By Matt Zahn


CHICAGO (CBS) — Sports on hold right now, not just for professional athletes, but for many high school and college athletes. For many student-athletes, that means their playing career is now over.

CBS 2’s Matt Zahn spoke with a local therapist who, as a former college volleyball standout, has a unique perspective to help out.

“I help them cope with different issues including mental health and performance issues,” says Audrey Grunst, a mental health coach for student-athletes. “During Covid-19 we’ve been focusing a lot on a growth mindset and helping athletes see the opportunity in this situation, but also allowing themselves to feel the loss and grief in their season or or an abrupt end to their athletic career.”

When asked if there might be a silver lining to these young athletes learning to deal with the current situation, Grunst responded “In my opinion, it’s not a popular opinion, but this is actually a great experience to have at a young age and overcome it.

“I speak from experience when I say that a tragic loss in the moment can feel terrible but in the future it can serve you if you use it for mental strength,” Grunst said.

As to how parents should deal with children who have had their sports careers abruptly ended, Grunst says “Some parents are going to over-react and read into every behavior like their kids are anxious and depressed, and some parents are going to under-react and assume that it’s normal.”

“For parents, what they need to do is look for for more consistent behaviors such as isolation, low mood and poor hygiene as a vague indicator and the kids are not able to get up and shower. If there’s an increase in substance abuse or behaviors that seem to be reckless, then there’s an indication that there’s something wrong. If the student-athlete is struggling and feeling mopey or sad, that’s actually normal if we think about it in the way of grief,” she said.

In addition to doing tele-therapy, Grunst has a free eBook to help athletes cope. Go to https://simplybeecounseling.net/performance.