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Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance

In 2020, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters came together to create a platform to focus on mental wellness for youth athletes. From a shared vision, the Youth Sports: Coaching Positive Mental Health forum series was developed in partnership with Michael Cuddyer, former MLB All-Star, and Betsy Cutler, M.Ed., of Cutler Wellness Programs, LLC. The goal of the forum series was to bring awareness to the mental health crisis in youth sports and to provide resources to youth sports stakeholders, coaches, parents, and athletes. Over the course of 14 months, three programs were presented, A Pandemic Playbook, Bench the Stigma, and #WhoRU.

Following the success of these programs the Hall, CHKD, and Cutler Wellness Programs spearheaded the formation of the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance. The Alliance will bring together youth sports stakeholders throughout the community to promote positive mental health and wellness in sports, and to work toward the following objectives:
Alliance Objectives:

  • Identify mental health trends and concerns in youth sports.
  • Provide expertise and ideas for mental health and wellness programs for coaches, parents, and athletes.
  • Share mental health educational resources.
  • Promote, market, and advocate for youth sports mental health and wellness programs

In 2024 the Alliance will continue the conversation around youth sports and mental health throughout the year with Sports & Mental Health conversations, #SportsMentalHealthMonday social media posts, and further events and workshops  aimed at providing support to youth athletes and their families, coaches, officials, and additional stakeholders. Through all of these platforms you will hear insight and expertise from stakeholders in and around youth sports in Virginia.

#SportsMentalHealthMonday and the Sports & Mental Health conversations can be found on the Hall of Fame’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages. Join us as we help to create a positive and healthy atmosphere throughout youth sports in Virginia.

Media Coverage – WAVY TV

https://www.wavy.com/video/changing-the-game-tackling-mental-health-in-youth-sports/8492721/

June - Sports Mental Health Monday

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 6-17-2024, Erin Sutton

Erin Sutton – Kempsville High School, student-athlete

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance

On a recent Sports & Mental Health Conversation, we spoke to Erin Sutton, a rising senior student-athlete at Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach. Entering high school, Sutton dealt with injuries that limited her ability to play the sports she loves, and her mental and emotional health suffered as result. Here she discusses how she was able to overcome those challenges and how a better understanding of her mental state helped in her personal and athletic development.

Full conversation with Sutton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNyBDYEJXzw&t=8s

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#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 6-10-2024, Pete Allen

Pete Allen – City of Norfolk, Parks & Recreation

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
In a recent Sports & Mental Health Conversation, co-chair of the Alliance and Hall of Fame Executive Director, Will Driscoll was joined by Pete Allen from Norfolk Parks and Recreation. Allen discussed the work community organizations like Parks & Rec can do to improve mental health through their sports programs.
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May - Sports Mental Health Monday

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 5-13-2024, Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy – Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
Football official, Michael Kennedy, discusses the difference between a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset for youth athletes, and how coaches and parents can help foster the growth mindset that can lead to positive development on and off the field of play.
Kennedy will also be participating on the panel as part of the Alliance’s event Developing the Youth Athlete – A Team Approach (Forum & Workshops), Monday, May 20.
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#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 5-6-2024, Alliance News Coverage

Alliance News Coverage – WAVY-TV/FOX 43

#SportsMentalHealthMondday this week again focuses on our upcoming Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance event, Monday, May 20.
Developing the Youth Athlete – A Team Approach (Forum & Workshops) will feature multiple area stakeholders from youth and collegiate athletics, discussing how we can collectively create a positive approach to mental health in sports. The event will feature a panel discussion, and multiple breakout sessions for a more targeted approach.
Thank you to WAVY TV 10 for their coverage of the upcoming event. You can register at the link provided in the story, or visit the Hall’s website and find it under the EVENTS tab.

WAVY – Story Link

April - Sports Mental Health Monday

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 4-29-2024, Coaching with Empathy

Positive Coaching Alliance – Coaching with Empathy

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
The Alliance has partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance to provides workshops and resources to our supporters. This week we would like to share a post on the importance of Empathy in coaching. Coaches who use empathy in their approach, can create stronger connections with their athletes.
You can also hear more about this approach from a previous Sports & Mental Health Conversation with Chris Panayiotou from Virginia Rush Soccer Club.

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 4-15-2024, Alliance Event

Developing the Youth Athlete – A Team Approach

Todays #SportsMentalHealthMonday comes with an exciting announcement. The Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance is pleased to announce to its first event:
“Developing the Youth Athlete: A Team Approach” Monday, May 20, 6-8 pm in the Big Blue Room at Chartway Arena.
The event will feature a panel discussion on mental health & wellness in youth and collegiate athletics, and two breakout sessions/workshops that will provide a more targeted approach for youth athletes, and parents & coaches.
The event is FREE to attend, but you must register at the link below.

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 4-8-2024, Emma Rowland

Emma Rowland – Old Dominion University, Women’s Lacrosse student-athlete

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.

More from our conversation with Old Dominion University Athletics Student Athletes. Emma Rowland from ODU Women’s Lacrosse how normalizing mental health in sports helps create a greater sense of community amongst student-athletes, which in-turn improves performance on the field.

Full conversation with Rowland and her fellow student-athletes is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6zguD0rxi4&t=324s

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March - Sports & Mental Health Conversation - Michael Kennedy, Football Official

March 2024 - Sports & Mental Health Conversation

Michael Kennedy – Football Official, American Athletic Conference, United Football League, and Director of Training for the Southeastern Football Officials

The Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance hosted a Sports & Mental Health Conversation with Michael Kennedy, an on-field football official for the American Athletic Conference in NCAA Division-I, and the United Football League for professional football. Kennedy is also the Director of Training for the Southeastern Football Officials (SEFOA) which services all southside Hampton Roads high school and middle school football teams. The conversation was hosted by Alliance co-chair, and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director, Will Driscoll. The conversation focused on the role of officials in the sports ecosystem, and how mental health & wellness plays a vital role in their well-being on and off the field.

March - Sports Mental Health Monday

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 3-25-2024, Shannon Quaile

Shannon Quaile – Old Dominion University, Field Hockey student-athlete

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
More from our conversation with Old Dominion University Athletics Student Athletes. Shannon Quaile from ODU Field Hockey discusses how student-athletes are working to prioritize mental health support and resource, in the same way their physical health & wellness is looked after.
Full conversation with Quaile and her fellow student-athletes is available here: https://youtu.be/G6zguD0rxi4?feature=shared
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#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 3-18-2024, Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy – South Eastern Football Officials Association

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
In one of our recent Sports & Mental Health conversations, we caught up with Michael Kennedy an on-field football official for the American Athletic Conference in NCAA Division-I, and the United Football League for professional football. Kennedy is also the Director of Training for the Southeastern Football Officials Association (SEFOA) which services all southside Hampton Roads high school and middle school football teams. Here Kennedy describes techniques officials can use to maintain their own mental health & wellness, while dealing with the pressures of officiating athletic events.
Full conversation with Kennedy is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U24z_HCE04Q&t=263s
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#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 3-11-2024, Ryley van der Velde

Ryley van der Velde – Virginia Wesleyan University, Field Hockey Head Coach

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance.
More from our recent conversation with Virginia Wesleyan Athletics head field hockey coach, Ryley van der Velde. Breaking down the stigma associated with mental health in sports requires being willing to talk about it, but also listening. Here she describes where she has seen positive change.
Full conversation with van der Velde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eMugIXMluA&t=303s
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February - Sports Mental Health Monday

#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 2-26-2024, Ryley van der Velde

Ryley van der Velde – Virginia Wesleyan University, Field Hockey Head Coach

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance. In our most recent Sports & Mental Health conversation, we caught up with Ryley van der Velde, Head Field Hockey Coach for Virginia Wesleyan Athletics. Here she discusses the “invisible backpack” athletes carry, and how communication can help ease the burden of that backpack.
Full conversation with van der Velde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eMugIXMluA&t=300s
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#SportsMentalHealthMonday - 2-19-2024, Morgan's Message

Brooke Frishman – ODU Women’s Lacrosse, Morgan’s Message

#SportsMentalHealthMonday with the Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance. Recently we hosted a sports & mental health conversation with four student-athletes from Old Dominion University. Among the topics discussed was their involvement with ODU’s Chapter of Morgan’s Message. The aim is to increase the conversation around mental health for student-athletes, and the broader campus. Through monthly meetings and events, they hope to decrease the stigma associated with mental health & wellness.
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February - Sports & Mental Health Conversation - Ryley van der Velde, Virginia Wesleyan University Athletics

February 2024 - Sports & Mental Health Conversation

Ryley van der Velde – Head Coach, Virginia Wesleyan University Field Hockey

The Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance hosted a Sports & Mental Health Conversation with Ryley Van Der Velde, Head Field Hockey Coach for Virginia Wesleyan University Field Hockey. The conversation was hosted by Alliance co-chair, and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director, Will Driscoll. Among the topics discussed were the role of coaches in creating positive mental health atmosphere, how Van Der Velde uses here educational background in Mental Health Counseling to support her staff and athletes, how coaches can maintain their own mental health when dealing with the pressure to perform.

January - Sports & Mental Health Conversation - ODU Athletics

January 2024 - Sports & Mental health Conversation

Old Dominion University Student-Athletes.

The Youth Sports Mental Health & Wellness Alliance hosted a Sports & Mental Health Conversation with 4 student-athletes from ODU Athletics. The conversation was hosted by Alliance co-chair, and Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director, Will Driscoll. Joining Driscoll were: Josi John and Shannon Quaile from ODU Field Hockey, and Brooke Frishman and Emma Rowland from ODU Women’s Lacrosse. The conversation touched on a number of topics including the Morgan’s Message initiative on campus at ODU, how student-athletes are taking control of their mental health & wellness, and the importance creating a positive atmosphere for not only themselves but the next generation of student-athletes.
Full interview is available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6zguD0rxi4
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December - Mental Health in Sports

12-18-2023 - Timing

Brandy Gresham, Norfolk State University Athletics

As we round out 2023, we are looking back at many of our sports and mental health conversations that contributed to our #SportsMentalHealthMonday campaign. From our conversation with Brandy Gresham from Norfolk State Athletics, Gresham explains why now more than ever sports organizations and stakeholders should be putting the focus on mental health.
Full conversation with Gresham: https://youtu.be/GeJdGDqcfA4?feature=shared
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12-11-2023 - Future Progress

Duncan MacLeod

As we round out 2023, we are looking back at many of our sports and mental health conversations that contributed to our #SportsMentalHealthMonday campaign. From our conversation with Duncan MacLeod we discussed how stakeholders can continue to progress our approach to mental health in youth sports.
Full conversation with MacLeod: https://youtu.be/RChFsAkcAGs?feature=shared
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12-4-2023 - Pressure on Athletes

Dr. Joel Brenner – CHKD Sports Medicine

As we round out 2023, we are looking back at many of our sports and mental health conversations that contributed to our #SportsMentalHealthMonday campaign. From our conversation with Dr. Joel B., Dr. Brenner discusses how the pressure placed on youth athletes continues to grow, and stakeholders must be aware of this pressure to continue providing a positive atmosphere in sports.
Full conversation with Dr. Brenner: https://youtu.be/iQd7qQJeFUs?feature=shared
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Past #SportsMentalHealthMonday Posts (links)

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