Let’s Talk Microinsults in Sports – Tua Tagovailoa

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


On September 21, 2021 I wrote about Lamar Jackson and Microaggressions.  Today I want to address a media member’s microinsults towards Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during MEDIA DAY INTERVIEW on January 10, 2024.  I reviewed the Transcript of the interview in its entirety to get full context.  I want to first give a shout out to Tua Tagovailoa for how he handled the interview as a professional with grace and patience.  It is not easy to have the spotlight on you while answering questions.  Now that we have addressed the positive aspect of the interview let’s get down to business.  

Towards the end of the interview the media member asks the question, “Could you educate me?”.    The media member’s question is followed up with his reason for wanting to be educated with, “I got pushback because I referred to you as Hawaiian on social media. You’re Hawaiian? You’re from Hawaii?”  While I can understand wanting to be educated, when comments made are culturally insensitive and it is brought to your attention by others, it is my belief that WE ALL are responsible for doing our own work.  The interview became even more uncomfortable to watch when the media member gave a half hearted question/directive to “Explain the difference”.  Talk about digging your heels into your ignorance.  These culturally insensitive errors made by the media member are Microinsults.  The definition of microinsults are insensitivities or rudeness communicated verbally/non-verbally about a person’s identity.  Additionally, the question/directive veered away from what the interview could have been.  It is my understanding that a major responsibility of a media member/journalist is to do research, so the questions that are asked result in fresh, authentic conversation.  It seems as though this media member neglected this aspect of his work. 

Understanding what Microinsults are is imperative, because it is the first step in growing cultural capacity.  The next step in growing our cultural capacity is to in the moment (I know easier said than done), calmly point out when Microinsults occur.  Lastly, it would be of societal benefit for all of us to do our own research on cultures outside of our own.  Resources for Polynesian culture include the following…

  1. Polyneisan Culture & History
  2. Wikipedia Polynesian
  3. The Journal of the Polynesian Society; Volume 13

Bleacher Report. Retrieved January 15, 2024.

Let’s Talk Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin, DeSanto Rollins & Mental Health

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


In recent days the Ole Miss Football Program, led by Lane Kiffin has been in the news concerning one of his players, Defensive Tackle DeSanto Rollins.  In a leaked audio conversation, Kiffin can be heard cursing at Rollins, mentioning Rollins not showing up for weeks when Kiffin messaged him.  In response Rollins stated “I don’t know why you have to be so disrespectful honestly.”  Kiffin responded by saying “Get out of here….“Go read your f******g rights about mental health, we can kick you off the team.”  

First and foremost, there is definitely more that was shared in the leaked audio.  Please reference it below if you would like to hear more.  Secondly, listening to the audio only provides a small piece of this story.  However, what I would like to put at the forefront of all of this is Mental Health.

According to reports, the entire Ole Miss football coaching staff is Mental Health First Aid Certified.  Many articles indicate that Mental Health First Aid Training’s goals are…

  • To create a culture where players feel just as comfortable treating a mental ailment as a physical one.
  • For coaches, although not mental health experts, to identify mental health issues and implement an action plan where the athlete or staff member gets the help they need. 

This is great in my opinion for a couple of reasons.  Becoming more knowledgeable about Mental Health can support breaking the stigma associated with mental health by creating positive experiences for coaches who may need to utilize their knowledge to support their student athletes.  As well as by encouraging student athletes to speak up and access mental health.  

With Kiffin’s track record of winning in multiple college football programs, first aid mental health certification and whatever other components of building young men he brings to the table, one might hypothesize that he has the coaching toolbox for his student athletes to become well rounded and whole.    

After doing some research on DeSanto Rollins I am glad to see that he is the definition of a true student athlete.  From Baton Rouge Louisiana, Rollins was a three star recruit, majoring in general business and holds many academic accolades including….

  • SEC Honor Roll (2021, 2022)
  • Chancellor’s Honor Roll (Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023)
  • Dean’s Honor Roll (Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023)
  • Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023)
  • SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll (2020-21)

Currently, he has filed a $40 million lawsuit against Kiffin and Ole Miss with allegations of racial discrimination, discrimination on the basis of disability, sexual discrimination, intentional affliction of emotional distress and negligence and gross negligence.  The details of each allegation are outlined in the article Lane Kiffin lawsuit: Heated audio from Ole Miss coach’s meeting with DeSanto Rollins.  

As mentioned earlier in my blog, Mental Health is at the forefront.  Let me first mention that Rollin’s allegations can contribute to mental health challenges for anyone. Secondly, the above article mentions Rollins’ report of multiple injuries, being forced to play injured, the death of his grandmother, and experiencing white student athletes returning to teams after taking a mental health breaks is rather concerning to me.  Again, these are allegations and we do not have the entire story.  We cannot point fingers, but the truth of the matter is that it seems that this student athlete did not get the support he needed.  

My hope in the end is that DeSanto Rollins can receive the necessary help to heal mentally and physically, graduate with at least his Bachelor’s Degree, and live a happy and fulfilling life.

In my own experience as a clinician, growing capacity for mental health occurs over time, experiences and dedication to training.  Reports indicated that the mental health first aid training took eight hours to complete with a follow up two hour assignment.  So, I wonder what follow up mental health training looked like afterwards.

Lastly, how Kiffin communicated with Rollins in the leaked audio is not a good look.  I do not expect him to have the same level of understanding as myself and other clinicians.  Nor do I expect him to always know how to navigate mental health conversations with his student athletes.  I do hope that he wants and continues to be a lifelong learner of mental health and collaborator with the mental health field.  

Because it’s needed!


Lane Kiffin lawsuit: Heated audio from Ole Miss coach’s meeting with DeSanto Rollins.

Retrieved November 12, 2023.

Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss lead the way in prioritizing Mental Health within football program. Retrieved November 12, 2023.

Ole Miss Sports. Retrieved November 12, 2023.–rollins/4527

Let’s Talk Mental Preparation & Business of Sport

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


This is a reminder to all athletes, especially to marginalized athletes with a dream of becoming a professional athlete.

Being a Professional athlete may be your DREAM, however there is a business component within being a professional athlete that often outweighs your DREAM. That business component may very well be rooted in bias and attempt to minimize your value, such as in the case of NFL running back Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. This is something that happens not only on a professional level, but also college, high school and within youth sports. THIS can impact YOUR Mental Health, especially if you don’t understand the Business/Politics side of sport. It’s not always about how good you are or your ability to produce athletically. With that being said it is important to be a well-rounded PERSON by…

  1. Exploring/Engaging in all of your interests not just sports
  2. Lean into understanding the business side of your sport
  3. Engage in Self Care by…
    a. Journaling
    b. Talking with a trusted adult/friend
    c. Working with a therapist to build on your strengths & improve on areas of growth
    d. Exercise/Playing different recreational sports for fun
    e. Learning to cook/Eating healthy
    f. Watching a movie

Or whatever else OUTSIDE of sports that you enjoy doing.

#studentathletecounseling #socialworkinsports #mentalhealth #morethananathlete #wellrounded #football #basketball #baseball #boxing #softball #soccer #tennis #sport #athlete #business #40milliondollarslaves #seeisaacrun

Let’s Talk About Trauma in Sports Follow Up!

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


According to the U.S. National Registry of Sudden Death in Athletes from 1980-2011, there were 1,306 Sudden Cardiac Deaths (SCD) in young athletes (13-25 years of age) participating in organized sports. The U.S. National Registry of Sudden Death reported that the most common causes of SCD among young athletes are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (36%), coronary artery abnormalities (19%), myocarditis (7%), Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (5%), Coronary Artery Disease (4%), and Commotio Cordis (3%), which is what Damar Hamlin experienced. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Commotio Cordis is a condition in which an abnormal heart rhythm, ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest happen immediately upon an object striking the chest directly over the heart at a very critical time during a heartbeat.  In knowing that Commotio Cordis occurs in 3% of young athletes, although Damar’s experience was extremely rare he was Blessed to have such a great medically responsive team!  With that being said, I for one am glad that Damar Hamlin is on the road to recovery!!!  

Now, let’s talk about trauma in sports! More specifically let’s talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in sports.  We all know that sports are a form of entertainment.  However, let us not forget that athlete participation can come at a price and unfortunately in the case of Damar Hamlin, trauma!  Before diving into the topic of PTSD in sports I would like to preface that experiencing a traumatic event does not mean that an individual will experience PTSD.

PTSD, by clinical definition is exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.  Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest and needing to be revived would be considered a threat of death and serious injury.  Signs and symptoms of PTSD that Damar, his football brothers on the Bills and Bengals organizations and others could experience include the following.

  1. Having unprompted and intrusive memories
  2. Flashbacks of event
  3. Nightmares
  4. Severe Anxiety
  5. Avoiding
    1. Stressful thoughts
    2. Feelings
    3. People and places related to the event  

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Sports Social Worker my hope is that Damar, his brothers and any and everyone who feels that they need support reach out to a trusted person and or a mental health professional.  Let us not become desensitized to life due to the glamorization of sport and continue to love one another as human beings first and foremost.

Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from,critical%20time%20during%20a%20heartbeat.

Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: A … – circulation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2023, from 

Let’s Talk About Trauma in Sports!

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Yes I said it. TRAUMA!!!

Medical staff rushed to the field to conduct CPR on Damar Hamlin who was going into cardiac arrest. This was a life threatening situation and not a time to talk philosophy/analytics. Athletes are human beings first and foremost. So when lives are at stake and we see human beings fall to the ground let’s call it what it is! TRAUMA!!! You have to do better Skip Bayless and NFL, call the game earlier! For Damar, his family, teammates, friends and everyone watching. Because WE are bigger than the game.

Courtside Wellness Podcast – Running it Back With Jamal Jackson


Black Sports History Month

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Lynette Woodard attended Wichita North High School (Wichita KS) in the 1980’s where she played Varsity Women’s Basketball, winning two consecutive state championships.  She would go on to attend University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship.  At KU basketball Lynette broke records in scoring and points per game, was a four year All-American and the first KU woman to have her jersey number retired when she left. Additionally, Lynette was named Academic All-American twice.  She would graduate from the University of Kansas in 1981, and go on to play professional basketball in the Italian Women’s League, win the 1984 women’s basketball gold medal, work as a stockbroker, become the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters in 1985, be drafted by the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Rockers in 1997, be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004, become an athletic director and college coach and countless other accomplishments.  

Student Athlete Counseling would like to give a special shout out to student athlete pioneer Lynette Woodard on Black Sports History Month!

#blackhistorymonth #bhm #blacksportshistory #bhm #lynettewoodard #basketball #student #athlete #studentathlete #athleticexcellence #academicexcellence #trailblazer #harlemglobetrotter #wnba #studentathletecounseling

Black Sports History Month – Social Work In Sports

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


On February 22, 2020 my Brother Dr. Jason Hiram Lester invited me to speak to his University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work class about my journey in becoming a Social Worker and my Private Practice Student Counseling. It was an honor and a Blessing!

#socialwork #msw #highereducation #guestlecturer #changeagent #mentalhealth #studentathletecounseling #bhm #retro2bhm #gomab

Black Sports History Month

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Tidye Pickett attended Englewood High School (Chicago IL) in the 1930’s.  By 1932 Tidye had made a name for herself as an exceptional track and field athlete who broke National Records and earned a trip to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles California.  Tidye and Louise Stokes, another track and field star, were the first African-American women selected for the 1932 Olympic games.  However, they were both left off the final Olympic team due to discrimination and racism.  Both would experience more bouts with discrimination and racism on their journey as Olympic athletes including, having a teammate pour water on them while sleeping, not being invited to hotel Olympic banquets like their white teammates, and having to share a room in the attic while their white teammates had private rooms.  Tidye would compete at the 1936 Olympics, where she qualified for the 80 meter hurdles but was unable to place due to an injury.  She attended Illinois State University and is the first student athlete from the school to compete in the Olympics.  Tidye would go on to become a school teacher and then principal in Chicago.  

Student Athlete Counseling would like to give a special shout out to student athlete pioneer Tidye Pickett on Black Sports History Month!

#blackhistorymonth #bhm #blacksportshistory #bhm #tidyepickett #trackandfield #student #athlete #studentathlete #athleticexcellence #academicexcellence #trailblazer # #olympics #studentathletecounseling

Black Sports History Month

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Lowell Cheatham Wormley attended Dunbar High School (Washington D.C.) in the 1900’s.  He would enroll at Dartmouth College @dartmouthcollege where he was a varsity member of the Lacrosse team.  Lowell would graduate from Dartmouth in 1927 and then complete two additional years of medical education followed by four years of medical school at Howard University @howard1867 where he finished with honors in 1931.  Lowell would go on to join the army in 1941. Following an honorable discharge he was appointed Senior Medical Officer in charge of surgery at Poston Regional Hospital in Arizona.

Other accomplishments include serving on the boards of the Arizona Medical Society, Salvation Army, NAACP Phoenix Chapter, Maricopa Council of Campfire Girls of Arizona, and was the President of the Phoenix Chapter of Dartmouth Alumni and was honored for his successful efforts to have his alma mater enroll Native Americans, which Dartmouth College was originally established.

Student Athlete Counseling gives a special shout out to Lowel Cheatham Wormley on Black Sports History Month!

#blacksportshistory #bhm #lowellcwormley #lacrosse #student #athlete #studentathlete #athleticexcellence #academicexcellence #trailblazer #army #doctor #studentathletecounseling

Black Sports History Month

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Joseph Edward Trigg attended M. Street High School in Washington, D.C. where in his Senior year he would earn All Scholastic honors (high academic honors).  He would go on to attend Syracuse University where he participated on the Freshman Crew in 1913, Junior Varsity Crew in 1914 before becoming the first Black student athlete to make and participate in Varsity Crew in 1915.From 1914  through 1916 Joseph played offensive guard on the Varsity football team at Syracuse. 

Howard went on to attend medical school at Howard University and then practiced medicine for 30 years.  During that time he became the first Black examining physician for boxing in Washington D.C. as well as the first Black a member of the Boxing Commission. 

Other accomplishments include serving in the military during WWI, member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Youth Organization and an active member of St. Vincent de Paul Society, which serves the poor, the suffering, and the deprived.

Student Athlete Counseling would like to give a special shout out to Joseph Edward Trigg!

#blacksportshistory #studentathlete #josephedwardtrigg #rowing #football #scholastic #doctor #syracuseuniversity #howarduniversity #studentathletecounseling

Let’s Talk Microaggressions in Sport!

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


ESPN‘s comment about Lamar Jackson aka @new_era8 not being able to throw for 300 yards in a game is a microaggression towards Black ability to play the quarterback position in the @nfl.  And the added mention of @JalenHurts seems to be a means for ESPN to say “Hey, we’re not making racially insensitive comments when pointing out African American quarterback Lamar Jackson’s shortcomings (ie. inability to throw for 300 yards) because we compared him to another African American quarterback who can play the quarterback position.”  This is also a microaggression.

The differences in the description of African American quarterbacks and White quarterbacks over the years is exhausting, no matter how many times racial Microaggressions are pointed out we are reminded that there are individuals and organizations who still feel Blacks do not meet the “Golden Standard” of what it means to be an NFL quarterback, and there has been a long history of the exacerbation of systemic hoarding of the quarterback position to maintain whiteness.

So glad Lamar and company were successful in their game on Sunday Night Football and have had successful seasons in years prior!  @new_era8 thank you for your drive to stay focused and committed to your team’s success! And thank you to Coach Harbaugh for believing in your African American quarterback!

In the infamous words of @keyshawn , @randygmoss, @criscarter1965 & crew to @espn …

To the youth, high school, and college African American/Black/person of color, any student, student athlete, or individual with a dream and passion for greatness, follow in the footsteps of Lamar Jackson! Below is a list of 5 thoughts/actionable behaviors I have witnessed from Lamar Jackson and recommend in navigating microaggressions, and other aspects of negative life experiences. 

To the youth, high school, and college African American/Black/person of color, any student, student athlete, or individual with a dream and passion for greatness, follow in the footsteps of Lamar Jackson! Below is a list of 5 thoughts/actionable behaviors I have witnessed from Lamar Jackson and recommend in navigating microaggressions, and other aspects of negative life experiences. 

  1. Plan your long term goals
    • For example
      • Lamar Jackson – Win the Super Bowl
      • Student Athlete – Earn a full ride athletic scholarship
  2. Plan your short term goals that help you reach your long term goals
    • For example
      • Lamar Jackson – Practice, Study plays, play consistently, execute, win one game per week
      • Student Athlete – Get to sleep Monday through Thursday by 9:45pm, complete all homework assignments during off periods before practice, watch film 3x per week, finish in top 5 during conditioning at the end of practice
  3. Focus on your short term goals
    • You have already planned out your long term goal, now it is time to put into action your daily steps (ie. short term goals) to assist in moving you closer to your long term goal.
  4. Engage in Self-Care
    • For example
      • Positive self-talk, guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, eating healthy, consistent exercise, laughter, spending time engaging in activities you enjoy, etc
  5. Surround yourself with positive, motivating people
    • For example
      • Lamar Jackson – Coach Harbaugh, Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown , etc
      • Student Athlete – A Coach, teacher, family member, friend(s), mentor

Alliance of Social Workers in Sports – Life After Sports Project

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


In Summer 2020, the Alliance of Social Workers in Sports (ASWIS) Committee on College Sports launched the Life After Sports Project in order to provide useful career advice to current student-athletes from former student-athletes. The Committee reached out to former student athletes within the ASWIS and I was one of several former college student athletes, now clinicians, who responded and shared my experience of transitioning from student athlete to career through a questionnaire.

To see the details of my colleagues and my career advice and experiences as former transitioning college student athletes view below and or you can visit the Alliance of Social Workers in Sport website at!

Athletes & Grief – Sha’Carri Richardson

Jamal T. Jackson, LCSW


Elite. Mesmerizing. Powerful. Athlete. Grief. Compassion. Human. These are the words that come to my mind when I think about the last two years of Sha’Carri Richardson’s journey to the Olympics.  She rose to fame in 2019 becoming one of the fastest women in history at the young age of 19 running a 10.75 in the 100 meter dash! ELITE! But she wasn’t finished! Earlier this year she broke her own 100 meter record running a 10.72. MESMERIZING!  This places Sha’Carri in the history books as the sixth fastest women in the 100 meter dash.  POWERFUL!  The dedication, physical skill and mental stamina necessary to perform at an elite level leaves no question about her athletic prowess. ATHLETE! 

Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience triggering grief.  Grief is a strong emotional reaction to loss.  Sha’Carri Richardson was informed of her biological mother’s death by a reporter.  What a numbing feeling it must be to be told by a complete stranger that your biological mother has passed!  GRIEF!  It is important to mention that this article is in no way a means to excuse her decision to use marijuana but rather to build more compassion for a woman who is grieving. COMPASSION!  

Sha’Carri reported using marijuana to cope after learning about her biological mother’s death! Sha’Carri may be an elite, mesmerizing powerful athlete but at the forefront she is HUMAN!  And as humans we all make mistakes.  Sha’Carri’s mistake has resulted in her accepting responsibility in the form of a 30 day Olympic suspension and the United States Anti Doping Agency disqualifying her US Olympic trials times.  Discipline has been assessed so let her live and uplift her in her time of need! Additionally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the link between grief and substance use.  Whether you agree or disagree with the utilization of marijuana to cope with grief I challenge you to do your research before jumping to assumptions and judgements.  Lastly, as a clinician it is my hope that the people in Sha’Carri’s corner are finding the necessary mental health resources to support her healing!

Referring to the Cycle of Grief can be helpful in understanding what Sha’Carri, other athletes and or people in general are experiencing when they lose a loved one.  Furthermore, the Cycle of Grief experience is different for each person and dependent on many variables.

  1. Denial refers to a conscious or unconscious refusal in accepting the facts of loss. Sha’Carri, other athletes or individuals may present as refusing to discuss the death of a loved one.  Unconscious denial may present as communicating as if the loved one is alive. 
  2. Anger refers to a secondary emotion, oftentimes found underlying fear and sadness. Many times sadness comes from the experience of loss.  Sha’Carri, other athletes or individual’s anger from the loss of a loved one may result in directing anger at others and possibly blaming others for their grief.
  3. Bargaining refers to avoiding grief through negotiating. Sha’Carri, other athletes or individuals may cycle through what if statements (ie. What if I was nicer? What if I was there to support them when they asked? What if I would have only answered the phone when they called)  
  4. Depression refers to empty feelings (feeling numb) from loss, grief on a deeper level with feelings of hopelessness.  Sha’Carri, other athletes or individuals may experience withdrawal (ie. not wanting to be around others or get out of bed, not feeling like talking, or suicidal thoughts)  
  5. Acceptance refers to accepting the reality that someone is gone and a potential for emotional stabilization.  It is important to mention that acceptance is the experience of not being okay with loss, because the reality is no one will ever be okay with losing someone close to them. 

If you have lost a family member, friend or someone close to you make sure you contact a mental health professional for support.  

Looking for a therapist to address your experience with loss?

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.

  1. My challenges with my attitude, behavior and decision making which limited my scholarship opportunities. 
  2. My lack of knowledge in marketing myself as a student athlete to colleges, which I would not understand until later in life. 
  3. 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…

  1. Having a good season
  1. Having coaches who cared and supported me.  

Shout out to Coach Buchanan!!! Thank you for ALL you have done for me!!! GOMAB

  1. 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

George Mycock

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.


myo_minds#myominds #myomindstory #mms #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #fitness #sport #timetotalk

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…

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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.   


Jamal T. Jackson, MSW

January 13, 2020

Natalie Graves, AM, LCSW

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!!!

Displaying extreme mood swingsMental disorders – including but not limited to anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders
Acting anxious, agitated, & or recklessHopelessness
Talking about wanting to die or kill oneselfExperience with loss – including but not limited to loss of close family member/friend, home, job, and parents separating/divorce
Increase in substance useStigma associated with mental health 
Feelings of hopelessnessTrauma history
Withdrawing or isolating from othersAggressive/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.
    1. Prepare yourself to draw a square with your index finger utilizing the following directions.
    2. 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)
    3. While holding your breath draw a line across your body with your index finger (stop after using a slow count of 4)
    4. Draw a line down with your index finger, while gently exhaling your breath through your mouth (using a slow count of 4)
    5. While holding your breath, draw a line across your body with your index finger to the count of 4. 
    6. 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.

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