It’s Ok to Not Be Ok: Adjusting to Identity and Life Changes in the Adolescent Athlete/College Student

Amy Foster, Sports Medicine, Mallard Creek High School

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


Many high school athletes struggle as they transition into college. Their
constantly changing identities, fear of failure, leaving environments they dominated for more competitive spaces, and the ever looming fear of injury predominates the minds of many young athletes. These concerns, when left unaddressed, can cause student athletes to develop poor coping mechanisms (e.g., substance abuse, social withdrawal), depression, anxiety, and even commit suicide. Through activities, conversations and self-exploration, students in Sports Medicine will be equipped with the tools to understand why they and their peers struggle with the challenges posed by college and how to apply mindfulness techniques to develop a healthy mindset. Students that are taught this curriculum will cover topics such as working through changes in their identity, identifying titles versus roles that they play in life, how to address an athlete’s “fear of failure”, and how to apply mindfulness techniques to help overcome feeling overwhelmed and lost in their new phase of life. The goal of this unit is to allow student-athletes the opportunity to realize that they are not alone in their struggles and that they are fully capable, with the appropriate tools, of navigating new landscapes successfully. Although the unit was written for student-athletes, it can easily be adapted for teachers who work largely with juniors and seniors.