It was September 9, 2017. Notre Dame hosting Georgia. During warmups, quarterback Brandon Wimbush dropped back to pass.
“I went to throw a hitch, and the ball got away from me,” Wimbush recalled. “Throwing a football was never the same.”
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It had nothing to do with his physical talent, but his mental health, which Wimbush said became the reason he stopped playing football.
“The lack of mental strength and understanding of my needs ultimately led to no longer playing the sport I loved,” Wimbush said. “I always expressed to the people closest to me how painful it was not being able to do what you know you do so naturally well – and for me that was throwing a football.”
Six years later, as a figure in the NIL space with MOGL, Wimbush is hoping to change the negative stigma around mental health through a new partnership.
On Tuesday, in a press release obtained by The NIL Deal, MOGL announced a partnership with Alkeme Health, supporting the company’s Alkeme Health Coalition, which aims to address mental health in college sports by offering awareness, education and resources for athletes to support their own well-being.
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“We are thrilled to add MOGL as an organization to our Athlete Coalition group,” Ryan Mundy, founder of Alkeme Health and former Pittsburgh Steelers safety, said in a statement. “As a former college athlete myself, I wanted to make sure our tools and resources were accessible for college athletes across the country. MOGL has been a leader and an advocate for the college athlete from the beginning, so our product at Alkeme will help the MOGL team affirm their place as a tool that keeps athletes top of mind in the NIL marketplace space.”
The partnership is special to Wimbush, who credits Mundy as a close friend and mentor for years.
“He understands the struggles that student-athletes face and I know that Alkeme’s resources will resonate with our athletes at MOGL,” Wimbush said. “We are committed to creating a product that serves the off-the-field needs of college athletes, with mental health being one of the biggest.”
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The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to data from the American College of Sports Medicine, approximately 30% of female and 25% of male student-athletes report having anxiety. However, only 10% of all college athletes with known mental health conditions seek care from mental health professionals.
As Wimbush thinks back to that singular pass in 2017, he hopes to change the narrative of mental health by creating a culture of discussion.
“While significant progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to fully eradicate the negative mental health stigma that continues to afflict college and professional athletes,” Wimbush said. “As many as 30% of collegiate athletes feel overwhelmed and often find it difficult to complete tasks due to factors like the physical and mental demands of their sport, family economic issues, and/or academic-related stress.”
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Wimbush continued: “The negative stigma around mental health prevented me and many other collegiate athletes from seeking early forms of help and assistance. This is something I regret, but I never knew that resources were available on campus or that athletes in my position could seek out this type of help.”
“I hope to change this for future athletes by helping to build a culture where discussing our mental health as athletes is cool. People like Kevin Love, Naomi Osaka, Dak Prescott, Simone Biles, and Brandon Marshall have all been a massive part of the shift in this conversation, and it needs to trickle down to little league sports and become an integral part of youth sports.”