John Calipari was overjoyed to hear the names of three of his players called during Wednesday night’s NBA Draft. Once he experienced that emotion, he was overwhelmed by the tears that seemingly every player shared.
After expressing his concern on Twitter, he joined The Paul Finebaum Show to start a dialogue about the mental health of student athletes and how his program is trying to reach out to its players to prevent serious problems from developing.
“Here’s what I took from it and it made me be more alert from my team. Have you ever seen the emotion from players being drafted, including second round picks? I’ve never. Crying. Emotion. And I think they had to wait seven months before they were drafted.
“Can you imagine the anxiety? Can you imagine the thoughts going through a young person’s mind? Well, it brings me back to my own team. All of us better have psychologists, sports psychologists. We better not overlook what our kids are going through mentally,” Calipari said.
Kentucky’s head coach applauds all college athletes for how they’ve persevered throughout this difficult and challenging time. As hard as they’ve fought, the key is to make sure they never feel too overwhelmed.
“I’ve talked to our parents. I talked to the team yesterday. I respect every one of these college players and what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to be. No one in the history of college sports has gone through what these athletes have gone through. The pressure of playing, the anxiety of playing, they’re not mentally — they’re still young people. And then to go through this pandemic. Hats off to them and all my respect. That’s why we have to play — for them! Forget about we need this, we need — these kids need to get on that field and get on that court safely.”
In order to play safely Kentucky has bubbled up in the lodge and they are wearing chips to ensure they’re remaining six feet apart. Additionally, this year they will be limiting their exposure by traveling on the day of games. Kentucky is taking drastic steps to make sure these Wildcats can fulfill their dreams.
“Do you guys really wanna play?” he asked his team Wednesday. “They started throwing balls at me. ‘Are you crazy? Yes we want to play. We want to play tomorrow.'”