Mental health impact on student-athletes

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 8:20 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With the WIAC's cancellation of the fall sports season, it marks nearly a full calendar year that one of the premiere division three conferences won't have any athletic events.

"Our passion. We play Division 3 because we love to play the game," said UW-Stout football player Mason Priebe.

When the WIAC canceled the fall sports season on Monday, it meant there would be a giant void in the lives for thousands of student-athletes across the state when they return to campus next month. Football camp for D3 teams was scheduled to start in two weeks.

"So missing out on something that you work so hard for and care so much for is definitely tough mentally. And just that extra time that you spend with your friends, practice can get tough but I wouldn't trade it for the world, it's the best time hanging out with your friends," said Priebe.

Six, Blugold senior volleyball players are set to graduate in either December or May.

Coach Kim Wudi says the loss of their final year of eligibility is devastating.

"My number one job right now is to make sure they're okay. But also, mental health is a big deal, I think our student-athletes, we try to do the best job we can to make sure that we're valuing for the person who they are and not the athlete that they are. And I really think that's where our focus is right now, we are going to make sure that they have all the resources they need to process this and cope with this but also there's a large part of that that we have to do together," said UW-Eau Claire volleyball coach Kim Wudi.

"That's part of their balance, that's also their trajectory vehicle, it's their vehicle to get an education. You take that away, there are going to be some mental health issues, there is going to be some personal conflict and be upset that I can't do what I love or maybe do what I was born to do," said UWEC Director of Athletics Dan Schumacher.

The absence of sports has been and continues to be a struggle for a passionate Blugold nation says Wudi, the long-time UWEC coach and former Blugold athlete.

“It’s really tough on our campus, our campus is really going to have a huge void with no athletics in the fall and so is our community. I think about the number of kids that come to our matches, the kids we missed out in camps this summer. Those are all the layers when you start thinking about just the loss of sports, and I think as a society when we are going through that together but now it’s like it’s hitting really close to home,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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