While this year marked 40 years of the Summer Games in Stevens Point, it also marked the first year of Strong Minds. The clinic, devoted to helping athletes learn positive coping skills and stress management strategies, proved to be a hit with many athletes who were dealing with the stress associated with the elite competition at Summer Games.
But while the five interactive learning stations of Strong Minds are aimed at teaching skills that are beneficial while in athletic competition, they also teach important lessons that can be applied across all aspects of life. “The hope is that athletes can not only be better in their competitions when they’re here, but also live a little bit more stress-free lives out in the community,” Strong Minds Clinical Director Amy Yonkers said.
“The hope is that athletes can not only be better in their competitions when they’re here, but also live a little bit more stress-free lives out in the community.” – Strong Minds Clinical Director Amy Yonkers
“The stations include learning about stress… thinking about positive messages, doing some breathing exercises, doing some stretching and then thinking about your support system,” Yonkers said about the five components of the clinic.
In an interview with Summer Games Athlete Correspondent Nick Nawrocki, Michael Poll of North Suburban 8-02 explained that he enjoyed visiting Strong Minds in between competition. After feeling unsatisfied with his performance during a soccer game that had just ended, Poll especially enjoyed the Stress and You station where he learned stress management techniques with a stress ball.
“The ball helped me a lot. I feel like a new athlete with this ball. This ball is unbelievable, I feel much better,” Poll said with his new stress ball in hand.
Poll’s teammate Anthony Porter also experienced the positive effects of Strong Minds after their soccer team lost. While he initially didn’t want to go, Porter’s coach convinced him to try it out.
“My doctor will love that I did this,” Porter said after visiting Strong Minds.
Similar to Porter, Chris Krause of the Sheboygan Adult Program 5-07 utilized Strong Minds after hearing disappointing news. Krause had been disqualified in his track event, and his coach encouraged him to go to the clinic to decompress. After visiting, Krause felt much calmer.
Over the duration of the brand new clinic, more than 150 athletes visited to learn new coping skills and stress strategies. Overall, athletes enjoyed the implementation of Strong Minds at the 2019 Summer Games and felt as though it had immediate positive effects on their mental well-being. The athletes at this year’s Summer Games showcased not only their strong athleticism but also their strong minds!