Hi! I wanted to share insight as a current athlete on the team, because I feel like a lot of the allegations have been exaggerated in the media surrounding this investigation. I do acknowledge the experiences that the athletes coming out about this have shared, and I don’t aim to belittle their perspectives in any way.
However, in the time I’ve been on the team so far, and in discussing this topic with teammates, we feel that the issue has been portrayed in an extreme light. I have personally never felt pressured to alter my body composition, even if it has at times been out of the supposed “elite” range.
Our dietitian is incredibly knowledgeable in her work and has our best interests at the forefront. If we willingly choose to do a body comp, she will give us the facts, and that information can be used in whatever which way by the athlete. As someone who previously had an eating disorder that destroyed the vast majority of my high school running career, I know that one’s mind, pressured by environment, societal perceptions, and personality, can twist that information in a negative manner. Yet, our dietitian and the coaches realize that a fueled, healthy athlete is going to outperform an underfueled athlete any day, even if the underfueled athlete has a slightly better body comp. Resources are provided if athletes are struggling, and the coaches are nothing but supportive for such situations.
Our program is not, and never will be, all rainbows and unicorns. Our goals are not to simply celebrate competing, but to win championships. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t take time to enjoy the process and the little moments having fun with teammates. However, sometimes the environment can be intense and that environment is not for everyone. If you choose to come here, you choose to dedicate yourself to the team for 4-6 years. That can feel like a lot. Sometimes it might even feel “toxic” if you look at it with the wrong mindset. But we are all here because we love this sport, we love pushing our limits, we love our teammates, and we love competing at a high level. We make a commitment, we are given the best possible resources, and we are expected to uphold it to the best of our abilities.
I’m all for the push for better mental health resources for collegiate athletes, but like one anonymous athlete mentioned in the article, I think some aspects of this situation have made it more of an “witch-hunt” than actually pushing for meaningful change.