Support Group Puts Athletes Back in the Game

April 17, 1998

The University of Rochester Department of Sports Recreation and University Sports Medicine are teaming to offer a free support group for injured high school and college athletes to help them cope with the physical and psychological stress of their injuries. The group is known as Athletes Helping Athletes/ L.E.A.P. which stands for "Linking, Empowerment, Attitude and Performance." Led by a physical therapist and collegiate coach, the support group will meet on five consecutive Wednesday evenings from April 23 to May 22. Sessions will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Alumni Gymnasium's Hale Room at the University of Rochester.

Over the five-week session, as many as 15 athletes will share their experiences, feelings and expectations of their recovery process, with each session focusing on a common theme. Separate sessions will be provided for parents.

Conducting the program are Gretchen Bush, assistant field hockey coach at the University of Rochester and a masters degree in counseling and human development at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education and Human Development, and Alan Peppard, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer with University Sports Medicine.

"Traditional sports medicine concentrates on the physical injury, but may not provide for the psychological needs of the injured athlete," Peppard said. "For many athletes, their sense of self-esteem and self-worth is inextricably linked to their ability to perform athletically and it can be devastating if they are temporarily injured or permanently out of the game. They can suffer a sense of loss and even grief." Support groups provide a safe, confidential environment with professional guidance from specialists in rheumatism, cancer and bereavement.

To register for L.E.A.P., contact Gretchen Bush at the University of Rochester Department of Sports and Recreation at (716) 729-2932, or by e-mail (gretchen@sports.rochester.edu).

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Teri D'Agostino
(585) 275-3676
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