Recently, the star HS pitcher for the Riverside High School (Tenn.), named Stephan Gant, drove his truck down a rural road, got out of the truck and shot himself.
Gant was no ordinary high school baseball player. Gant was the Jackson Sun's player of the year for three straight years. He was slated to play baseball at a perennial Top 25 baseball program and one of the best colleges in the country (Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN). Gant was on a glide path to the pros and seemingly had the whole world at his feet, but something deep and dark was troubling Stephan Gant.
The Main Point
How can a star athlete who is envied by so many have a care in the world?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, this question is part of the issue. We all think that athletes, who appear so mentally tough are immune from mental problems. It's also easy to overlook the signs of mental illness in people who appear so physically healthy. And athletes, who are in the spot light - whether if its local HS, college or the pros - do not do themselves any favors because they often shy away from the help that they need. Top athletes never want to appear weak to opponents, teammates, parents, coaches or the press.
Tips for Youth Sports Parents regarding the mental health of your kids.
- Watch for depression and anxiety issues in your young athlete and don't ignore them, even if your kid is a stand out star.
- Find a coach that builds confidence. Leave coaches that erode confidence. (I wish I took my own advice a few years ago.)
- Stop putting ridiculous pressure on your kids to perform at high levels. Your kid is not going to get a college scholarship or play in the pros - and I say that with 95% and 99% confidence. And as we learn anything from the tragic death of Stephan Gant, star athletes who are good enough to play in college or the pros are not immune.