Virginia Tech Athletics THRIVE hosts Rookie Training Camp – VT

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech Athletics’ THRIVE conducted its Rookie Training Camp in October, holding two events, one for female and male student-athletes, to give freshmen student-athletes a space to connect about their mental health. 
THRIVE was created by Virginia Tech’s Student-Athlete Development office in conjunction with the Counseling & Mental Performance (CAMP) department to break the stigma surrounding mental health. The initiative is led by CAMP’s Lauren Naldo and Student-Athlete Development’s Natalie Forbes in addition to the THRIVE Tribe, a group of student-athletes from each athletic program. This group assists in the planning and execution of THRIVE events. 
“Freshman year can be a very challenging time for many student-athletes, with lots of transition and changes,” Forbes said. “We were thrilled to be able to provide these freshmen a space to hear from some of the upperclassmen about their own experiences, talk with one another about what this year has looked like for them so far, and build community around the topic of mental health, one that is often avoided. 
“After many months of numerous virtual events, our office and the CAMP staff were very excited to bring back the in-person THRIVE programming and the connections and relationships that come as a result.”
The first event of the Fall 2021 semester was for female student-athletes on the night of Oct. 11. Over 50 female student-athletes attended the event which featured discussion groups led by THRIVE Tribe members, visualization exercises designed to combat stress and anxiety, and a discussion panel featuring upperclassmen student-athletes who shared their experiences as a freshman student-athlete.
“The transition to college can be one of the hardest changes a person can go through and being a student-athlete means there is more to navigate during this change,” Virginia Tech lacrosse student-athlete and THRIVE Tribe member Mary Griffin said. “Being able to provide a safe space for freshmen and create a culture that encourages vulnerability is so important and THRIVE does just that.”
The event for male student-athletes was Oct. 25 and, like the female event, featured a discussion panel of upperclassmen student-athletes and activities designed to help the freshmen juggle everything that goes into being a Division I student-athlete. Over 65 student-athletes attended the event that also included a mindfulness demonstration from Associate Athletic Director of Sport Psychology Dr. Gary Bennett. 
“It was eye opening to see how many other guy athletes have been in the same positions I am in now and have felt the same stress,” Virginia Tech baseball freshman student-athlete Marcus Dux said. “It was comforting and helpful to hear from them and to know how I feel is normal and that there are others around me willing to help and support if I need it. They are so understanding because they have been in same situations.”
Both events concluded with a “make your own ice cream sandwich” bar. THRIVE plans to hold its next event open for all student-athletes during the spring semester.
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