroom could offer,” said Michael in one of the letters he wrote to his scholarship sponsors.

Despite his youthful age, he has a clear vision of how he wants to help others though his career. His inspiration comes from his father’s work helping people overcome mental barriers.

“In sports, it’s 50 percent mental and 50 percent physical,” says Michael, “my dad has taught me that there are so many different ways to help.”

On July 2023, Michael attended the JVS Scholarship Awards Ceremony at Sinai Temple where he met many of the scholarship funders and fellow scholarship recipients. He said this experience helped him strengthen his Jewish faith.

“It was humbling to have these people that I didn’t even know support me and help me make my dreams come true.”

If you would like to support the JVS Scholarship program this Passover season, consider donating to JVS SoCal.