by Morgan Hancock
Athletes live in a culture of perfection and pressure that can lead to high stress, these Cal Poly Humboldt students want to address that. Gracie Kasberger founded this campus’ branch of Dam Worth It. Dam Worth It is a nonprofit that supports athletes struggling with mental health. Athletes’ mental health has become a bigger conversation since the recent double feature Olympics. High-profile athletes are setting precedents by putting their mental health first. Students like Kasberger are laying the groundwork for a new culture in athletics.
Kasberger is a kinesiology major and track athlete, she saw a need to support her peers. The athletics department doesn’t have any counseling services for athletes, so students are on their own. They balance classes, practice, work, and self-care. Kasberger expressed that students will often put their mental health on the back burner.
“I’ve noticed more pro athletes coming out about their mental health and saying that they are struggling,” Kasberger said. “It’s something that is being normalized. Athletes go in and get help when they’re injured, but they’re not doing the same for their mental health. We’re bringing attention to it, we want athletes to have access to help and feel like they can speak out.”
Travis Allen is a track athlete who opened his season at the Green and Gold event last weekend. Allen expressed how sports can offer a mental haven for athletes, but with it also comes added stress.
“Mental Health is often overlooked, especially with athletes,” Allen said. “Teammates are like a family, there is a lot of support from each other.”
Each athlete filled out a card with the reason why they are ‘dam worth it’.
“I’m ‘dam worth it’ because I am me,” Allen said.
Sue Grigsby, Lumberjack class of ‘79 track hall of famer and record shatterer, attended the legacy event. Grigsby has seen the pressures change for students over the years. Students have increased pressures from athletics and an unstable world.
“If you have a vision problem or dental problem or a knee injury you seek help,” said Grigsby. “Athletes should do the same for their brains. It’s okay to seek help, there are ways to get help.”
Student-Athletes often define themselves by their sport. They use athletic success as a measure of their worth. Clara Lenihan struggled to define herself outside of her sport once she ended her soccer career.
“When I introduce myself I start with ‘oh I play soccer,” Lenihan said. “Now that I don’t play anymore I don’t know what to say. Sports is such a big part of our lives.”