This biweekly column features life lessons and fresh perspectives on local sports from The Sports Report’s Calli Newberry.
I was lying on my back when the ultrasound technician asked if I needed help sitting up.
I looked at her with a sheepish smile and said, “Yes please.” She smiled back, extended her hand, and gave me a boost.
Less than two years ago I was running 30 miles a week and earning all-conference honors as a college athlete. Now, I can’t even sit up on my own. I felt pretty helpless and a little embarrassed.
Fortunately, I’m still in good shape and perfectly healthy, but at 37 weeks pregnant, I’ve realized how many simple things I took for granted, like being able to put on shoes and socks or sit up without thinking twice.
They say a baby changes everything and I don’t doubt that one bit. She’s not even here yet and so much has changed. It’s been quite the journey so far, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of not only asking for help, but also accepting it.
As athletes, I think a lot of times we’re trained to be tough. We practice and compete through injury and act like everything is fine. We don’t want to take a break or let down our teams, so we just fight through whatever physical – and even mental or emotional – barrier stands in our way.
Yes, there’s something honorable about overcoming obstacles and being strong. And yes, I don’t think athletes should make excuses or give up. But sometimes, we just need help.
I’ve had to admit there are some things I can’t do on my own anymore, and it’s not that I won’t be able to do them again in the future, it’s just that right now, my body is trying to do a lot of other things.
And if I were to try to carry on as if everything was normal, like prioritizing work over sleep or exercising as usual, I could jeopardize my health and the health of my baby.
The same is true for athletes who are putting their minds and bodies through hard workouts and tough competitions every day – on top of managing relationships, school, and everything else in their lives.
A 2022 survey conducted by the NCAA found that "69% of women's sports participants and 63% of men's sports participants agreed or strongly agreed that they know where to go on campus if they have mental health concerns."
Yet less than half of them actually feel comfortable seeking that support. And I'm sure younger athletes feel similarly.
Pride or fear of falling behind keeps us from admitting when we're struggling. It's tempting to act like everything is fine and going well because we don't want to seem weaker than others or burden them with our needs.
But sometimes life gets hard and we just can't physically or mentally handle everything we want to. When that happens, asking for help is the best thing you can do.
And let's be honest, we were never meant to handle everything on our own all the time anyway. We need coaches, teammates, trainers, families, and friends who will support us along the way in whatever we're doing.
Taking a rest could turn a season-ending injury into a two-week pause. Asking for clarification when you don’t understand something could save you wasted time trying to figure it out on your own. And seeking help when you’re struggling mentally won’t just help you in your sport, but in every other area of your life as well.
The next time someone extends a helping hand, don't be afraid to accept it. You don't have to do everything on your own.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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