By William Meija
Taylor Bellmon is a former York College student-athlete who played in the forward position for the York women’s soccer team. She has won a few awards during her career, including the 2021 CUNYAC Women’s Rookie Of The Year, 2021 CUNYAC Women’s Soccer All-Star and The 2021 CUNYAC Women’s Soccer Sportsmanship award.
Bellmon has recently felt mentally healthy as she prides herself on keeping calm through the bad times. However, despite her successful collegiate career and having the strength to keep herself calm and positive, she had gone through dark times in the past and struggled with her mental health.
Back in 2019, she suffered a concussion. This led to her not competing in games. As a result of suffering a concussion, her mental health declined.
“It became difficult for me to focus on my classes,” Bellmon said. “I remember being extremely unhappy with the circumstances I was dealing with and not being able to participate in something I loved. It made me sad and impatient for anything or anyone.” Bellmon added.
These mental struggles led her to find ways to cope with what she was going through. Bellmon said she realized adapting to the new reality she was living in was the way forward.
“I tried to put more focus on staying strong. But, unfortunately, I didn’t have many options for distraction due to symptoms,” said Bellmon.
Bellmon praised her girlfriend for always being there for her and being an important part of her recovery. “I chose her because we have that relationship of comfort with each other, and we let each other know that we can come together and talk about anything.”
Taylor Bellmon wasn’t the only former York College student-athlete that faced mental struggles. Kiara Gonzalez said she went through an overwhelming and stressful time during her collegiate career.
“I was overwhelmed with school, work, and athletics,” said Gonzalez. “Being stuck at home during COVID, I realized I was overworking myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. However, I was trying my best to balance things out.” Gonzalez continued.
According to her, she could cope during her rough times by writing her thoughts down and spending time with her pets. “What helped was writing my thoughts down and my cat and dog. I consider my pets as emotional support animals.”
Mental health struggles among student-athletes have doubled since the COVID pandemic, with indicated rates of exhaustion, anxiety, and depression, according to an NCAA article.
“The mental struggles are different at every level,” says Amy O’Connor, former head athletic trainer at York Athletics. “Athletics gives students structure that may not have outside, but it also challenges them in a way mentally that they haven’t been before,” O’Connor added. “I think the NCAA pays attention to other areas; I don’t think mental health is a top priority for them even though it should be.”
Since York College student-athletes compete in division III, they need more access or resources in sports psychology compared to division I or division II colleges. “It should be a collegiate responsibility; we have to be responsible for our own hiring of medical professionals to address areas.”