ECC student-athletes and coaches share their experiences in dealing with anxiety


Kristen Flojo

At the Spartan Events Center, many of the ECC women's basketball players find a place to quiet down their thoughts

Arturo Chuatz, Staff Writer

Your palms are sweaty, you’re breathing heavy and upon you is a feeling of nervousness. Beyond feeling a level of discomfort, you feel anxious. You are not alone. Various Elgin Community College student-athletes and coaches share your grief, too.

According to The Mayo Clinic, one of the nation’s premiere outlets for medical research, dealing with anxiety is part of everyday life. We all deal with it. Although, “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations,” according to the clinic.

Yet, despite the intensity that arises from anxiety disorders, not all forms of anxiety are classified as a disorder. Some are momentary instances of discomfort or concern. Some come before a big test or presentation, and others come as a result of things we feel are out of our control. To several of our ECC student-athletes and coaches, those instances come and go.  

To Richard Ceh, Head Coach of the women’s soccer team, one of the greatest concerns for him, beyond the team’s collective performance on the field, is his player’s performance in the classroom.

“One area of anxiety I’ll get is when my players aren’t doing well in school,” Ceh said. “My number one job is to help our team graduate. Soccer comes after that!”

To help his athletes cope with their anxieties, he continually invites his athletes to reach out to him in times of need.

“I have an open door policy,” Ceh said. “My players are always welcome to text, call or talk in person about anything that is troubling them.”

Throughout the course of his career, Ceh has learned to remain calm in moments of obvious pressure. One way he’s been able to do this, which he ultimately passes on to his players, is his way of viewing problems.

Each training or game, we talk through areas we need improvement, and we solve them collectively,” Ceh said. “I mention that short term setbacks are part of growth and that we should learn from the mistakes, not dwell on them.”

ECC being an educative institution primarily and a sporting institution secondarily, puts great focus on the academic performance of its students, with its student-athletes serving no exception. To Gerald McLaughlin, Head Coach of the women’s basketball team, seeing his athletes succeed academically is what deals the greatest bit of anxiety.

“As a coach, my anxiety for our team is that our student-athletes are going to class, getting good grades, show up on time for practice and games and try to play hard in practice and games,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin also highlights the importance of building a community, which stems from having his athletes communicate with one another.  

“Also, [I hope] that all of the team members get along with each other on and off the floor and represent our team in a first-class manner, in the classroom, on the floor and in the community,” McLaughlin said.

Conversely, when asking members of the women’s basketball team questions surrounding anxiety and their methods of approaching the issue, the answers varied. With nine members of the team responding to a set of four questions anonymously, six athletes considered themselves being anxious individuals, with the remaining three indicating otherwise.

Interestingly, of the six athletes which thought of themselves as anxious individuals, only one considered anxiety to be the result of something within normal control. The remaining five athletes saw it as something outside of a normal scope of control, with one of the athletes specifically stating that “my mind will go on and on and I [am unable] to silence it.”