As an athlete, your circle of care – from friends to coaches – is extremely important to your physical wellbeing and your mental wellness. TrueSport Athlete Ambassador Abby Raymond had to learn the hard way how to create a strong circle around her at a time when everything seemed bleak. Here, she’s sharing her story of how a tough situation became an opportunity —and how that could only happen with the right support network.
Be careful who you trust
“Do your research,” says Raymond. “Don’t just jump on an opportunity because it looks nice and shiny and fun and new.” She learned this the hard way when she was 14 years old and competing with Team USA as a weightlifter, at which point a family friend offered to sponsor her with their supplement company. “We made it extremely clear that I was in the testing pool so there were certain ingredients that I absolutely couldn’t have in my supplements, and it was extremely important that the supplements were clean,” she recalls. Unfortunately, the supplements were tainted, despite the assurances from the company. She soon tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended from sport.
She still believes that the supplement was unintentionally tainted during manufacturing, but learned a valuable lesson: Even the most well-intentioned people can make mistakes, and as an athlete, you’re the one who has to decide whether you’re willing to take that risk. The same can be true of well-meaning coaches that push training programs that aren’t right for your body or your fitness level. You should always feel comfortable asking for a second opinion, and if an opportunity makes you feel at all uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to say no.
Create a strong out-of-sport support network
For many athletes, you automatically have a community within sport thanks to your teammates or the people you train with in individual sports. But having a community outside of sport is important for all-around development and well-being. Raymond’s out-of-sport community is found in church, but you might find one in a youth center, a non-sport-related school club, or even just by creating stronger ties with family members or other friends.