ESPN journalist Kate Fagan talks mental health with New Paltz student athletes

SUNY New Paltz invited Kate Fagan to campus this fall to speak with students about her recent book, “What Made Maddy Run,” which considers the case of a college track star who used a fun social media persona to conceal her struggles with depression.

“I was pleasantly surprised that this community and athletics department were already having these conversations,” Fagan said. “I always want to kind of be like a mirror and try to be present to share my own experience in what I hope is a really open way. I try to come in and be really transparent, which allows them to be present to what their own experiences have been as a student-athlete, and perhaps just feel less alone.”

That was surprising, because I would lean toward more than 50 percent of athletics departments, kids only want to talk about things in private.”

Fagan, a sports reporter and commentator at ESPN and a regular guest on popular shows like “Around the horn” and “First Take,” spoke with New Paltz students about her own experiences as a student athlete, and the many obstacles that prevent athletes from speaking publically and openly about mental health.

The Department of Athletics, Wellness and Recreation organized Fagan’s visit to campus as part of a broader effort to engender a supportive community for athletes at the College.

The Department is preparing to debut a new initiative, Athletes Together, designed to create an organized and discrete support network for athletes to rely on during their time at New Paltz.

“Before Athletes Together it was never really a conversation about mental health, especially within our department,” said Taylor LaFrance ’19 (Accounting), a captain on the Hawks softball team. “Everyone has a story, everyone has a background and nobody’s life is perfect. We’re still trying to figure out how to get athletes to come out and start talking about it. Having Kate here who went through it and wrote a book about it and just how cool she is, I think more people will start feeling comfortable.”

Adapted from a story by Athletics Communication Director Monica D’Ippolito. Read full text here.