life of an athlete, the illinois human performance project, athletic wellness

About the Human Performance Project

Human Performance Project

What is HPP ?

The Human Performance Project is a nationally recognized program founded by 30 year human performance researcher and Olympic trainer, John Underwood. Partnering with the Veteran Navy SEALS of Applied Performance Sciences, the program’s message of healthy choices and positive leadership empowers students to hold one another accountable to decisions that lead to optimal performance.

John’s research on sleep, nutrition, substance use, mood, mindset, and recovery all show the impacts of these factors on an individual and group’s performance. Utilizing leadership skills such as communication, debriefing, conflict management, strategic planning, and more, gives students hands-on, practical application knowledge on how to lead their peers to making these healthy choices for the betterment of themselves, their school, and their community.

Although the program is also known as Life of an Athlete, the Illinois chapter of this national project targeted to all students, not just athletes. Living your best lifestyle pertains to academics, athletics, extra-curricular, and any type of performance.

John Underwood

John Underwood is the founder of the Life of an Athlete Human Performance Project and was instrumental in designing the Human Performance Program for the US Navy SEAL Teams.  A former NCAA All-American, International-level distance runner and World Masters Champion, John has coached or advised more than two dozen Olympians including World and Olympic Champions. He holds three International Olympic Solidarity diplomas for coaching and has appeared as a guest commentator for ABC Wide World of Sports.  John has served as a human performance adviser to many high level sport federations including the NCAA, NHL, NBA, NFL, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sport Canada and the International Olympic Committee.

john underwood, life of an athlete, illinois human performance project

Applied Performance Sciences

Applied Performance Sciences (APS) is dedicated to expanding the capacity for performance in human beings at the individual and organizational levels. Achieving peak performance in any discipline requires a specific set of conditions and specialized preparation—physical, mental, behavioral, and neurobiological. With a unique understanding of these factors, APS has developed methods for applying them to teams and individuals to maximize performance. Founded by US Navy SEALs and developed in conjunction with Olympic and professional sport coaches, Veteran Navy SEALS deliver content and training that is applicable to any environment in which peak performance is desired. 

Human Performance Project

In Illinois


Meet the IL HPP Team

Erin Donlin

Erin is our newest Prevention Specialist with IL HPP! Her primary role will be working with our local communities to help encourage, educate, and support coaches and youth to live their best lives! She also helps to create social media content, assist with website design and maintenance, host events and activities as well as participate in outreach to build connections and promote chapter development. Erin has a very diverse background and skillset starting with a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture, certification in health and life coaching, strong sales experience, eye for artistic creativity, and strong communication skills.  


Kaira Klingler

Kaira is the Project Lead on the IL HPP initatives. From a young age, Kaira has had a passion for leadership development, helping others, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This stayed with her throughout her college experience at the University of Alabama where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on interpersonal relationships, addiction, and human growth and development. She began her career working with parents of young children which lead to her learning more about the world of prevention. After being in the prevention field for five years, she has continued to be inspired by her long-lasting passions. Kaira’s favorite aspect of the Illinois Human Performance Project is having the opportunity to enhance the well-being of young people through education. When she is not rooting on her college football team or in the office, Kaira enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with a local animal rescue.

Mangaya Kposowa

Mangaya is a Nutritionist and Certified Health Education Specialist. Health and wellness are important to her because feeling good and being healthy serve as the foundation for achieving goals and enjoying life. To help others improve their lives, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in nutrition with a minor in business from Ohio State University. Afterwards, she received her masters in public health with a concentration in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. She has had many experiences in the area of health and wellness. These include implementing programs, designing and teaching lessons, health screening, research, evaluation, nutrition education, drug-abuse prevention, and helping individuals reach goals through motivational interviewing and goal setting. Her role for the IL Human Performance Project as a Prevention Specialist focuses on nutrition and other science modules. She is passionate about helping youth and using her skills and knowledge to help them live happy, productive, and peaceful lives.

Abbie Lee

Abbie, a prevention specialist, graduated from Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, MI, where she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Speech Communication while concentrating in both Public Advocacy and English Literature. She has always had a strong passion for working with an active nonprofit organization such as, OMNI Youth Services, and is excited for the work she will be doing with IL HPP. Abbie is looking forward to working alongside the prevention team to help encourage youth to live their best lives by making the best choices they can for themselves.

Jess Millan

Jess, a prevention specialist, graduated from DePaul University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Masters in Marketing. She has always had a passion for mental and physical well-being, and is excited to be able to collaborate with her team and creatively spread the project’s message.

Jorie Ouimet

Jorie Ouimet has over 17 years of experience in the field of health prevention, education and community outreach. She currently is the Link Together Coalition Prevention Project Lead in Wheeling Township. Implementing evidence-based high school and middle school prevention programming and working with students on building leadership skills are two of many current projects she manages. Jorie believes that empowering and educating students to be the best version of themselves are key components to their successful future.

Amelia Staniszewski

Amelia is a prevention specialist who graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she completed her Bachelors of Science in Community Health with a concentration in Healthcare Administration. Amelia has a strong passion for leveraging concepts of both public health and community intervention in order to make a lasting difference in communities and help create a more safe, healthy and successful future for individuals. She has a strong passion for nonprofit work and is excited to collaborate with her team in order to allow for communities to thrive and have an inclusive approach for helping individuals reach their fullest potential.

Nick Taylor

Nick graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism with a Minor in Leadership Studies. He has a strong passion for the connection between leadership and athletics and is interested in how people’s different leadership qualities can all contribute to a team’s success. Overall, Nick is excited to demonstrate to youth how to unlock their full leadership potential!

george tragoudas, prevention specialist, human performance project of illinois

George Tragoudas

George, a prevention specialist, graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, concentrating in Cognitive Neuroscience. George has a strong passion for identifying neural mechanisms behind decision-making, and has used his knowledge to encourage children and adolescence to replace maladaptive behaviors with healthy, adaptive behaviors. He looks forward to using his experiences and knowledge alongside the prevention team to help children make the best choices they can.

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This work is made possible by OMNI Youth Services. Please visit their website to learn more about the variety of services they offer.