Let’s Talk About Something Else


Her name was Katie Meyer. She was 22-years old, championship winning soccer goalie at Stanford University. About a month ago, Meyer committed suicide in her dorm room. The reason? No one will ever know for sure but her parents have said that anxiety over a “potential disciplinary action by the university” may have contributed to her suicide. 

Now of course, everyone would like to know what this disciplinary action was about. But in the meantime, this suicide by a 22-year-old student-athlete who attended one of the best universities in the country shines a light on something else, something bigger: the mental health of students and in particular student-athletes.

It made me wonder how many more student-athletes out there are struggling mentally. Most of them go unnoticed and I get it. Opening up about it is tough, and I think most student-athletes don’t because they believe they cannot complain about the life they are living. Being a student-athlete sounds great and it makes the college experience so much more special. Some may call it a privilege. As a student-athlete myself, I can say that it is indeed special. But there are times that it really is not as amazing as it seems and I am sure many others will agree.

I can say that there are times I have to drag myself to practice, or that I do not want to be in the gym two hours before a game to get ready and set up the court. I think that not everyone really realizes how much of a commitment the student-athlete life is. It is time-consuming and it asks for a lot of energy. It is exhausting, and not only physically. It can be mentally challenging as well. 

I know athletes who have trouble organizing their day when it consists of practice, a film session with the team to analyze their previous games, multiple classes, and homework. I know athletes who are not really sure whether the fact they will be playing over 50(!) games in a total of three months is either something amazing or something frightening. I know athletes who break down after a poor practice because they feel like they have too much on their plate. 

Let’s not forget that I play at a small Division-II college. Playing on the Division I level is different. It comes with thousands of fans, traveling by plane for out-of-the-country tournaments, and top-notch sports facilities. Sounds fun and all in theory, but participating in Division I sports asks for a specific mentality. 

Division I student-athletes tend to miss way more classes than Division II student-athletes since they have more travel and time commitment. Therefore, there is less time to focus on academics and if you do not do well in class, chances are you do not get to play. Playing for thousands of fans can be absolutely thrilling but it makes many of us really nervous as well. The thought of having to perform perfectly in class and during games and practices all the time is always there.

That thought can take its toll and sadly enough, it did on Katie Meyer. 

Playing the sport you love should be an outlet. It should be something one can enjoy and use as a distraction, not something that feels like a 9-5 job. Practice functions as meditation. It is the time where one can forget about everything else and focus on what one likes doing most. The gym, the court, the field, the turf – it is where you can have fun with your teammates and share your passion. 

Let Katie Meyer’s death be an eye-opener to everyone. To players, to coaches, to physical trainers, to parents, to fans. On the outside, student-athlete life looks like an unforgettable experience and it definitely is. But there is so much going on behind the scenes and because everyone thinks they are living the perfect life but they do not think of the disadvantages it can have. 

That has to change. We have to stop looking at student-athletes like they are adults who have their life all figured out and can do everything on their own. We are just like any other young adult who has bad days, weeks, or even months and who needs help getting through college while playing sports.

Let Katie Meyer’s death not be a waste, Let’s learn from it.