On March 30, 2016, the Florida State Athletes Department welcomed Ross Szabo, the third in a series of speakers the Seminole student-athletes have had the opportunity to meet this semester. This spring the speakers have covered topics ranging from working hard to dealing with stress and mental health issues.
Szabo spoke about something that every student faces at some point during their college career – stress. Szabo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 16. After several years of putting on a ‘good face’ and attempting to mask the disorder, Szabo attempted to take his own life, convinced he could never fit in with ‘normal’ students his age.
According to Szabo, mental health challenges are the largest problems schools face, with a quarter of students facing some sort of mental health disorder. Szabo emphasized to the student-athletes the importance of speaking out and expressing these issues, and the importance of empowering fellow students to maintain positive mental health.
In January, students heard the story of Inky Johnson, a former University of Tennessee safety turned motivational speaker. Following a life-threatening injury, Johnson was left with a paralyzed right arm and a shattered football career. Johnson spoke about pushing past his underprivileged past and powering through his dreams that were seemingly crushed by his injury. He went on to earn a master’s degree in sports psychology and now mentors student-athletes and underprivileged youth. He spoke to Florida State about perseverance in the face of difficulty and the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.
February saw the appearance of former Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets basketball player Chris Herren. While Herren dominated on the court, he struggled with substance abuse during his career as a basketball player. His sobriety has inspired him to share his story with student-athletes across the nation, hoping to leave a lasting impact he thinks will keep today’s student-athletes from falling down the same dark road toward substance abuse. Herren emphasized that every person is in control of their choices. “The path you take is up to you. Make good choices, dream big! It is never too late.”