By: Simran Sarai, Sports Writer
Becoming serious about pursuing a sport at a collegiate level comes with the constant pressure from coaches, teammates, loved ones, and the athletes themselves to be at the top of their game, 24/7. Between practice, games, recovery, and demands unique to a sport, people often forget that athletes are people with dreams outside of their sport. The Peak reached out to psychology student and men’s hockey forward Kyle Bergh to understand the pressure and predispositions associated with athletic identities.
Bergh said that while he has experienced the performing pressure that comes with being an athlete, “competing at the university level has greatly diffused such pressure,” with how much time the forward spends on school work. Like many college students, Bergh juggles work and school with the responsibilities of life. When asked how he balances it all, Bergh was very honest, saying he doesn’t necessarily have the answer. “As you progress in your work and academic life, the opportunities and demands on your time only increase.” Bergh only commits to something with the intention of giving his “full attention,” and being “fully present.” With this in mind, he can determine what is worthy of his time to ensure he doesn’t bite off more than he can chew.
Beyond being a Red Leaf, Bergh is a “mental performance coach at a Toronto-based sport psychology company named CEP Mindset.” He is a youth hockey coach, and is working on his honors thesis in psychology, “investigating athletes’ perceptions of concussion assessment tools.”
“Sport and school have been vehicles to find out what really matters in my life,” Bergh said, “And that really boils down to learning about myself and how I show up for those around me.” He believes it’s easy to feel one-dimensional when sports demand tunnel vision. Athletes block out anything beyond their sport to stay laser focused on their craft, and their craft only. “We are told to be great, we must be hyper-specialized,” said Bergh.
The student-athlete encourages people who are apprehensive about pursuing a passion outside of their sport to make the first move and find “something meaningful for them.” For Bergh, that was psychology. “Psychology provided a way to take action on the challenges I faced in my life. It was clear that learning about [the] mind could help me be a better athlete and person, so it was a no-brainer (pun intended).”