Josh Gibson

Pleasant Grove head coach Josh Gibson.

TEXARKANA, Texas - In an effort to avoid spreading COVID-19, schools and athletic programs have to isolate themselves from friends and teammates.

While that’s done to help flatten the curve, Pleasant Grove football head coach Josh Gibson says his wife, who’s a teacher at the school, sees some of the unintended consequences.

"Kids turned in papers to her and there was probably three or four, they were saying they were going through a depression," Gibson explains. "One girl said she felt physically ill."

Licensed professional counselor supervisor, Ariel Ferguson, says those feelings can apply for athletes as well.

"Athletes are especially susceptible because they aren't getting to practice with their teams anymore and a lot of a person's self-worth and identity is built into athletics if that's something that they are passionate about." Ferguson states.

National Academy of Sports Medicine certified trainer, James Washington, recommends something athletes and everyday people can do to help themselves mentally.

"Meditate. Usually I like to wake up about 30 minutes earlier and what you do is just kind of spend 15 to 20 minutes just deep breathing, eyes closed, clearing your brain because I do know this is a stressful time for a lot of people," Washington says.

In addition to things that can be done alone, Gibson says he’s connecting to his athletes using technology.

"We were like, man, our kids, they need interaction with us and so we started a Zoom cast where we'll Zoom and get to see all of our faces up on a screen at one time."

He adds that coaches will send videos via YouTube that offer tips to help kids structure their day and others that make them laugh.

"75 football players are getting a video everyday. Coaches will call them    each day and they (players) will call two to three of their teammates. So we're encouraging human interaction so that we can build relationships in a time where we're kind of confined and can't be around each other as much.

"Let's get creative and I think it's working really well."

Ferguson, who is also a board approved telemental health counselor recommends services like Talkspace or Therapeer if you're seeking mental health guidance.


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