21 December 2021
It’s 7 in the evening and she sits down to look at her calendar for the week. Monday, work. Tuesday, practice. Wednesday, work again, double shift. Thursday, practice again, for 3 hours. Friday, work, yet again. Saturday and Sunday, homework for hours, more practice, more work. School, Monday through Friday. The coach says fit in everything, workouts, dieting, and time with friends on top of studying and homework. “There are only 24 hours in a day…” she mumbles to herself.
This person, like hundreds of other students at Atholton, have extremely hectic schedules in attempts to balance school, sports, and whatever else they may have to do.
Coaches and students are both attempting to prioritize their mental health in the midst of everything.
“Mental health is important to me every minute of every day, whether I am coaching or not.” says Coach Nick Sharp, club volleyball coach of 20 years at Maryland Juniors. Coaches of various sports are expected to train their players hard and make sure that they are reaching their full potential. However, while playing a sport, a student-athlete’s schedule tends to fill up and create difficulties for time management and potentially with the student-athletes mental health. Making sure that student-athletes are keeping up with their mental-health, coaches are trying to be more considerate of their players.
When sophomore and year round track runner, Jordan Price, was asked if she had a coach that she felt did a good job of understanding her busy schedule, she explained that a previous coach, “knew I had a lot of other things I did and knew I did another sport as well so he pushed me hard with the time he had with me and was patient”. Jordan went on to explain her jam-packed schedule and what coaches can improve on. She explained that coaches “could get better at checking up on you.” Jordan iterated that with her busy schedule, she would like to be checked in on and reached out to by her coaches.
When Coach Rob Moy, JV volleyball coach at Atholton, was asked if he felt that he took into account the mental health of students when coaching, he replied, “Yes, but it’s sometimes very difficult to manage because today’s kids have other distractions than past students, in particular, social media.” Coach Moy explained that sports aren’t the only thing that may distract student-athletes from their priorities and that other distractions may be more influential, like social media.
It is important to understand the perspectives of both coaches and players and what they would consider to be “accountability for mental health.” For example, when Jordan was asked about her busy schedule she explained that she has to cram in her school work and her sport and still some-how have time for friends and family and that she would appreciate some help from her coaches.
When Coach Nick and Coach Moy were asked about mental health they explained that it was very important to both of them that their players be supported in their mental health.
Even though coaches and players may not see eye to eye, it is important to both groups that mental health is accounted for in sports. The open conversation that coaches are clearly willing to have with players brings athletes one step closer to good mental health while playing a sport and feelings of support from coaches. The question that truly needs to be asked is this: what can coaches and players do to better communicate struggles about managing mental health?