Mental resilience through sports

Believing in yourself and your abilities

All high school physical education classes have been leading dedicated discussions about the true meaning of sportsmanship. Physical Education and Athletics Director Jamian Rockhill explained the league’s advocacy to make mental wellness a priority. The goal is to improve experiences and participation in athletics and other districtwide programs.

“Unsportsmanlike conduct is averse to student performance,” Mr. Rockhill said. “There is often a disconnect between athletics and physical education, however we know the answer is to change the culture and show integrity at events. Our movement is toward better behavior.”

At the high school winter sports Meet the Coaches night, senior basketball player Karaline McCarthy and junior wrestler Wally Bourkia spoke to the parents, students and coaches about mental wellness and resilience. The student-athlete leaders were sharing information they learned at the Elevating Leaders through Mental Wellness conference. The workshop at the Foothills Council League Student-Athlete Leadership Summit was led by Alex Wulbeckera from Premier Sport Psychology, a licensed mental health firm that specializes in sport and health psychology. 

Managing emotional responses

According to research by Premier Sport Psychology, 90% of student-athletes surveyed do not respond well to negative crowd outbursts. These types of eruptions are in direct conflict with our mental wellness.

Karaline McCarthy addressed what mental wellness means. She said, “Being mentally well means that your mind is in order and functioning in your best interest. You are able to think, feel and act in ways that create a positive impact on your physical activities. You foster this individually by getting eight hours of sleep, keep your academics up to date, drink at least eight cups of water and get healthy. What we can do for each other is to be positive in our feedback.”

two students presenting a message in the gym
Wally Bourkia and Karaline McCarthy

Wally Bourkia addressed the meaning of resilience. He said, “Resilience is the process of successfully adapting to challenging life experiences. Resilience is a part of our athletic curriculum, and we have an opportunity to create educational experiences where we can see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Evidence shows that if student-athletes take deep breaths, count to five, and focus on what we can control we are more successful. If we athletes practice controlling ourselves, we learn emotional intelligence that will serve us well during adverse conditions this season and in our future.” 

AD Rockhill added that “Their message was well received by those in attendance and is in line with this year’s theme of Tartan Teamwork The 1 Tartan Way.