Last Chance U – Sport Social Worker Thoughts
Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW
July 29, 2020
In being fully transparent, I do not promote Last Chance U as simply an entertainment venture. Many of these student athlete’s experiences are complicated and come with significant challenges. I have a deep understanding of the systemic, societal, generational, financial, and psychological challenges that exist in the docu-series Last Chance U as well as in the sports world. Watching some of the scenes can bring up a lot of emotions, from sadness, anger, confusion, disgust, fear, hope, pride, joy and the list can go on. With that being said, I am a fan of each student athlete’s journey to navigation toward serenity and accomplishment of goals. This statement holds true for all student athletes and athletes as well.
In my role as a school social worker and Founder of Student Athlete Counseling I fight oppression, injustices, systemic racism and inequalities faced by youth, families and student athletes. One aspect of fighting societal and systemic challenges for me includes informing people about existing issues of student athletes. Click HERE for a snapshot of my work in reference to the before mentioned challenges.
I inform by posting content on my social media about student athletes, such as those on Last Chance U. In addition, as a change agent I post my work with Student Athlete Counseling to provide a different perspective for others to create awareness, and internalization of the triumphs and difficulties of being a student athlete, as well as to create a space for conversation to support breaking the stigma with mental health.
It has been far too long that the needs of student athletes have not been a priority. However, I am proud, honored and encouraged that there are so many mental health professionals and people in this world who have created the space to break the stigma with mental health for the betterment of student athletes, athletes, the sports world and society as a whole. I am rooting for each and every student athlete on Last Chance U, as well as all other athletes in this world, as Kendrick Lamar would say to “Be Alright”.
My Experience Being a High School/Juco Student Athlete & Marketing Myself to Colleges & Universities
Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW
June 24, 2020
I played every sport under the sun growing up! Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Track & Field, and Football, just to name a few.
After high school I chose to continue my student athlete collegiate career at the junior college level, not due to poor grades or test scores, because they were decent; but because of three reasons.
- My challenges with my attitude, behavior and decision making which limited my scholarship opportunities.
- My lack of knowledge in marketing myself as a student athlete to colleges, which I would not understand until later in life.
- And, most important to me at the time, my dream to compete at the division one level.
Anyone who has played junior college sports has an appreciation and understanding for the everyday grind of being a student athlete at the junior college level. It ain’t no joke!
I can honestly say, in my freshman year I struggled in a multitude of ways, but that story is for another day. However, I was persistent in my goal of earning a full ride athletic scholarship; and in my sophomore year I did well enough in the classroom, weight room and on the football field to do just that. And, I am not just sharing to brag or impress anyone, but to be transparent in telling my story.
However, at that point in time, I thought I had arrived, and that division one schools would be calling left and right, offering me athletic scholarships. A point of weakness for me was within my mental preparedness, as well as in understanding the business aspects of marketing myself to colleges and universities. It also didn’t help that the director of football operations, who was responsible for supporting college and universities placement, abruptly left; again another day, another story.
Also during my sophomore year, I was lucky and blessed enough to fall into marketing myself as a student athlete to four colleges and universities, by…
- Having a good season
- Having coaches who cared and supported me.
Shout out to Coach Buchanan!!! Thank you for ALL you have done for me!!! GOMAB
- Having the necessary knowledge of the process of recruitment in relationship to societal challenges
And this resulted in earning a full ride athletic scholarship.
There were also some hard lessons that I learned, including losing my full ride athletic scholarship. Again, I’m telling my story for transparency…
So, to all my high school aged student athletes wanting to continue student athlete careers after high school, understanding how to market yourself to colleges and universities is a non-negotiable tool that you need!
Mental Rehearsal Visualization Exercise
March 31, 2020
NASWCO-SOCIAL WORK MONTH HONOREE – Jamal Jackson for outstanding contributions to the social work profession
National Association of Social Workers – Colorado Chapter
March 25, 2020
Why did you choose to become a social worker? What led you to this field?
Jamal Jackson is a School Social Worker and Student Athlete Counselor. He has worked with youth since completing his Bachelor’s Degree studying Sports Management in 2006. Jamal was a student athlete through his undergraduate years with hopes and dreams of becoming a professional athlete and then transitioning into a sports agent role afterwards. See More on NASW-CO Instagram Page
SAC owner/founder Jamal Jackson’s Interview with Myominds
March 20, 2020
Hey MyoMinds, our founder George had the pleasure of interviewing Jamal Jackson, the founder of Student Athlete Counseling (@student_athlete_counseling) and the man behind the developing documentary “See Isaac Run” (@seeisaacrun).
Growing up, Jamal’s dad’s sporting prowess, playing American football, was an inspiration for him. Jamal’s Dad was the player featured in the famous “See Isaac run” video released in 1969, his dad’s footwork and speed on the field wowed everyone who saw it and still does to this day! Sadly, when Jamal was 16 years old, his dad passed away. Obviously, this meant difficult times for him and his family, growing up Jamal decided to aim to be like this Dad, to strive to play American football professionally. Jamal worked hard and it showed in his skills, but becoming professional, when everyone else around you is too, is difficult. He didn’t manage to make it into the pro leagues, but Jamal knew he still had that passion to be in sports and he knew he had a passion to help others.
After Jamal finished at college he began working, starting from “ground zero” as he had to start figuring out what to do next. In 2011 he started his master’s degree in social work, he explained how his degree was mostly researched based but Jamal’s desire to help others pushed him to do extra, volunteering with local sports programs, helping young athletes be the best they can be mentally. It was right around this time when Jamal first developed Student Athlete Counseling. He began working with athletes one on one and in groups, Jamal quickly learnt that these athletes needed sport. Growing up in a difficult area and going through similar things that he did, he knew exactly what they were going through. Jamal began to perfect his style of coaching and counseling, he worked with athletes through loss of parents, anger management, problem solving and more. He began using the weight room in his sessions, showing athletes how they can apply thing from their sporting training into the world. Now Jamal has become fully qualified and is beginning to push on with his counseling services. Helping mentor young children as well as older student athletes through many different avenues. As mentioned previously, Jamal has also begun to work on a documentary about his dad; named “See Isaac Run” where they explore the inspiring story behind the video.
Jamal’s story is inspiring, through the hardship of losing his dad and battling to make it as an athlete, to then working and helping others who are going through exactly what he did. It is important for us all to see this bigger picture, there is always some light at the end of the tunnel. Often, it’s what we go through that guides us to how we help others.
MyoMinds goal is to use stories and future endeavours to break down stigma associated with mental health in sport and physical activity by promoting that it is normal and okay to struggle with mental health, as well as to show those involved in sport and physical activity that we are not alone. To learn more about Myominds please visit the following links…
The Effects of Loss on African American Male Student Athletes PART I
Jamal T. Jackson, MSW, LCSW
February 26, 2020
For mental health providers working with African American male student athletes it is important to understand the populations deeply rooted challenges in order to better support with the experience of loss. In my research findings African American male student athlete loss can be broken down into three categories. The first category includes loss of a parent/close relative/friend through separation, divorce, incarceration, death, and homicide. The second category of loss depends on this population’s circumstances, and includes growing up in a one parent or no parent household. The third category of loss includes varying degrees of foreseen or unforeseen transient actions which could include, parent(s) and or caretakers moving their families to another city/state and away from the only home/community that their child has known as well as any circumstance where a child has to “Start Over” socially and academically.
When encompassing the African American male student athlete progression into sports throughout the history of the United States, we must consider not only the family structures and the burden of social perception, but also the individual student athlete, and the tensions created by the progress of social acceptance and the impact of personal experience. The foundations of the African American experience in the United States are deeply rooted by the manifestation of slavery and oppression. It was the confidence generated through faith and resilience that brought forth the willpower to fight for civil rights for all African Americans in the United States. However, the regression of modern day perceptions has created the uprising of more discreet racism and microaggressions to influence the African American student athlete’s experience in today’s educational institutions. In considering the connections between school integration, and the experience within athletics, we must consider the historical progression of segregation, academic expectations, and the athletic focus in relation to African American student athletes.
The challenges that derive from deeply rooted cultural experience, perpetuates in modern day African American student athletes through their struggles to navigate personal loss, with clear understanding and interventions specific to their experience. Therefore, in order for mental health providers to implement meaningful interventions with African American male student athletes who have experienced loss, it is important to understand the cultural challenges of African American people both past and present.
SPOTLIGHT – MENTAL HEALTH IN SPORTS PROFESSIONALS YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!
Jamal T. Jackson, MSW
January 13, 2020
As society changes there is an increased need for mental health for all people. This need includes a significant growth within the field of Social Work in sports, which incorporates providing mental health support to athletes from youth to professional levels. Being in the field of social work in sports has provided me with an opportunity to learn how mental health workers are utilizing their skills to positively support athletes. Natalie Graves, AM, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) is one of Social Work in sport’s pioneers. Natalie has extensive training, earning a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration, a Bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University, an Addictions License from City Colleges of Chicago Kennedy-King College, and was a visiting student at the University of Maryland where she studied abroad in London, England, in Sport, Commerce, and Culture. She has been in the field of mental health for 20 years working in social service agencies, as a school social worker, as well as in consulting with schools. Natalie created the 1in4 Project, which is an organization aimed at collaborating with local service agencies, to build practices and educate communities, in order to improve the lives of athletes. Natalie’s organization would later go on to establish the first social work and athletics conference, called “Behind the Jersey Uncovering Mental Health in Sports” in the spring of 2015. Natalie has worked with many athletes specializing in anxiety, depression, athletic stress, PTSD, and substance abuse to name a few things. She has also been sought out by many professional organizations to support athlete mental health, including a 2018 HBO special Student Athlete, where she can be heard in the beginning of the initial credits discussing the challenge between educational attainment and athletic performance for student athletes. Natalie’s work and accomplishments have played a monumental and significant role in fueling athletes to seek out mental health support as well as in leading mental health workers in becoming a pivotal resource in the athletic field.
Student Athlete Signs of Suicide & Risk Factors – Bryce Gowdy
Jamal T. Jackson, MSW
January 1, 2020
Bryce Gowdy, a student athlete out of Deerfield Beach, Florida was set to enroll at Georgia Tech in January 2020 on a full ride football scholarship. Unfortunately, he died from suicide two days ago. After reading a few articles and listening to his mother Shibbon Winelle’s facebook live statement, it sounds like Bryce was a good kid! According to the media outlets and his family he was concerned for his families well-being, frequently checking up on his mother, brothers, aunts and uncles and reaching out to those family members for support when he needed to. Bryce also received good grades, which definitely supported the possibility for athletic scholarships. Combine that with his athletic prowess as a four star recruit and an exceptional character reference from his head coach and one might think life is all good!
However, what you will find in the articles and his mother’s video are hardships Bryce and his immediate family faced. Unfortunately, these hardships included homelessness, financial and mental health challenges. Bryce’s mother mentioned some warning signs of suicide present in Bryce prior to his death. The signs included, talking in circles about things his family was going through financially and with recently becoming homeless, as well as what Shibbon Winelle referred to as a paranoid state where Bryce described being trapped by doors and mirrors.
It is unfortunate that Bryce Gowdy is no longer with us and that we have to learn from his life in order to address mental health challenges within athletics. Although the conversation of suicide may be uncomfortable, maybe we need to be uncomfortable! That way we can begin to not only have conversations about suicide, but also create more exposure of mental health supports for student athletes. It is my hope that more exposure will lead to more resources for student athletes. With that being said, it is extremely important to be aware of the warning signs and risk factors of suicide which are listed below. My condolences to the family and friends of Bryce Gowdy! Blessings up!!!
|WARNING SIGNS||RISK FACTORS|
|Displaying extreme mood swings||Mental disorders – including but not limited to anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders|
|Acting anxious, agitated, & or reckless||Hopelessness|
|Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself||Experience with loss – including but not limited to loss of close family member/friend, home, job, and parents separating/divorce|
|Increase in substance use||Stigma associated with mental health|
|Feelings of hopelessness||Trauma history|
|Withdrawing or isolating from others||Aggressive/impulsive behaviors|
If you’re unsure of how to obtain help, contact a professional in the mental health field. Below are resources!
- Feeling depressed, sad or going through any kind of emotional crisis and don’t want to talk? TEXT 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Additionally, a GOFUNDME has been set up in Bryce’s honor. If you would like to Donate the link is below!
GOFUNDME – Bryce Gowdy
* UPDATE on Mike Glass III
December 28, 2019
Anger Management & Student Athletes – MSU QB Garrett Shrader & EMU QB Mike Glass III
Jamal T. Jackson, MSW
December 27, 2019
Yesterday multiple media outlets reported on two quarterbacks who seem to have let their anger get the best of them. One quarterback, Garrett Shrader, from Mississippi State suffered injuries to an orbital bone due to a fight with a teammate, and has most likely ended his participation in Mississippi State’s Music City Bowl game. The other quarterback, Mike Glass III from Eastern Michigan, was ejected and missed arguably the most important last few seconds of Eastern Michigan’s fourth quarter, 2019 Quick Lane Bowl appearance, in which they lost. I had the opportunity to watch Mike Glass III’s game and was impressed with his stats accumulating 300 yards passing with two touchdowns and 83 yards rushing with one touchdown.
After doing a little research I learned that Garrett Shrader is a freshman and Mike Glass III is a senior at their respective schools and it made me wonder about a few things. To start as a freshman student athlete on a Southeastern Conference football team is quite the accomplishment. However, how does Shrader’s conflict impact the team dynamics going forward? In the case of Mike Glass III, as the leader of that team, I wonder how he will address his behavior with his teammates. In my opinion, answers will be determined in time, by the coaches, teams, Garrett Shrader and Mike Glass III, as well as in what supports the universities have in place for their coaches, athletic staff and student athletes. Overall, and probably the most important questions are, how did Garrett Shrader and Mike Glass III’s get to such high emotional levels, and for future student athletes, what would be a go to tip in order to remain calm during conflict with others, as well as in competitive, intense environments, like the football field or basketball court? Below I have listed two strategies that can aide future coaches, student-athletes and all other student athlete stakeholders in how to be proactive when confronted with the challenge of anger in sports.
1. It’s important for student athletes to reflect on how their brains work in order to fully understand their behavior. Video & Link on brain functioning (Good decisions vs. Bad decisions) Coming Soon!!!
2. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises – The only way this works is by truly being committed to utilizing deep breathing before game time by practicing and during game time, when feeling intense emotions. One method of deep breathing is called The Square Breathing Technique, which can help shift energy and help student athletes connect with their body, supporting athletic performance. This technique can be simplistic and take minimal time to complete, once practiced. The Square Breathing Technique can be done while trotting back to the huddle after a play or walking to the bench during a timeout. In order to complete this exercise…
- In practicing this technique it is important to find somewhere to sit comfortably and quietly.
- Prepare yourself to draw a square with your index finger utilizing the following directions.
- Point your index finger in front of you & draw a line up while at the same time inhaling through your nose (stop at the count of 4)
- While holding your breath draw a line across your body with your index finger (stop after using a slow count of 4)
- Draw a line down with your index finger, while gently exhaling your breath through your mouth (using a slow count of 4)
- While holding your breath, draw a line across your body with your index finger to the count of 4.
- Repeat 1-3 times or as needed
It is normal for student athletes to experience elevated emotional states during competition. However, student athletes who react on emotions, like Garrett Shrader and Mike Glass III may benefit from utilizing square breathing or other strategies supporting emotional balance. Strategies supporting emotional balance can create a positive perception that student athletes are able to manage their emotions and handle conflict appropriately.
Student Athlete Five Stages of Grief – Long Island University Football Tragedy
Jamal T. Jackson, MSW
December 23, 2019
Long Island University starting quarterback and San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback C.J. Beathard’s brother Clayton Beathard recently died as a result of a confrontation this past weekend. One can only imagine what Clayton’s family is experiencing as a result. According to reports Clayton’s family has received overwhelming support which is good news. I wish for nothing but positive energy and light into their hearts and souls as they grieve through the loss of Clayton.
The question arises as to what supports Clayton’s teammates and coaches at Long Island University are receiving, as they too may be grieving his death. According to one teammate on Twitter, “Clay was an incredible teammate and an even better person that stood for nothing but positivity, and we will always keep you in our hearts.” The head coach tweeted, “Heart breaking day, our family is hurting, all of my thoughts and prayers are with the Beathard family.” In my opinion, someone needs to follow up with Clay’s teammates and coaches in regards to the previous tweets and potential feelings of grief.
Grief is unique to the person experiencing it. For student-athletes, having teammates can be considered an extension of your family. And, for football players that can potentially make up up to or over one hundred brothers living their everyday lives together, through summer and spring camp, daily practices, early morning film sessions and or workouts, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and attending daily classes. Therefore, Clayton’s teammates may be experiencing stages of grief which include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. It is important to mention the cycle of grief is different for each person and dependent on many variables.
Denial refers to a conscious or unconscious refusal in accepting the facts of loss. Clayton’s teammates conscious denial may present as a refusal to discuss anything about Clayon’s death. Unconscious denial may present as communicating as if Clay was still alive.
Anger refers to a secondary emotion, often times found underlying fear and sadness. Many times sadness comes from the experience of loss. Anger of loss can result in Clayon’s teammates feeling that life is not fair, directing anger at friends and family and or blaming others for their grief.
Bargaining refers to avoiding grief through negotiating. One way this may present itself in Clayon’s teammates can be through what if statements. For example, what if I would have met him that night – the accident would have never happened.
Depression refers to empty feelings (feeling numb) from loss, grief on a deeper level with feelings of hopelessness. Clayton’s teammates may experience withdrawal, not wanting to be around others or get out of bed, not feeling like talking, or suicidal thoughts.
Acceptance refers to accepting the reality that someone is gone and a potential for emotional stabilization. It is important to mention that acceptance is not being okay with loss, because no one will ever be okay with losing someone close to them. Clayton’s teammates posting their condolences regarding his death is a great example of what acceptance can look like.
Although circumstances like this can be hard, it’s important to recognize where student athletes are at within these stages and that there is no direct order in which the stages present. If you, as a student-athlete are struggling in identifying the stage you are at, it would benefit you to seek professional supports.
His dad was a local football legend, but he wants to know MORE
Wherever Lanier High School’s No. 25 took a handoff on the football field, the odds were decent that he might score. Running back Isaac Jackson ran for 1,940 yards and scored 21 touchdowns during his junior year, rushing for more than 100 yards in all but one game, said Lanier historian Arthur “Bubba” Schmidt. Read More
MSU DENVER SOCIAL EVENT – OCTOBER 21, 2015
Last weekend social workers from across the country gathered in Denver for the Council on Social Work Education’s national conference. MSU Denver’s Department of Social Work seized on that opportunity, co-organizing and hosting a pre-conference forum called Social Work in Sports 2015. READ MORE
PLENTY OF PEOPLE SAW ISAAC RUN
ESPN didn’t become a part of our nation’s culture until 1979 when it was launched Sept. 7, but had the network been operational a decade earlier, there is no doubt that Isaac Jackson would have been featured on the “SportsCenter” plays of the day on numerous occasions. READ MORE