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Rally Together with Coach Brigitte Greywater

Brigitte Greywater, Head Volleyball Coach at Valley City State University, shares excellent insight on Mental Health in today's Rally Together daily blog: 

Volleyball, The Unknown and Mental Health

Brigitte Greywater
April 21, 2020
Valley City State University
Head Volleyball Coach

As I write to you today, recognize I have been serving in a counselor role for the past eight years as well as head college volleyball coach. I just recently had the opportunity to change direction a little bit to only serve as a head college volleyball coach. That being said, mental health is important, and we should never “push it aside”.

Mental health should always be a priority; however, without our outlet of volleyball it may be haunting us more than ever. Volleyball is our positive coping mechanism. Volleyball was there on the bad days to distract us from emotional pain. And now, we were forced to take a break. It is not gone forever, but we need to figure out what we are going to do without it for awhile. This is the ultimate time to find out how we handle adversity. Volleyball has taught us how to handle adversity. As I write, we will recognize what volleyball has taught us so that we can recognize what we need to do if our mental health takes a toll during this time. Here are seven things volleyball as taught us (I am sure there are many more), but let’s address these regarding mental health:

There is no “I” in team. You were not alone in winning a match, and you are not alone in your fight for your well-being. It is okay to ask for help. Leaps and strides are being made with telehealth medicine right now. There are people available to talk to from your cell phone or a hotline. Talking with family and friends to start the process is okay, but sometimes you need to take the additional step and reach out to a person who specializes in mental health. (I would not go to a cardiologist if I was recently diagnosed with cancer).

The only side of the court you can control is your own. Otherwise known as, controlling the controllables. We can control our serve. We can control our effort. We can control our attitude. The same is true with our mental health. We can control our choice to make a change. We can keep going down the path that causes us anxiety and depression or we can choose to make a change to combat our mental health.

Confidence is key. It is not a coach’s job to build your confidence – this is something I state to athletes often. You must have some confidence internally for you to be successful. The same falls true with how you handle adverse situations. You need to have faith. Faith in something bigger than yourself. Faith there is a purpose to your life. When I speak about faith, it does not have to be religion based, it can be spiritual or universal. Knowing there is a plan bigger than you and trusting the process is key. Remember what the game of volleyball has taught you to believe yourself and outcomes outside of your control.  “The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying” – John C. Maxwell

Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. This means, you have to consistently do things in order to build positive coping mechanisms. Structure to each day. Each day may not be the same, but you create a plan each day of what you want to accomplish. Set some things into your routine. Example: sleep 8 hours a night, get up at the same time each day, eat three meals a day, homework, personal interactions via technology, cardio/strength workouts, volleyball at home workouts, etc. 

Negative thoughts = Negative results. If you think you are going to shank a ball, you are going to shank a ball. Your thoughts (self-talk) will dictate your abilities. If you are only in search of a specific job, you might miss several amazing job opportunities. If you only think negatively, you will only find negative in your life. We must find ways to find the positive, be grateful and choose a hard right > easy wrong. Stop comparing yourself to others. Although hard especially in times like these, forget social media, forget your cell phone for awhile. Detach from technology and focus on you. You will only find yourself when you stop trying to be someone else. Find ways to be grateful each day.

Never stop working your hardest. Max effort each point, every point in volleyball can be the difference between winning or losing a huge momentum point. There is no script written where you stop working hard on mental health and everything turns out okay. Hard work on your mental health each day will result in a better tomorrow. You may not see it or feel it each day, but it will allow you to get through each day and that alone is a success.

Embrace your success. Every person’s success is measured in a different way. We have to approach volleyball with a growth mindset. Early on in your career you may have struggled serving overhand. You worked on it and you got closer and closer. You celebrated each time you got the ball closer to your goal. You cheered, you had an awesome conversation in your head, you smiled. Somedays when mental health is taking a toll, you may struggle getting out of bed – I know I have. If you got up and showered, celebrate it. But remember, always try and get a little further each day. And when you do something your proud of, it’s okay to say “hell yeah, I did it.”

Here are some resources for mental health. These resources will also be helpful in finding local resources as well.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.

You can also call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need.

Professional and Personal Self-Care






*you can search any of these items on the internet and find more on the topics

Labonite, Jackie. (2016). 7 Things Volleyball Has Taught Me: It is more than just a sport. The Odyssey.


Nissa Johnson – current Valley City State University volleyball player

Dr. Erin Klingenberg, Valley City State University Director of Counseling

Carla Freschette, Graphic Artist, Lake Region Club Volleyball Coach


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