The Charger Blog

‘I Hope We Can Come Together and Learn From One Another’s Experiences’

The coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges to student-athletes, and I wanted to find a way to bring them together, to help address mental health challenges, and to create an outlet for them to share their stories.

December 15, 2020

By Michael Calabrese ’21

Michael Calabrese ’21.
Michael Calabrese ’21.

This semester has presented many challenges to all students on campus, not only with online learning and within the classroom setting, but on a social level as well, as we are not able to have the same interactions with our peers and colleagues as we used to.

As I finish my final undergraduate year at the University of New Haven in the Pompea College of Business’s Fast Track Program, I have found myself reflecting on my past experiences. I have worked in our University’s Athletics Department, both as a manager for the women’s basketball team and as an administrative intern with associate athletic director, Jon Mays. In these positions, as well as in the classroom, I have been able to form wonderful relationships with our student-athletes.

I have also worked as a compliance intern in the Yale University Athletics Department, where I assisted with student-athlete services work. These opportunities sparked a passion in me to advocate for student-athletes on college campuses and to help them in any way that I possibly can.

This semester, I added something new to my plate by becoming involved with the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA). I was appointed the USGA senator to represent varsity athletics, meaning I am the advocate and representative for our student-athletes on campus. I found a way to combine my passion for assisting student-athletes with my desire to find new ways for students on campus to interact more.

The pandemic has hindered a lot of our “normal” ways of communicating. Recognizing this issue, I wanted to set up an initiative to help combat this and to foster conversations on our campus about mental health. I worked closely with the administration in our athletics department to help advance their “Mental Health Mondays” program that was launched last summer.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have held interviews with student-athletes over Zoom and recorded them to be posted on social media for others to benefit from. In my interviews with student-athletes, my goal is to have a conversation with them about how their semesters are going, how they are adjusting to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and to give them a break from the hectic atmosphere that we are all experiencing.

I wanted to connect student-athletes with one another to let them share their stories, hoping this would help members of our greater community know they are not alone during these trying times. I wish to continue these interviews and conversations about mental health that are often difficult and sometimes uncomfortable. I hope that we, as a University community, can come together and listen and learn from one another’s experiences.

Michael Calabrese ’21 is a sport management major at the University of New Haven.