BOISE, Idaho — Student-athletes at Boise State started the Bronco Bold initiative in the fall of 2019.
This program's goal was to break the stigma of mental health, bring awareness to mental health, and cultivate resiliency in the community.
Fast forward a year later, this program gave student-athletes an outlet to talk about the challenges created by the pandemic that canceled seasons and made life more difficult.
"Every day, it was hard to wake up," said Kennedi Paul, who plays soccer at Boise State. "But I feel the way I got through it was surrounding myself with people who were going through the same thing."
The reigning Mountain West champs in soccer didn't have the opportunity to play this fall, but Kennedi Paul tells us the team still practiced, and they were able to communicate, but that went well beyond the soccer team.
"I've had more people reach out than I could have ever imagined," said Paul, one of the Bronco Bold initiative's leaders.
Stephanie Donaldson is a psychologist and the Director of Athletic Performance at Boise State, she tells us the athletes were able to focus on a few different coping methods when life slowed down and moved into a virtual format.
"I think we have more awareness not only in the athletics but in the world in general," said Donaldson. "We focus so much on our physical health, and we are just starting to realize the mental health complications."
Some of those coping methods included a focus on deep breathing, journaling and adult paint by numbers.
In addition, the student-athletes were able to communicate with each other in a virtual format.
"A part of athletics is knowing how to pivot at a moment's notice, to be resilient," said Donaldson. "This was a challenge unlike any other, but for the most part, it has been a chance to hit pause. It really highlighted the importance of mental health and well-being."
Moving forward, Bronco Bold will continue to connect student-athletes with different resources to succeed on the field and in life.
"It's been amazing, and it just makes me want to tell people to talk about it and not be afraid," said Paul. "I've seen how much it has done for people. It's been cool."