Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Why share my story and experiences? My story is full of twists and unexpected turns and along the way, I have learned about who I am as a human on this earth, a small piece to the puzzle of humanity, about the influence and power of mentorship and guidance and fueling a passion for lifelong learning. This is probably a long first post, but I’m new to this and learning. Hang tight :)
Born and raised in northern Indiana, I began my journey with sports as a basketball player (as all kids from Indiana do, right?). I’ve always been competitive. Wanting to win at everything I did. Along with basketball, I danced, cheered, twirled baton, was on a competitive bowling team, played softball and ran track. I gave volleyball a shot in the 7th grade and it turned out that it came naturally to me. Throughout my journey as a volleyball player, I experienced heartache from not getting playing time that I felt I deserved, the fun of traveling with my family to tournaments (which is a whole blog post in itself… parents you do not have to kill yourself trying to make every second of every game, your kid will survive!), the joys of winning individual and team accolades, healthy conflict, toxic conflict, and bonding with others who have similar interests as yours. I decided to pursue volleyball as the sport I’d continue in college. I chose UNC Asheville in beautiful Asheville, NC to get out of Indiana for a while and try something new.
Being a student-athlete is TOUGH. There were lots of tears. I wanted to go home after hard practices or defeating losses. With my teammates by my side, we figured it out. In my freshman year, I found myself behind two outstanding players in my position. This was new to me... and hard. I hadn’t been a role player in quite some time. Then my coach asked me if I wanted to play somewhere else on the court. New position? Scary. Playing time? Hell yeah. Competition was intense and consuming in my time at UNCA (and you can ask any of my teammates, winning was really ALL I CARED ABOUT back then, even if it meant hurt feelings), but the lasting memories, friendships, and life lessons are what I will keep with me forever. For example. I have been in at least 9 weddings. I have snuggled teammates’ babies and embraced them as my own nieces and nephews. And UNC-Asheville had a partnership with the local club, which sparked a passion in me to give back to my sport and coach.
I graduated in May of 2012 with a degree in psychology. I joined the ranks of division one coaching a month later. Shortly after that, I moved to East Carolina in the same role, where I stayed as Assistant Coach for 4 years.
I love coaching. I love working with young women through some of the toughest and yet amazing times of their lives. The gym and around athletes is where I feel most alive. After coaching for a few years, I recognized that there were not enough resources for student-athletes to access the mental health care they were seeking. So I thought, I need to become one of those resources, and I returned to school to pursue my master’s in Clinical Counseling in 2016.
I am now an eating disorder and body image therapist at a wonderful practice in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Blessed to work with people that have the same desire and drive for advocacy as me.
My desire is to create a future where body neutrality is the norm. A future that recognizes people have so much more to offer to the world than their bodies. I love working with student-athletes who are experiencing some of these body image, disordered eating, anxiety, and depression symptoms because I have been in their shoes.
This blog is titled Sports, Food, and Mental Health. My goal is to use humor and straight-shooting to help educate the ones’ that read on the connection between mental health and physical health, how parents and coaches can encourage resiliency and problem-solving in teenagers, how food is not the enemy and reclaiming it as a basic need for sustaining life, and that everyone deserves equal access to mental health information and skills, in a space free from shame. Thanks for following along on this journey with me.