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'It is actually a really big deal': How to help student-athletes cope with coronavirus effects on sports

A local therapist explains how parents can help their student-athletes get through a time without sports.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A lot of us are trying to navigate life without sports. For student-athletes, it could be tough.

"We think about each of us as a flower with petals on it and each petal is one of our identifies," said Whitney Brown, who is a therapist with Family Solutions. "Student-athletes have more because they have more than anyone else because they have an athletic identity. When you take that away it's like ripping half the petals out of flower. It's going to look weird. It's going to feel empty. It's going to be painful. Covid-19 did that across the board. Every sport was impacted. It didn't matter what season."

The coronavirus shut down sports in mid-March. For high school athletes, it's the first time they're experiencing something like this. 

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"This is a big deal to them because it is actually a really big deal, Brown said. "For kids, this generation doesn’t remember 9/11, so this is it. "This is their big national tragedy. "Just as adults, taking it seriously being sad or having heavy feelings about this, that’s real life."

"As a parent, going to your kid and saying, 'I'm really disappointed I'm not going to see you play, that makes me sad', Brown said. "That’s a great opening."

Where do parents go from there?

"Its sort of two-fold," Brown said. "You grieve what you lost. Managing that is one side, deal with the loss of grief, sadness, processing those feelings. "Then there’s this other planning side. Start to talk about hope and goals."

Brown said engaging with teammates, coaches, or friends through social media can be a big help.

"The thing to remember is everyone is in the same place, the same goes for coaches and programs," Brown said. "If you can’t work on your body, work on your mind."