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Madera saw an opportunity with RaiseMe to help reinforce college-going behavior among high schoolers, extend the woman and manpower of their already strong counseling staff, and expose students to a broader variety of college options — both in and out of state, public or private, 2- and 4-year. With the help of RaiseMe, Madera High educators have been able to instill in students a sense of confidence around the process of finding, paying for, and ultimately attending college. To date, Madera students have earned scholarships from more than 300 RaiseMe college partners for the great things they’re already doing in high school, whether that be earning a B or an A, participating in extracurriculars like 4-H, or showing up to take the PSAT. 

Said Vice Principal Bellomo, “RaiseMe is a one stop shop for students to present who they are, what they can do, and all that they’ve accomplished, so that colleges and universities will be able to know who they are, recognize them, and reward those efforts.”


We’re excited to highlight this incredible school’s journey with RaiseMe below! 

In their own words, Madera High educators have leveraged RaiseMe to: 

  • Reinforce college-going behavior. “Senior year [students are] so busy applying to college, doing FAFSA, and I really don’t think that they understand the cost and the expenses that are involved in higher education. So I think RaiseMe helps to tie it in. They start to realize in high school that they can get money for good grades, etc., to put toward their higher education. I love that it builds that connection, it makes it a reality, because I think a lot of times students are here, they’re going through school, but they’re not connecting that what I’m doing here and now is going to affect me.” — Counselor Julia Magallon 
  • Extend the power of their counseling staff. “So I think that RaiseMe just further helps us, starting in 9th grade, with getting students thinking, not only what do I have to do academically to get into college, but what do I have to do financially. We try to work the kids through the application process and they don’t tend to generally start applying until their junior or senior year. But in 9th grade if they start thinking about how to get there — It’s a combination of setting up financial aid in the right way, looking at different scholarship opportunities, making sure my grades are on point, showing that I have community service, that I’m taking challenging content throughout the years, it’s just a piece of that bigger puzzle to help our kids start thinking very early on about where they want to go.” — Vice Principal Orlando Bellomo 
  • Expose students to a breadth of options. “Our students tend to stay local, but with the RaiseMe program and the partnerships that are built, universities that maybe are not local, that definitely offers a student other opportunities.” — Counselor Julia Magallon

Pathways to College

AJ Aug 21 '19 · Tags: blog, resource, raiseme, pathway, college

Mindful Eating can be a valuable set of skills that can be brought into the athletic or sports performance context, offering both professionals and athletes alike with ways of exploring the food, eating and body experience with greater depth and insight. Athletes can be a different & diverse population, and mindful eating can provide a strong foundation of approaching nutrition from a place of respect, self care and active self reflection & inquiry. This webinar is suitable for Dietitians, Therapists or anyone interested in how Mindful Eating can be applied in different groups of people.

AJ Aug 13 '19 · Tags: mindful, eating, athletes, sports, food, body

Madison Holleran was a star freshman track athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. She seemingly had it all. On the night of January 17, 2014, Madison leapt over the ninth-floor railing of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia, taking her own life, and leaving friends and family with more questions than answers. 

In a similarly tragic event, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide in January 2018, succumbing to self-inflicted gunshot wounds. There was no indication to family or friends that Tyler was struggling, and his family later indicated that autopsy results showed he had the degenerative brain condition CTE.

The tragic stories of Madison and Tyler reveal the prevalence of anxiety and depression faced by many of today’s elite athletes, and it is important to understand that even the most accomplished and successful athletes are not immune from these conditions. Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympic athlete of all time, indicated in the spring of 2018 on a popular podcast that he had been severely depressed at times over his career, and even contemplated suicide after the 2012 Olympic games. 

[NOTE: Mental health issues can be serious and should be diagnosed and treated only by a licensed mental health practitioner. If you have concerns or questions about your own mental health, please seek out a licensed mental health professional.)

What Are the Causes?

There are many challenging dynamics involved in playing competitive sports in today’s fast-paced, high-stakes, outcome-based, social media world. Athletes are increasingly feeling the pressure of all of these external stressors, while their intrinsic “love of the game” is being diminished by the expectations of others.  

In my experience, there are six overarching themes in the buildup to athlete mental health challenges:

1. PerfectionismIt is admirable to want to do everything right all the time. But for human beings, it's not realistic and can lead to problems, including:

a. Overtraining, which over time will lead to injuries.

b. Inability to transfer practice or training success to competitionbecause of too-high expectations, which leads to decreased performance.

c. Feeling worthless and like a failure if any mistakes are made, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

2. Fear of Failure: This is primarily the result of athletes feeling that they are “not enough” in the eyes of others. These “others” could be their parents, coaches, teammates, fans, the media or general population. Sports competition is on display for everyone to see.

3. Injuries: The experience and aftermath of athletic injuries can be very daunting for athletes who obviously rely on their physical abilities to perform. The arduous process of rehabilitation—wondering if you will ever again “feel back to normal,” then returning to play—and the fear of reinjury can create a great deal of stress.  

4. Lifestyle: Lack of self-care can be a major obstacle for an athlete. Athletes should be proactive about managing their environment and surroundings—and be vigilant about proper sleep, nutrition, recovery from previous activity, balancing commitments and social connections.

5. Managing Change/Transition: To be a successful athlete over time, you must navigate changes in your lifestyle, location, environment, and social surroundings. An example could be a successful high school athlete who transitions to college on an athletic scholarship only to realize that they are in a new place—with higher expectations—and are starting at the bottom of the depth chart.

6. Fear of Success: Although counter-intuitive, and less likely than some of these other factors, the fear of success is real. Some athletes fear the responsibilities and commitments that come with being successful. An athlete in this category may not want to be in the spotlight or to take up the mantle of being a role model, or may not want the commitment of additional training or expenses that go with success. 

As mental health continues to be an important issue for athletes, the following 12 coping tips can help:

12 Effective Coping Tips

  1. Seek help: The first obvious thing to do is to seek help from a licensed professional. Many sports organizations and institutions offer counselingservices.
  2. Avoid substance abuse: Do not use alcohol or drugs to cope with your issues.
  3. Develop social support: Meet new people who are positive and fun, be proactive in who you surround yourself with, and seek the support of others.
  4. Create awareness: Be in the present; don’t focus on the past or future. Be grateful for the here and now.
  5. Engage your creative side by writing, art, meditating, breathing, yoga, music, massage, and other relaxation techniques.
  6. Recreation: Get outside and relax with an activity that is different from your sport.
  7. Sleep: Lack of sleep causes many physical and mental issues.
  8. Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet and make sure you get enough nutrients for performance.
  9. HumorLaughter is the best medicine.
  10. Volunteer: Get outside of yourself and help others.  
  11. Realize that you can only control your thoughts, actions and efforts.
  12. Recognize your triggers: What causes your stress or anxiety? If you know what triggers your negative feelings, you can begin to develop skills to eliminate, replace or minimize them.
AJ Jul 31 '19 · Tags: health, sports, depression, track, football, anxiety
National Football League

In the NFL, five out of every 10 players fail to earn a college degree even though many of these players attended college for four to five years. This statistic simply shows that, while professional football players may have excelled on the football field, a small percentage of them did the same in the classroom, with only half holding college degrees. While this statistic is low, it is one of the higher percentages among other professional sports. This, in part, is due to the fact that the NFL does not have a viable minor league system. Rather, they recruit directly out of college, requiring most players to attend a college if they would like to play professionally.

Major League Baseball

Statistical reports show that major league baseball holds the lowest percentage of professional athletes with a college degree, at an estimated 4.3 percent, but the context of this percentage must be understood. This low percentage is a result of the fact that players can choose to enter into the professional draft at multiple points during their careers: after graduating high school, after any season of junior college, after their junior or senior season at a four-year college or after any season during which they are 21 years old. While football recruits its players directly from college, baseball has a minor league system through which young players can prepare for the major leagues without having attended college at all. Additionally, the minor leagues simply provide more teams, therefore more opportunities, for players to be drafted. This constant temptation to leave -- or avoid -- the collegiate realm has resulted in many players forgoing a degree for the opportunity to play professionally, at a young age.

National Basketball Association

The professional basketball community fields an estimated 21 percent of players with college degrees. The NBA mandates that players must be one year removed from high school, or 19 years of age, to enter the draft. This results in many players leaving college after their freshman year, or simply not entering college at all, to await the opportunity to play professionally. Like baseball, the NBA does not require collegiate experience to be drafted. That being said, basketball does not offer as many developmental opportunities as baseball, thereby implicitly encouraging players who are not recruited immediately out of high school to at least start a collegiate career. Though some professional athletes will return to college to complete their degrees, often that is simply an idea that never comes to fruition.


The most important implications are made when applying these percentages to the statistics of average career spans of professional athletes. The average NFL career span is between three and four years, while the average MLB career extends to close to six years. The NBA career averages about five years. In other words, many athletes end their professional careers before the age of 30, and without a college degree. This is one reason that professional athletes frequently struggle financially after retirement. While sports are a valuable outlet, be sure to examine the big picture. Value education and have a post-athletics career plan. Ultimately, while your body is only capable of keeping up with the big leagues for so long, education lasts a lifetime.

AJ Jun 21 '19 · Comments: 1 · Tags: blog, education, athletics