Holy Cross Athletics Hosts Talk On Student-Athlete Physical And Mental Health Balance
By Julian Jackson
Special to GoHolyCross.com
On Thursday, Sept. 21, Holy Cross Student-Athletes came together at the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex for the second half of a discussion on mental and physical health and balance that began in the spring of 2017. Dr. Sharon Chirban, a clinical sport psychologist and Christina Figueroa, a registered dietician and specialist in sport nutrition and eating disorders from Amplifying Performance Consulting, LLC., presented to the student-athletes, emphasizing the importance of finding balance in their lives— both in the classroom and on the field—to achieve their best self.
The talk began with a mindfulness meditation, allowing student-athletes to reflect. The exercise taught the essentials of meditation, and associated benefits both on and off the playing surface.
Armani Dawkins, assistant director of athletics/student-athlete development, coordinates the Be Well Series. “The biggest thing is continuing to break down the stigmas that come with being a Division I student-athlete, performing at the highest level athletically, academically, and thinking that you are untouchable and nothing can affect you. We are at a place now where we can have these conversations,” said Dawkins.
Prior to their talk on Sept. 21, Chirban and Figueroa ventured to campus on Sept. 15 to spend a day in the life of a Holy Cross Student-Athlete. They ate in Kimball Dining Hall, met with the Counseling Center, Health Services, Sports Medicine, the Athletics Chaplain, and more Holy Cross resources that are dedicated to helping student-athletes succeed.
Dawkins emphasized the importance of the cross-campus collaboration in the organization and effectiveness of the event. “We put all of the key players from campus who have a hand in the mental health and wellness of our student-athletes in one room, and had them share the resources they make available to student-athletes. This also brought up messages that Dr. Chirban and Christina could reinforce or bring up.”
Senior women’s lacrosse captain, Julia Maloney, stressed the value of the Be Well Series. “Events like the Be Well Speaker Series gives us opportunities to get better off the field through academics, personal health, nutrition, and team chemistry. By discussing topics that aren't limited to our individual sports, we get the chance to work on becoming more well-rounded and balanced student-athletes.”
As a veteran member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, Maloney understands the need for mindfulness and mentorship. “Playing at such a high level of competition while attending an academically challenging college is not easy. Especially for freshmen, who are trying to adapt and find their place in this school,” she emphasized. “It's difficult sometimes to recognize personally that we're not prioritizing these issues, and that's where we lean on our teammates to help us. If, as a team, we can help each other acknowledge and discuss these issues, then we can prevent or lessen anything that would affect an individual’s and the team's success,” Maloney added.
With just a few weeks before the start of his season, Senior men’s ice hockey assistant captain, T.J Moore, echoed other student-athletes, and spoke to the importance of the event with another grueling hockey season right around the corner. “It takes everyone's best effort to fulfill our team's potential. It is always beneficial to learn more about balancing our lives in order to succeed athletically and educationally, and our team is thankful for the opportunity.”
The discussion of mental and physical health through the Be Well Series will undoubtedly help the Holy Cross Student-Athletes work towards a stronger academic, social, and athletic balance, leading to strong performances throughout the 2017-2018 academic year.