How the demise of JMU catcher Lauren Bernett rocked faculty softball and prompted it to take motion on psychological well being

Lower than 24 hours earlier than his team’s greatest series of the season started, Patty Gasso retreated to a quiet room in her home and clicked to open a Zoom hyperlink.

She did not talk about technique with assistants or watch motion pictures of opponents.

She was a panelist on Mental Health in athletics.

Dubbed “Coaches + Psychological Well being: Creating Psychological Wellness Areas in Faculty Athletics,” Wednesday evening’s webinar was hosted by OU. It was facilitated by individuals from the psychological assets workplace of the athletic division.

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SEASON CANCELED: JMU softball team cancels remainder of season after Lauren Bernett’s death

However he was stimulated by Gasso.

“I used to be shaken”, the Softball OR mentioned the coach. “I used to be shaken, I assumed, ‘What if I used to be the coach on the opposite aspect? What can I do for this coach? Do they need assistance? Do they get assist? help ?

“There are only a lot of questions I’ve.”

James Madison late catcher Lauren Bernett is pictured during the NCAA Softball Super Regionals in Missouri on May 28, 2021.

James Madison late catcher Lauren Bernett is pictured through the NCAA Softball Tremendous Regionals in Missouri on Could 28, 2021.

Whereas many targeted on what was taking place contained in the traces at Marita Hynes Subject through the Bedlam Collection, many within the faculty softball world are targeted on what is occurring within the hearts and minds of gamers at throughout the nation. the suicide of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett modified the game. Final season, she was a part of the Dukes’ magical run to the Girls’s Faculty World Collection, catching for breakout star Odicci Alexanderhowever this season, Bernett had his personal breakout.

On Sunday, April 24, she completed a monster weekend, going 4-for-4 with a house run and two doubles within the collection finale in opposition to Drexel. She hit .778 and drove in seven runs within the three-game set.

On Monday, April 25, she was named Colonial Athletic Affiliation Participant of the Week.

On Tuesday, April 26, she was gone.

His final at bat was a house run.

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“Actually unhappy,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski mentioned earlier this week as tears welled up in his eyes. “It is unhappy as a result of it is change into utterly regular. That is the unhappy half.

Bernett is the third feminine Division I athlete to take her personal life in lower than two months. The primary was Stanford soccer goalkeeper Katie Meyer on March 1. And got here Wisconsin runner Sarah Shulze on April 13. Then Bernet.

Will she be the final?

We hope so, however sadly the proof suggests she most likely will not. Knowledge on campus suicides are arduous to come back by. Nevertheless, the Jed Basis, a nationwide non-profit group working to forestall suicides and enhance the emotional well being of younger individuals, reviews that psychological well being points have been on the rise amongst faculty college students over the previous 5 years. final years.

Faculty athletes usually are not immune.

A Liberty softball player wears a purple ribbon in her hair during a game against Tennessee on April 27 in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The ribbon is in honor of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett.

A Liberty softball participant wears a purple ribbon in her hair throughout a sport in opposition to Tennessee on April 27 in Lynchburg, Virginia. The ribbon is in honor of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett.

Frankly, their psychological well being points could also be exacerbated as a result of they’re athletes.

“I believe these student-athletes are pushed and rushed,” Gasso mentioned, “and so they have a whole lot of plates spinning and attempting to stability every part out.”

This was one thing Gasso knew earlier than the occasions of the previous few weeks, however following Bernett’s suicide, she requested OU psychologist Dolores Christensen to fulfill with the group. She led the Sooners in an exercise the place they broke into small teams and shared how they felt.

Subsequent, Christensen requested if any of the gamers needed to share with everybody.

A selected sentiment hit Gasso arduous.

“Generally I really feel like I am unable to breathe.”

This received Gasso excited about the day by day routine of his gamers. Get up. Apply. Have breakfast. Maybe. Go to class. To eat lunch. Maybe. Go to follow. Watch the video. Meet within the discipline. Practice for 3 hours. Go to a night class or do your homework.

“And it is simply time and again and time and again,” Gasso mentioned. “Even when they attempt to do every part proper, as coaches we expect we do too, that is the way you win.”

However as she listened to her gamers communicate throughout Christensen’s session with them, Gasso realized a realization.

That is not the way you win, she thought. “We have now to seek out higher methods of doing issues.”

Patty Gasso has been shaken by the suicide of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett.  The OU softball coach is trying to do everything she can to prevent another athlete from committing suicide, not just at OU but in all sports.

Patty Gasso has been shaken by the suicide of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett. The OU softball coach is attempting to do every part she will be able to to forestall one other athlete from committing suicide, not simply at OU however in all sports activities.

Final weekend, Gasso requested gamers to put in writing letters to their dad and mom and guardians, expressing what these adults imply to them. However because the Sooners made their last highway journey within the common season, Gasso additionally needed the seniors and tremendous seniors to have enjoyable.

“They’re taking part in video games, and so they’re laughing, and so they’re laughing so arduous that safety comes into the room,” Gasso mentioned.

She smiled.

“It was enjoyable watching them have enjoyable, unrelated to softball. They’ve enjoyable successful – they love successful – however it was enjoyable to see them having enjoyable in one other area. … It simply crammed my coronary heart, and I do know I have to do extra issues to make it extra humanized than robotic.

Gajewski additionally aspires to it. The Cowgirls coach has a 24/7 open door coverage.

“My cellphone is rarely off,” he mentioned.

However he does not anticipate gamers to contact him. Gajewski is proactive in interacting and speaking with gamers. Connecting along with his gamers is among the issues he loves most about teaching, so he all the time goes after them, as he calls it.

“I believe they get pissed off early on,” he mentioned. “After I assault you about your love life or your loved ones or your college or no matter, it is not me attempting to be in what you are promoting greater than you wish to be. I wish to know , when issues usually are not going properly, what does it seem like?”

Like Gasso, Gajewski lately requested one of many athletic division psychologists to talk to his group. Trevor Richardson reunited with the Cowgirls earlier this week after getting back from a Florida State highway journey.

His message?

“We’re not alone,” mentioned OSU outfielder Chyenne Issue. “Attain out to anybody.”

Private care can be essential.

Issue finds time to only sit on his sofa and decompress for some time every day through the season. OU second baseman Tiare Jennings drives lengthy drives along with her home windows down and her music on.

“I believe it is simply discovering pleasure within the little, little issues,” OSU ace Kelly Maxwell mentioned. “We do not have a whole lot of time all through the day…however we are able to rejoice the comfortable issues and the little issues.”

Typically it has nothing to do with softball.

Discover a good parking spot on campus.

Seeing your roommate washed the dishes.

However generally gamers get to the purpose the place even that does not transfer the needle. Their psychological well being is poor and their outlook is bleak. They want skilled assist. They require intervention.

It might be one thing a coach cannot present, however a coach can step in if he is aware of how.

That is why Gasso needed to do that webinar on Wednesday evening. Yeah, it has been an enormous week for her and her Sooners. In fact, she may have left these issues to a different coach or one other time.

However she felt referred to as to behave.

“This can be very heartbreaking and alarming to see what is occurring throughout the nation,” she mentioned. “It is simply screaming for assist.”

Gasso hopes she is doing all she will be able to to reply.

We have now to hope that everybody in athletics shall be.

In the event you or somebody you realize is combating suicidal ideas, you’ll be able to name the US Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of the day or evening. Disaster Textual content Line additionally offers free confidential 24/7 assist by way of textual content message to individuals in disaster after they dial 741741.

This text initially appeared on Oklahoman: Lauren Bernett’s suicide calls on the softball world to take action on mental health

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