Mental health in student athletes

Jaden Reyna, Staff Writer

Being a student-athlete is no simple task. They have to juggle school, sports, sometimes even work, and still have enough time for themselves and their families. It can be exhausting and have a huge effect on your mental health.

Mental health is not talked about enough in athletics. As much as practicing and performing well during sports games is important, so is taking care of yourself.

“Mental health is a tough subject especially in sports because you don’t want to be seen as weak. We need to talk about it more because we are not alone,” team captain for the boy’s volleyball team, Owen Smith said. 

One thing athletes tend to struggle with is time management. Some athletes don’t get home until late in the day because they have to attend practice right after school. This can lead to not having enough time to eat, shower, and do homework.

Athletes have to prioritize these things, and often taking care of themselves properly is the first thing to do. 

Sophomore Jackson Wurz plays multiple sports here at Gunderson. Like many athletes, he also struggles with finding free time in his busy schedule.

“I play sports year-round so I almost have no free time or anything else,” Wurz said, “Even over summer, I have workouts and practices which makes doing non-sports stuff harder.” 

Wurz overcomes this issue by keeping his priorities straight. He has found that taking things one day at a time is a lot less overwhelming and helps him finish his work on time. He recommends that if everything is too stressful, take a break from practice and come back when you’re ready.

Another thing athletes struggle with is stress and pressure from their family, coaches, or even themselves.

Senior Jason Huynh is the captain of the badminton team. He has realized when playing badminton that a lot of the anxiety he experiences is from himself.

Before a match, Huynh will often overthink how he will play or how good his opponent is, which affects his gameplay. To combat this Huynh will close his eyes for a few minutes and sit down, to clear his head and relax before his match. He also focuses on helping his teammates with their matches, which prepares him for his own match.

“One thing that all athletes should remember is that it is alright to lose or make mistakes because those are steps for you to improve more and eventually get to where you want,” Huynh said.

Sophomore Hawa Aman was a team captain for the girl’s soccer team at Gunderson. As captain, she experiences a lot of pressure from her coach and family to perform perfectly out on the field. 

“I have the problem of having a clouded head, while I’m playing or beforehand,” Aman said, “I have trouble clearing my mind and staying positive.”

One thing that helps Aman clear her mind is her teammates. That reassurance from those on the field with her is a reminder that she knows what she is doing, and has support from her friends even if she messes up.

Some athletes also feel alone when it comes to these things. Senior Travis Torrello, a boys volleyball team captain, agrees that all athletes can feel this way.

Torrello also gets stressed out before games and has found that most of his team does as well. During finals, everyone is struggling to find time to participate in sports as well as have time to study for their exams.

One way he fixes this problem is by studying with his teammates. Studying with his team allows them to help one another when they need it.

“There’s a lot of athletes that go through the same struggles every day and just need someone in the end,” Torrello said. “That’s why you should have friends around you so you can tell them all these things or your family which[ever] you feel more comfortable with.”