“That Kid”Posted: August 10, 2012
Aly Raisman, Gaby Douglas, Missy Franklin….
I watched them and so many more young, strong athletes from countries all over the world in the Olympics during these past two weeks. These teenage athletes have been perfecting their sport for years: practice, sacrifices, stress and pressure all leading up to their moment of glory at the Olympic Games.
Whether these teen athletes are going home with a medal or simply the thrill of participating in the Olympics, they were part of a handful of athletes that make it that far. The hundreds of thousands of athletes in high schools today may not all be Olympic caliber, but many of them certainly contribute their own share of sweat, commitment and sacrifice to their particular sport. They also experience incredible pressures from a myriad of sources be it coaches, parents, teachers and/or peers.
This past year I have worked with many teenage athletes seeking therapy. A teenage lacrosse player with panic attacks, an anxious softball player experimenting with drugs and alcohol and an anxious field hockey player whose grades are slipping.
Recently, a parent of a new client was describing his daughter to me. She played varsity soccer as a freshman, finished her freshman year with a 3.9 GPA and has many friends and an intact family. He said “she’s ‘That Kid’.” I had the privilege of meeting “That Kid” at our first therapy session shortly after that initial phone call inquiry. She is beautiful, polite, kind and sad, very sad. She said she doesn’t know who her friends are, feels a tremendous amount of pressure to perform on the field and feels very lonely.
All of “Those Kids” experience a lot of pressure. They are usually adorable, kind, smart and talented. Teachers and coaches all love them. All of my athlete clients have shared similar stories; pressure to make the team happy, fear of letting down the coach, needing to keep their grades up and make their parents happy.