Curry aims to help student-athletes see beyond their performances
Fort Lewis College Athletics created a position this year to support its student-athletes: a wellness coach.
Regina Curry began working with Fort Lewis last year in the counseling office and said most of her workload was with student-athletes. In her new position as athletics wellness coach, she’ll continue to work with student-athletes but will be more accessible.
“I was on the other side of the campus, but we really wanted to make it easy for them,” she said. Her new office, where she leaves the door open for students and coaches when she’s not meeting with a client, is in the athletics building.
While wellness coaches are common at Division 1 universities, Curry said they’re almost unheard of at Division 2 schools.
“Student-athlete and staff health and wellness will always remain at the forefront of our department,” said athletic director Travis Whipple. “We want to be innovative in our approach to continue delivering an excellent experience for all involved. Our mission is graduating champions for life, and this position plays a key role in ensuring our student-athletes are prepared for their future. “
Wellness differs from counseling is several ways. Counseling and therapy focus on traumas and use introspection and analysis to help resolve past issues to create a happier, more stable future. Wellness coaches work to clarify goals and identify obstacles and problematic behaviors to create action plans to achieve desired results.
Curry said counselors will delve more deeply with athletes into their problems, and she will work on goal-oriented outcomes with students and coaches.
“What’s not working today, so we can have a better tomorrow?” she said.
Curry said some issues athletes deal with include anxiety, performance anxiety, perfection and impostor syndrome.
“The thing about athletes is the thing that makes them great is also the thing that makes them not so great,” she said. “They tend to be so hard on themselves … it comes down to a lack of self-compassion.”
She said some recruits were the best athletes at their high schools, but they might struggle when they sit on the bench at Fort Lewis.
“It’s a really big transition, and I help them normalize all of that,” Curry said. “It’s saying, ‘Hey, I felt that way too.’ I give them a safe place to struggle. We all struggle; it’s ok. Struggle is a part of life. “
She said she wants to help the student-athletes see themselves beyond what they do on the field.
Curry is a former student-athlete herself. She ran cross-country and track and cheered for Cornell University.
“It doesn’t matter the sport, the themes are all the same: relentless commitment to sport, dealing with underperformance and dealing with injuries,” she said.
Curry said she meets with every team to offer her services. She also meets with each incoming freshman and transfer student as well as the teams’ coaches.
“I let them know what I provide and that I can be a conduit to other resources,” Curry said. “You have to make it easy.”
She helps coaches strategize how to talk with their teams so their messages are supportive and high level.
So far, she said, the response to the new position has been “awesome.”
“Coaches are referring athletes to me, and the trainers are glad to have me,” Curry said. “The mental health part scares people. I’ve been doing this almost 20 years, and I love it. I’ve been through it all at this point, and I’m not afraid of things. “
“Regina has been an excellent addition to our team and serves on our senior staff for the department,” Whipple said. “She brings a wealth of professional experience and has spent time as a highly successful student-athlete. Regina continues to enhance our professional development, health, wellness, and other offerings, which advance our department. “