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No off season when it comes to mental health

How one alumna knows that when it comes to sports, mental health is just important as physical.  

“I always wanted to play sports in college and chose Carondelet because it was the perfect fit for me,” said Katie. “I enjoyed the small classes and the diversity of the people I met at Carondelet - students from cities all over the East Bay. People I would not normally cross paths within public school were now my classmates, teammates, and friends. I am truly thankful I had the opportunity to attend Carondelet.”

Katie was excited to attend the University of Redlands to play soccer and softball. She had been an athlete her entire life and playing in college had been her dream. Unfortunately, an injury her freshman year in college required surgery. “It was a long year of rehabilitation that challenged me mentally and physically,” said Katie. She started her sophomore year strong, balancing her first season playing softball with school and continuing to play soccer. Yet again she faced injuries that required surgery and brought her season to an end. “I had never been injured before and it was a tough start to my college career. I had 4 surgeries in 4 years, a lot for a 20-year-old to handle,” shared Katie.

Her senior year at Redlands, she took a sports psychology class and she knew she found her passion. Katie said, “I reflected back on all the experiences I had endured in college - the surgeries, self doubt, anxiety, countless months of rehabilitation and the challenges of returning to competition post injury - and realized I could share these experiences with other athletes to help them through their journey.” Katie graduated college and went on to receive her Masters in Sports Psychology.

Sports psychology used to be considered a luxury for professional athletes who were in a ‘slump’ or recovering from a serious injury. Today, mental health is at the forefront of public awareness with olympians like Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Lindsey Vonn sharing their personal mental health battles with the world. “Now athletes, coaches and parents are beginning to understand the mental ‘game’ is just as important as the physical training, ” Katie said.

“It’s been twelve years since I started my own practice, Mind Fit Performance, and I love my job! I work with young athletes on how to use mental skills such as visualization and self-talk to help them compete at their best,” said Katie. When asked how she communicates with parents, Katie advises, ”Young athletes usually focus on the negatives on their own, so parents can help their child look at the positive aspects of a match or game. Help them focus on what they did well and remind them that mistakes happen and are an important part of the process.”

Building mental health awareness into youth sports programs is one of Mind Fit Performance’s goals. She currently partners with AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) providing a number of tools to the national organization. Katie’s future outlook, “One day, I hope to be known as the ‘go-to person’ for adolescent females to learn mental skills and strategies that can help them in sport and life. I’d also love to write a book educating coaches and parents on the positive ways to influence and work with athletes for optimal performance.”


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