CSUSB student athletes on the softball team reveal the difficulties of learning from home and the toll it’s taken on their mental health.
Student athletes have had a year of online schooling, sports and other activities. For many, this transition has been hard and came with a cost: their mental health.
Kiki Foley, a junior transfer on the CSUSB softball team, discusses overcoming two cancelled seasons and her approach to coping with emotions during this time.
“Ever since high school, I’ve dealt with generalized anxiety disorder. I’ve been able to find new ways to cope by relying on my parents and best friends as a positive support system,” says Foley.
Foley sheds light on the stigmatization of mental health and suggests that the best option to get help is by asking. She says that reaching out to anyone over mental health concerns can be scary because of how people may react, but it’s the first step to overcoming struggles.
The pandemic has brought budget cuts to many universities and departments. Although this is a potential worry for student athletes, Hayden Greene, a freshman, says her coaches have made it a priority to sustain 100% of all of the scholarship money.
Greene, who resides in northern California, states, “It has felt like I’m at a disadvantage being so far away from my school and teammates. We’re all staying safe, but it would make me happy to see them occasionally.”
She has been trying to remain in a positive mindset by connecting with nature. Working out, going on hikes and heading out to the lake are some of her favorite activities to disconnect from the current state of the world.
Becoming overwhelmed with the pandemic and staying on top of a schedule has made it harder for student athletes to remain focused and relaxed.
“It’s easy to overwork yourself from the moment you get up until the sun goes down, but it’s not going to be beneficial,” says Greene.
A balanced lifestyle has become important to many student athletes during this time. Despite the break they get because of a cancelled season, they continue to work hard and improve their game.
A critical aspect in the life of a student athlete relies heavily on grades. Foley explains about 67% of her teammates have seen either a decrease in their grades or a lack in motivation. A good-standing GPA is required to be eligible for participation in games, and Foley notes that coaches and teammates can be there for support when needed. But because of a virtual setting for classes, many have lost motivation.
The physical absence of community has been taxing on the mental health of one freshman softball player, Faith Jimenez.
“At the beginning of quarantine, I wanted to see a therapist because my mental health was at an all-time low. Softball is an outlet for me, so losing the game meant losing that connection with my teammates and coaches,” says Jimenez.
The CSUSB softball team has been working to maintain the connection they formed prior to quarantine. Jimenez states their team works best when they are all playing their best for each other, not for themselves.
Many have expressed the big change from being with their teammates all day, practicing collectively for the national championship, to an individual setting where they practice solely by themselves. They touched on the difficulties of maintaining the championship mindset, as they are still uncertain about when they’d return to campus and when their next season would be.
A majority of the CSUSB softball team now consists of freshmen and transfers who have not yet had the opportunity to move onto campus and meet their teammates in person.
The team stays connected and active in hopes of news regarding their return to campus.
Freshman Bailey Wallace notes how COVID changed her perspective and priorities in life.
“This time has opened my eyes and gave me a whole new respect for softball. I evaluated how much softball meant to me and took it as a motivation to workout and get better everyday,” says Wallace.