“It is about more than the game and we need all hands on deck,” says Blake Machan, a coach and proud parent, who believes that it takes an entire community to change the status quo about mental health in sports.
Jon Armbruster and Blake have teamed up to create a golf tournament fundraiser at The Links of GlenEagles to stimulate conversation about mental health and how it relates to sport. Blake said Jon “initiated this tournament to bring people together across sport, industry and community with the focus on connecting people.” The two have been friends for 20 years, and have worked on running sport specific training camps and encouraging each other throughout their endeavours, so it was a no brainer to plan a fundraiser together. Jon comments that golf is a great way to connect with others and that playing together builds trust.
Both men have sports backgrounds; Jon has coached hockey and been a part of the hockey business as a player representative, and Blake played football with the Dinos at the University of Calgary and was also drafted by the Calgary Stampeders. Throughout his sports journey, Blake noticed that there is still stigma around mental health in sport. He says “we can tweak the discussion to focus on how each of our mental health impacts performance and intentionally build life skills that will empower us all to live impactful lives on and off the field.”
Blake truly realized the impact of this statement after he experienced a panic attack that started a journey of self-reflection and healing. He recognized that anxiety had been a part of his life since he was young, and that it had affected his personal and professional relationships, as well as his athletic and coaching performance. Blake knew something had to change, and so he started Thrive Sport Project.
Thrive Sport Project is an organization that aims to bring awareness to the roles that sports, coaches, parents, and associations play in the development of youth. One main focus is to help athletes answer the question “do I matter?” By answering this question, the focus is pulled away from winning and losing and is shifted to realizing one’s own impact. Jon says that Blake “loves to win, but still cares more about the person and what is going on inside.”
Jon also wants to increase awareness around mental health and youth, as “value-filled, purpose-driven conversations with a listening ear can create solutions.” That is why Jon has chosen to support the CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART initiative. Jon also had the opportunity to coach his friend, Rick, who was affected by mental illness. He wishes he could have helped him more, so moving forward he wants to help others who are struggling and whose stories he may not know.
Come join this dynamic duo and other golfers at The Links of GlenEagles on August 9, 2018. It will be a 4-person scramble with opportunities for teams to express gratitude and discuss their own experiences. There will be games, prizes, and dinner, followed by a panel discussion with topics such as experiencing grief after leaving the sport you love, and what role sports play in developing youth.
To learn more about this event and register, click here.
You can learn more about Thrive Sport Project at www.thrivesportproject.com where you can sign up to receive blog posts or find out how Thrive Sport Project can get involved with your association or team.