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Lauren Mackay: Why I Became a Campus Captain

As The Hidden Opponent kicks off the July 2024 Campus Captains application cycle, a few of our current and former Campus Captains share their experience in the program!

Lauren riding a bike

First up is Lauren Mackay, who competed in triathlon for a season at North Central College before stepping away from sports and transferring to Dalhousie University in Canada. Her interest in mental health advocacy grew from balancing athletics and academics, particularly after multiple concussions. These experiences underscored the need for mental health support for student-athletes, inspiring her to advocate for better resources and awareness.

Why did you join the Campus Captain program?

I joined the Campus Captain program to contribute to mental health dialogue on campus and support fellow student-athletes. I wanted to use my experiences to help others navigate the pressures of collegiate sports and academics while promoting mental health awareness and resources.

What has been your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part of the program has been connecting with like-minded individuals who share a passion for mental health advocacy. Collaborating with other Campus Captains and learning from their experiences has enriched my understanding of the diverse challenges faced by student-athletes.

Can you elaborate on some activities or events you participated in or hosted this year with THO?

This year, I attended a “Learning How to Love Yourself” workshop led by Dr. Madeline Barlow, Director of Programming at The Hidden Opponent, highlighting the importance of self-love and mental well-being. I also participated in a panel on performance anxiety with Emily Cisternino and Alex Wulbecker-Smith, where they shared strategies to combat performance anxiety. These sessions provided valuable insights, enhancing my understanding of mental health challenges faced by student-athletes.

Lauren and friends at an event

What has been your biggest accomplishment as a Campus Captain? What positive changes have you seen on your campus through the program?

My biggest accomplishment as a Campus Captain has been collaborating with The Hidden Opponent community to gain support for a concussion care initiative I was working on. Engaging with the organization and hearing the stories of many Campus Captains was incredibly impactful. This experience not only strengthened my initiative but also fostered a greater sense of community and awareness about mental health and concussion care on campus.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the CC program?

The biggest takeaway from the program has been the importance of community and support. Being part of a network that prioritizes mental health has reinforced my belief in the power of collective action and the difference it can make in addressing mental health challenges in sports.

What advice or recommendations do you have for athletes who are interested in applying to the program?

I recommend that athletes interested in the program embrace the opportunity to share their stories and listen to others. It’s a platform for growth, learning, and making a meaningful impact on campus. Be open, empathetic, and ready to contribute to a supportive community focused on mental health advocacy.

Lauren running



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