Athlete Minded: Stories

This podcast consists of the real stories from athletes about the toll athletics takes on the mind and body. We discuss the mental and emotional struggle athletes face, and what we can do about it.
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Athlete Minded: Stories




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Now displaying: May, 2016
May 31, 2016

ESPN Outside the Lines Reporter and Co-author of League of Denial Mark Fainaru-Wada joins us today to discuss concussions and his experiences in investigative journalism.

The book League of Denial is the one that really woke me up to the severity of concussions and what was happening with them.  Growing up, I knew guys who had concussions and knew that it was an issue, but didn't realize the extent of it until this book.  Dr. Bennet Omalu, Dr. Ann McKee, and Chris Nowinski became like celebrities to me.

With Mark, we talk about why he does what he does, and the similarities between the BALCO scandal he reported on with steroids, and the current concussions crisis.  He also talked about what can be done about this.

I highly encourage you to check out his book at 

May 27, 2016

In part 2 of my book Hoop Dreams Fulfilled, I discuss my experiences playing basketball in middle school, and my mindset going in.  I also discuss the transfer to a different school and how it was different.

For more, go to

May 25, 2016

So far in the concussion series, we've heard from three former athletes.  But today, we don't talk to an athlete, we talk to the wife of a former NFL offensive lineman.  I can only imagine what it was like being an offensive lineman in the NFL for 8 seasons, and today we get to hear what it's like for the wife of one of these athletes.

This is illuminating, because what happens in a sport doesn't just affect the one person.  It affects that person's family, friends, and community, who also have to experience the symptoms as well.  

We touch on the NFL, their response to the concussion crisis, and Liz takes us into her story and dealings with the NFL.  Overall, a powerful podcast from a different perspective in athletics.


May 23, 2016

Jay Fraga, founder of The Knockout Project, joins us to discuss his experiences with concussions.

A week before we did this podcast, legendary BMX racer Dave Mirra committed suicide.  He had been open about how he was dealing with concussions, and Dave's death hit me and Jay hard.  Jay was a BMX racer for many years, so it was even particularly hard for him to deal with.

In this episode, Jay talks about the concussions he's had, his inspiration for starting The Knockout Project, and a particular time when he was driving down the road when everything went mentally blank, and he had no idea where he was going or why he was going there.  This episode is an illuminating dive into someone who still experiences concussions symptoms, but who is doing everything he can to help people dealing with this.

For more information, and for extremely powerful articles about athletes who have experienced concussions, go to his website

May 20, 2016

In something new we're going to do, every Friday I'm going to put out a portion of the book I wrote, Hoop Dreams Fulfilled.  I self-published the paperback version last year, and also narrated the full audiobook, which is about 7 hours and 30 minutes long.

So, every Friday, I'll play, starting from the beginning, about 15 minutes of the audiobook.  In the first section, I discuss my journey into playing basketball and the signs I noticed along the way which I felt directed me to the sport.

I would love your feedback of this, and if you are interested in hearing or reading more, just go to

May 18, 2016

In part two of six in our concussion series, we speak with Katherine Snedaker.  Katherine has had multiple concussions over three decades and is the founder and executive director of PINKConcussions. PINKconcussions is a 501c3, non profit charity, whose mission is focus on females challenged by concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from sport, abuse, accidents and/or military service.

As someone who has dealt with concussions as well as breast cancer, it's interesting as she tells the difference between the two, even at one point saying, "Concussions aren't a casserole event."  When she had cancer, her friends would buy and cook her food to last a lifetime, but when dealing with concussions, her community did not know how to respond.  
To find out more about Katherine, and her concussion event for women, go to or for her youth sports concussion site see
May 16, 2016

Alicia Jensen, a former high school soccer player, discusses her experiences with concussions.  Speaking to her, it's sad to hear a person so young have to experience concussion symptoms like headaches and migraines nearly every day.

She recently spoke at the United Nations about concussions, and was the youngest one there.  We think about men who have played for 10 years in the NFL as the only ones who experience post-concussion symptoms, but Alicia shows us that is definitely not the case.

She is now helping women and men deal with concussions so they understand the risks and treatment available.  Some of her writings can be found at

May 11, 2016

On this Mother's Day Special Episode, I talk to my mom, Nancy Hartnett, about the effects of bullying in athletics.

Yes, it's a Mother's Day Special, but she was also a collegiate tennis player at Montclair State and Florida Atlantic University.  She also has been through the current world of sports and seen first-hand the effects of when a coach bullies their players.

We discuss bullying in this episode, but we also talk about what can be done about it.  We also discuss how, 10 years later, the same coach is doing the same things, and nothing or nobody is doing anything about it.  Why?  We determine because nobody wants to put their neck out for the kids.  

We also discuss how the most powerful people at the school are typically the coaches of the sports teams, and why a petition to remove a mentally or emotionally abusive coach wouldn't work, because the families of the athlete don't want their names on that list since it could jeopardize their child's sports career.


May 9, 2016

Today, hockey coach and University of Minnesota adjunct professor Sarah Westall joins us to discuss bullying in athletics.

Sarah has seen athletics from both sides, as a parent and as a coach.  The most powerful statement during this episode was when she said, "Parents will put up with almost anything if they think their kids have a shot."  This is so true, yet unfortunate for the athlete.  Sports has become so serious for young athletes that the pressure they feel is unbelievable.  And when coaches bully their young athletes, some parents will brush it under the rug because they don't want to upset the chances the young athlete may have to play at the next level.

Overall, this episode was interesting because Sarah but a lot of the responsibility on the parents here.  She mentioned they should stop complaining about every little thing, so that when real, important things happen, the coaches and administrators will listen.

Sarah also runs a radio show entitled "Business Game Changers" and you can find it, and more information about her, at

May 3, 2016

Prep school professor in British Columbia Dr. Jennifer Fraser, author of the book Teaching Bullies, joins us today to discuss the prevalence of bullying in athletics, especially with high school athletes.  Her book Teaching Bullies goes into deep detail about how her son and his teammates were bullied by specific coaches when he was playing high school basketball.

Our conversation was powerful and emotional, and it brought back a lot of memories for me.  We didn't just blame people, we talked at a high level about the psychology behind bullying, why it happens, and why nothing is done about it.  One of the most powerful moments came when we talked about why nothing is done, and we came to the conclusion that the administrators who know what is going on don't want to lose their jobs at the school or put their necks out for these kids.  It's shocking and illuminating, but just the nature of athletics we now live in.

Dr. Fraser also wants there to be laws around emotional abuse, and rules for how coaches can get training, but also how they can lose their jobs if horrible behavior continues.  Overall, an amazing and intense discussion.

To learn more about athletes and bullying, and to check out her book, go to Dr. Jennifer Fraser's website at