Anyone who’s ever played sports knows that mental resiliency is just as important as physical fitness. Oftentimes, it’s the hurdles we erect in our minds that are the hardest to overcome. Athletic administrators at University School of Milwaukee are in their second year of working with a dedicated sports psychologist to assist players and coaches overcome obstacles in a variety of ways.
In August, USM athletes and coaches participated in a sports psychology seminar titled “Wildcats Lead.” It was led by Tim Williams, USM’s director of athletics, and Mary Gonring, sport psychology consultant, mental health therapist at St. Marcus Lutheran School, and mental wellness coach for Concordia University athletics. The presentation focused on three main topics: positive leadership through sport, peak sport performance, and mental health.
Gonring works with individual teams and coaches throughout the school year, and is able to tailor her offerings based on the needs of the team. Her work can range from team building efforts to positive self-talk, resiliency, participation, and social aspects of sports.
This year, USM athletic teams are focusing on the leadership aspect of sports, whereas last year they focused on peak performance. “We want our student athletes to achieve success in whatever sport they play, but also to be positive leaders and role models in our community,” said Williams. “Working with a sport psychologist is as much for leadership and character development and positive mental health as it is for peak performance.”
Players and coaches have reacted positively to the program, which runs for the entire school year. “The response I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Williams. “The coaches really like it, and the players seem to really like it, too.”