Fueling Your Athletic Career, Draining Your Mental Health

February 27, 2023


Underlying the stress and depression lies the student-athlete everyone looks up to. Student-athletes work so hard to keep up with their sport and academics, that they hardly are able to keep up with themselves.


Stressors or Issues?

A very common conflict is the mental health of our student-athletes. This is because some of our student-athletes are having a hard time keeping up with academics and athletics because of the mental state of high schoolers. There are always the questions of “Am I good enough? What if I’m not good enough? Am I actually trying?”

Some student-athletes are depressed or overly happy, but when the time comes to perform the sport, the pressure can get into their heads and affect how they play. Most athletes don’t suffer from depression or stress because they already take care of their needs and mental state. Other student-athletes prioritize academics and athletics over taking care of themselves.


Building Up Muscle

Student-athletes are used to just playing other athletes who are closer to their ages. Instead, our student-athletes are put on the stand to compete against kids older, stronger (emotionally and physically), and more experienced than they are. Our student-athletes are learning to get new techniques and strategies from playing up and playing the sport that they do. 

Cannon Myers, a freshman basketball player, stated, “It’s been crazy, but I’ve been able to manage my time into doing work and still getting to do sports like sometimes I do work during lunch so I don’t have to worry about doing it while I play.” Cannon, like many other student-athletes, don’t have a large workload because he gets the things that he can do, done. He also checks in with teachers beforehand to see what he can do to be successful. 

While Lincoln O’Brien, a freshman wrestler, stated, “Just being around everyone has been a really positive experience, and the team shows great sportsmanship and encouragement.” Lincoln pointed out that your teammates are there to help and support you too. Most athletes prioritize the mental health of their teammates before playing the game or sport they love.


Unfair Opportunities. Why?

There are many missed opportunities for our student-athletes. Sure, there are the tournaments and competitions, but because we’re a new school with not a defined sports program, there are always going to be things we’re going to miss out on. But there’s always something we as a school are doing that other schools that don’t have the opportunity to do. 

Student-athletes think that there are so many opportunities that aren’t being offered, but then when you think about it, there are a lot of other opportunities that other schools can’t have. There’s also the same glowing passion for the sport, as stated by Zadia Diaz, a freshman basketball player, “The opportunity to meet new people and other people that have the same passion for the sport as you are really uplifting and brings me joy.” Surrounding themselves with people who have the same passion as they make some student-athletes feel more included in the sport that they’re playing.


Same Player, Different Person

Students should know and care about the mental health of our student-athletes because eventually in the future if the mental health of our athletes could decrease and affect how we as a school could drastically drop in performance. Our student athletes’ mental health is really important because sometimes it affects how students play their sport, but other times it affects them as a peer or classmates. 

Sarah Hughes, a freshman swimmer, stated, “My team has made me into a kinder and more whole person and overall just a better peer and teammate.” Not all student-athletes feel the same way as other athletes, some have a more positive attitude towards the sport, while others can have a more negative attitude towards the sport they play. This matters because it’s important to understand that some student-athletes are over-stressed because of the amount of homework they have or maybe it’s the super important tournament coming up. Or other student-athletes might not be affected by the homework levels, anything is possible.


Grit and Perseverance, Next Step?

It’s important to raise awareness for all the pressure and stress that’s being put on our student-athletes because of playing juniors and seniors and how much stress and mental incapabilities. Students need to know what being an athlete means: having grit, perseverance, and determination. Being an athlete isn’t just about playing the sport, it’s about shaping your character, mentally and physically.

Taylor Braden, a freshman cheerleader, stated, “It’s been good to have ELO to get homework done because I don’t have time after school to do all of my homework. I would sometimes stay up super late to get all of my homework done before the next day.” Student-athletes have the challenge of asking for the work beforehand so they can be successful in academics while still performing to the fullest.

Keep an eye out for your student-athletes, you never know what they’re going through. It’s always important to help your fellow student-athletes and peers out because we don’t want mental incapabilities to overflow the athlete.

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