Focused/ Motivated /Success-oriented/

Physically and mentally strong/ Under constant pressure/ Striving for balance


As a high school or college athlete, you are expected to excel in your sport, academics, family life and social life. Often as an athlete, everyone around you thinks you are "a great kid" and leaves little room for error. The pressure to be the best at everything you do can feel overwhelming.  Sometimes all you want is to be a "normal teenager." You want to go to your high school prom, but it conflicts with the state track meet. You want to hang out with your friends after school, but you have to go to practice. And then because you practiced until dinner time, you have to do homework (since you are in advanced classes you have excessive homework each night). You even have practice and competitions on the weekends. When do you get to live your own life? As your relationships and mood start to suffer, you are afraid to reach out for help because your coaches might think you are weak or unable to compete. Your performance is starting to suffer and even worse, your love for the game is diminishing. You don't need to give up your sport or your happiness. You can enjoy sports and life with a little bit of help from a counselor. Learning how to balance your competitive life with your family and social life will lead to improved performance and life experiences.  Asking for help does not mean you are weak; on the contrary, it shows a level of strength that few possess. 



Athletes often need help with:

Transition to new levels of competitiveness

Balance athletics and personal goals

Balance athletics and relationships

Maintain your identity

This weekend we learned of a terrible tragedy involving a hockey team in Canada. Fifteen of the players and coaches were killed in a bus accident on their way to a playoff game. If you watched the story on the news it is almost impossible to miss the impact this loss had on the entire community.

To me, this is the epitome of sports. Sports create and maintain community bonding and spirit. Sports create families outside of the home. Sports tend to bring people together both in times of triumph and dismay.

At a time like this, I think of the impact a tragedy like this could have on all teams in all sports. It reminds me to hang on tight to our teammates, families, friends and loved ones. Cherish every moment. But also, be thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of something greater than yourself.

May they all rest in peace.

As a former athlete and coach I have experienced and witnessed many transitions through various levels of participation ranging from recreational to elite competitive at the youth, high school, collegiate, national and international levels.

I have seen first hand how our identities can become tied up in our sport, regardless of our level of participation. Without healthy life balance as we transition through life and sport, it becomes way too easy to lose ourselves in our sport. It is imperative that we maintain this healthy balance in body and mind as we strive towards all of our life goals. My aim is to assist you in transitioning into new stages of sport while preserving yourself and your relationships outside of sport. This is possible through unconditional positive regard, empathic listening and psychoeducation surrounding your body and your mind as they work collaboratively to enhance your overall wellness.

Los Gatos Counseling Center

Debra Pace, Director

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, #101506

Offices in Los Gatos and Downtown Monterey

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