Finding air

I sit here tonight writing what is to be my very first blog acquainted with my very own (but not my first) private practice in sport psychology. Although I’ve been working with a hand full of clients on my own for the last 7 months (yes, through COVID… thank you Telehealth and Internet) and I have established social media that resides untouched until now, tonight I FINALLY launched my website. And I am STOKED (but also super nervous) to share this with the Earth.

You get this weird feeling, very similar to anxiety – although I wish I had a better word for it in this context (let’s call it nervous and excited… or nervouscited?) – sharing your ideas and your passions on a platform big enough with the potential for all to see. It’s like taking all your gut feelings and pasting them front and center on a bright neon shirt and tattooing on your forehead “I AM EXPOSED,” and then someone snapping a picture or taking a video of you looking like that and airing it on every local news channel across the country, but deeper. In a good way.

I had a very real and very genuine conversation with a co-worker tonight – ya gurl also provides recreational therapy in a residential facility for kiddos with mental/ behavioral health issues and severe histories of trauma, in addition to working overnights PRN at an in-patient children’s psychiatric facility… I prefer to face debt head on and attack it with intensity so I can live my life to the fullest sooner rather than later… and also I just truly enjoy working with these kids  ❤

But okay seriously back to what I was saying – I sat down with this person whom I do not even know on any level other than they work in the same facility that I do, and poured my heart out about my truest intentions for my business. My vision, if you must.

Seems pretty standard for every company to share their mission, vision, and values, right? It just feels so much bigger when your identity and what you stand for, who you care for, how you’ve grown professionally and personally aligns so closely with your very own company’s mission, vision, and values.

Sport psychology is so many things to me. Early on in high school, sport psychology was how I aligned my identification as an athlete and my absolute love for sport itself with my academic interests in a way that spit out an actual, feasible, identifiable career as an outcome. Early in college, sport psychology became the solution to my doubts, worries, and fears as an athlete. It was how I overcame 6 surgeries in 5 years and still finished my career. It was how I managed my personal struggles, relationship issues, and academic stresses in combination with my athletic aspirations. Learning and growing these mental skills resulted in greater resilience, in combination with the beautiful wealth of protective factors the Universe blessed me with. I knew this. I was thankful. I am grateful.

Jump to graduate school, where sport psychology became my graduate field of study. Working full-time at a facility filled to the brim with underprivileged youth with criminal charges from all the toughest, most impoverished areas of the country tucked into the southwest corner of rural Iowa. This is where the truth hit me. There is where I knew I needed to do work but I didn’t know how to make it happen. I was given the opportunity and privilege to know and try to understand so many kids in this setting, many of whom held unbelievable athletic ability and would go unnoticed by collegiate recruiters, and much of the world for that matter. Kids who barely had the skills and support to stay out of detention let alone pass high school classes and stay eligible to compete for team sports. 88% of which would “complete their program,” discharge from the facility, and reoffend either still as juveniles or more damagingly as adults. I wished I could stay there, dig my feet in, and begin my sport psychology career with those kids – but the timing was all wrong, and the support wasn’t there.

So I moved to Kansas City and found other ways to serve this population while getting my feet wet in the private practice setting. This was just a couple of years ago.

Fast forward to now, as we are experiencing the largest civil rights movement in history, in the middle of a pandemic. Nothing is normal, our faces covered by masks, vacant of the expression that allows us to connect, but protecting ourselves and the people we care about from respiratory disease. It’s ironic though, a little bit. Isn’t it? It’s hard to breathe with these masks on after a while. Some people are really upset about it to their core, protesting in the streets – denying the disease even exists. But is it harder to breathe wearing this mask than it is to breathe as an African American in America? I doubt it.

“I can’t breathe,” said George Floyd, Eric Garner, Javier Ambler, Manuel Ellis, Elijah McClain and over 70 others who have died in custody as a result of police brutality.

I have been actively working to serve unprivileged minority youth for the last 5 years in the residential and hospital setting. I advocate, educate, and speak out about these issues in my day to day life, I support everyone around me that I can reach – friends, family, and clients alike – in any way that I can, but it isn’t enough. I need to do more; we all need to do more.

Come full circle to my first full-time job working with “at-risk and delinquent youth,” …reflect on the inequalities and the intense need to provide these kids with services and it becomes obvious. The timing is right now. The support is everywhere.

The vision of Complete Phenom Enterprises, LLC in its rawest form is to support athletes growing up in underserved communities; to provide a safe space for these athletes to develop the skills to grow and be successful not only within their sport but within their lives; to guide young athletes into understanding the educational opportunities that their sport can provide them with and to build the confidence to pursue educational, athletic, and career goals that may have otherwise seemed unattainable in light of their circumstances.

I don’t have all the answers yet. I don’t have every step mapped out and I’m not totally sure how to make this happen. But I’m going to make this happen. This is where I get to do what I love and make a difference in our community. There is where I get to use my skills to help those struggling to breathe around me find air.

Photo by Ashley Landis/ USA TODAY sports.

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