Maggie Vaults Over the Moon

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Sport Psychologist Helps Vaulters and Coaches Cope with COVID-19 Shutdown

Sport psychologist ‘Doctor Coach’ Melissa White helps athletes achieve their goals on the runway and in life. She created a video for pole-vault coaches with suggestions on how to help athletes cope with closed runways and broken dreams. (Photo by Megan Zeller/Mile Split)

GREENSBURG, PA. — It’s been a heartbreaking spring for athletes whose sports seasons were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a pole-vault coach with a doctorate in sport psychology has a prescription to help cope with the ongoing crisis.

“Doctor Coach” Melissa White has been making virtual “house calls” to help athletes process their grief and prepare for whatever comes next. Her Performance Edge Consulting practice helps athletes overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, even in a time of historic hardship and uncertainty.

“Anything you can say that can keep your athletes focused and mentally ready for the sport and looking forward to it is going to be the best option for them,” Dr. White says.

When she’s not teaching 6th Grade English at Wendover Middle School, White is the high school and middle school pole-vault and javelin coach at Hempfield Area High School in the Pittsburgh Metro Area in Western Pennsylvania. She also spent this past fall as the mental performance coach for the school’s varsity football team.

White recently posted a video specifically for pole-vault coaches with suggestions on how to help athletes cope with closed runways and broken dreams. The video is free to watch by following this link.

“Our athletes rely on us and depend on us during every training session, practice session and every competition and we need to there for them at this time.” (Photos by Derrick Cleveland)

“We’re dealing with a crazy, unprecedented situation right now,” says White. “There are no books, no guidelines, no articles on how to deal with sport during a worldwide pandemic. We’re all trying to figure this out as we go along. I’ve had a lot of coaches and athletes reach out the me. And I thought I’d share some of what I’ve shared with them with you.

“One of the things that coaches have asked me is, ‘What should I should say to my athletes? I’m just unsure how to approach the situation.’ Several of the coaches have said, ‘I’ve said nothing. I didn’t want to share the wrong thing.’ That’s not the right answer.”

Since the pandemic shut-down, White has met with senior athletes who lost their seasons through virtual online meetings. Each of them have issues to cope with, depending on how committed they were to their sport, and what their future holds once things get back to normal-ish. Continue reading