Chicago was knocking on the door of 100° all week. A brief walk could bring on a full sweat. The annual Good Athlete Project 5k was coming up and we weren’t quite sure how we’d be able to pull it off! But then, Saturday came along, and it was 70° on the lakeshore. A beautiful day to be with beautiful people in the name of a great cause.
We gathered in Harold Washington Park, a clean patch of green in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the south side of Chicago – one of the most beautiful views of the skyline you can imagine. It was a small but high-quality event. About sixty of us gathered to walk or run. The Good Athlete Project team was joined by friends, family, a few dogs, members of the Infant Welfare Society (aka IWS Family Health), and the good folks of Sport Fuel, Inc. and Rebellious Teas. They are proving to be fantastic people and partners on this journey. (Special shoutout to Julie Burns and her team, as well as Michelle DiBenedetto and the rockstars at IWS).
This year, our fourth anniversary of the event, we officially aligned with our Team Embrace initiative. The mission of Team Embrace is to help coaches and athletes create cultures which embrace difficult conversations – namely, the conversation of mental health.
We believe that if you are part of a team, there should always be someone to talk to. Coaches are always comparing teams to families. Well, families take care of each other. In these close-knit groups which share a purpose, reciprocal support should an expectation – part of the culture – in no way undercutting the value of hard work, toughness, or grit.
This work became especially meaningful after we lost a friend, colleague, and former player to suicide. We miss him. His memory lives on in many ways, but Team Embrace is the vehicle we use to be sure his life continues to have a positive influence on others.
Mental health is a complex issue. There is no guaranteed path to success. But one thing is certain: issues rarely clear up on their own. So embrace the conversation, consider the whole person (not just the athlete), and connect people with the support they might need.
Interested in learning more, setting up an informational workshop at your school, or joining us for next year’s 5k? Follow us on social media and on goodathleteproject.com