Protecting Our Young Athletes Part 2

Last week I spent several hours with Dr. Jarrod Spencer, nationally recognized sports psychologist. Dr. Spencer is the author of “Mind of the Athlete—clearer mind, better performance.” Amy Swenson, two time olympian for the US Field Hockey Team writes, ” Any athlete who wants to take their game to the next level should consider the mental concepts in this book. Dr Jarrod Spencer will improve your performance.” In the forward  Matt Millen four time super bowl champions says, ” What gets overlooked in training, for the most part is the mental aspect, which is far more important than the physical part.”

Sitting in his office, Jarrod opened with some astonishing statistics regarding stress on college campuses assembled by the American Psychological Association.

30 PERCENT : the percentage rise in students seeking appointments at counceling centers between 2009-10 and 2014-15 even though there was only a 5% increase in enrollment

61 PERCENT: The. percent of college students seeking counseling who report anxiety.  Depression 49 %, stress 45 percent, family issues 31 percent, academic performance 28 percent and relationship problems 27 percent.

Given the increase in counsel seeking, which is greater than the increase in population consider that the mean student to counseling staff ratio is 1,737:1.

Dr.Spencer lectures all over the country to young athletes about mental health

Also almost equally alarming is the number 56 percent….The percentage of of counseling center directors who say their professional identity is psychology. Thirty percent say it is social work, 10 percent other, 2 percent higher education administration , and less than 1 percent medicine and nursing.

These statistics cover the general student body and not in isolation the competitive athlete who experiences stress at a much more intense level. In most cases the student athlete’s most important contact for mental health is their coach. But what if the coach is applying the wrong solutions and increasing stress? It is he or she that may be the problem. Coaches at the collegiate level are not required to register for course taking and  certification by authorities to recognize mental or physical abuse like secondary school coaches or even scout leaders.

Dr. Spencer points out that many Division one schools are hiring Directors of Sports Psychology, a position like other medical related training position and have a separate reporting stucture outside of the athletic department. These LICENSED psychologists not only could work with athletes but with coaches so early intervention and coaching techniques could be used to avoid serious issues.

The NCAA recognizes this as a serious issue so what are the obstacles??  Funding is the simple answer, but money seems to be found most everywhere for other priorities. In many cases, referrals are available, but there is no ongoing secure monitoring going on in most athletic programs.

Dr.Spencer works with professional, Olympic, college, high school athletes and coaches and teams across the country. Teams he works with include, University of Maryland, Old Dominion, and Lehigh . He has also worked with individual athletes from the University of Michigan, UNC, Ohio State, Princeton and many more.

He is available in the Lehigh Valley at his company office of Mind of the Athlete 3400 Bath Pike Suite 302 Bethlehem, Pa 18017. Tel 610 867 7770.  His email is drjarrod@mindoftheathlete and his web site is


Lafayette Comes Out Swinging Against W And M But Faulters In The Second Period

Jenn DeLongis battles for the ball

It was a determined Leopard squad that opened play in the first half at Williamsburg against William and Mary. In the first period Lafayette outshot the tribe 8-6 and out cornered them 3-1. Both teams battled the noontime heat and humidity, but fans were treated to an attacking, aggressive style.  There was  an initial goal by William and Mary at 28:46 by  Estelle Hughes from the Tribe who got the ball high on the circle and using a reverse chip shot lifted the ball high into the back of the cage.

Lafayette was not about to lie down in front of this nationally ranked team and responded 3 minutes later with a Molly McAndrew rocket that wizzed past the goalie for the first goal of her collegiate career. With the score knotted at one it looked like this might be a real battle.

Kristen Taylor looks to receive the open pass

Unfortunately William and Mary took advantage of a defensive miscue with 12 seconds left in the first period and Woodard Hooper lifted a shot high again to give William and Mary the 2-1 lead with one second left in the period.

Sara Park dives for the save

That goal seemed to deflate the Leopards as the second half was not as productive. There were points where Lafayette looked like they might break through but just could not connect to get. the goal. William and Mary used excellent teamwork as they scored 2 more goals at 43:15 and 52:39. In the second period, the oppressive heat slowed things down and Lafayette gave up 9 shots to 3 while they were blanked  on corners 1-0.


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The beauty of the game of field hockey is its team aspect. Three of William and Mary’s goals came with assists resulting in deflections and tap ins. There is no such thing as give to the star and let her score. Like most team sports every goal, every win is created by team movement. We began to see that in the first half and perhaps we will see more of that on Friday against Temple. The second thing that makes a sport like field hockey exciting is that there has to be risk taking to score and win . A team that continually looks for the “safe” pass will never see numbers light up on the scoreboard.

Although this weekend was not the result we hoped for, I think the leadership on this team is beginning to move it in the right direction. So ladies be fearless, believe in your teammates and yourselves and good things could happen against Temple on Friday.

I do have difference makers for this game. First, Lisa van der Geest was directing the play all game and encouraging her teammates to move forward. In addition she took 7 shots . Second I like the play of Kristen Taylor who was effective on both sides of the field. Ana Steps was an additional force on the field. Third or Fourth Molly McAndrew is getting better every game and will mesh together well with this team going forward.

So Friday at 7 pm at Rappolt Field and also broadcast via LSN.

A Tale Of Two Halves As The Leopards Fall To The Richmond Spiders

It was like two different games between two different teams,  as the Richmond Spiders built up a 3-0 lead in the first half off 9 shots to 1 for the Leopards and three penalty corners for the Spiders whereas Lafayette was shut out of corners altogether.  The second half was a different story when Lafayette exploded for 16 shots to only 2 for Richmond and 10 corners to none for the Leopards. That effort produced 2 goals for the Maroon and White, while Richmond added one, 10 minutes into the second period.

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The 4-0 lead at 45:10 into the game looked insurmountable until Lafayette’s rejuvenated offense clicked into gear 2 minutes later with Sam DiMaio somehow coming out of a scramble in front of the cage to find the back boards making it 4-1. It would take another 13 precious minutes before the Leopards were to find the back of the cage with a Van der Geest strike coming from a penalty corner. Freshman Mary Gould was the inserter and earned the assist combined with Jenn DeLongis as helper. Haily Abbot spent the second half in the cage substituting for Sarah Park.

There was no apparent reason for the second half turn around except that the Leopards were able to get to the attacking circle and a tougher scrabbling defense. There were still many scoring opportunities unfinished. As the season progresses and if the Leopards can replicate this second half effort they could be quite dangerous. I believe in the ability of this team and once they find their true personality, they can evolve into an exciting field hockey squad.

In the meantime it’s off to William and Mary for a Sunday match at 12. William and Mary lost to  Old Dominion tonight as Old Dominion put on a second half surge in a come from behind win 4-3 in overtime after William and Mary tied the game with no time left on the clock in regular time. Old Dominion scored 5 minutes into the overtime.

This leaves both William and Mary and Lafayette at 0-2 looking for their first. win.