Chicago Sky launches The Net, a mental health initiative


HICAGO (August 3, 2022) — As mental health issues make headlines in sports – and women’s sports in particular – WNBA championship team Chicago Sky is launching “The Net” (A Network of Mental Health Support in Sport), an initiative that makes mental health a priority for athletes. . Created in partnership with Chicago agency OKRP, The Net is an intertwining collection of resources designed to help athletes prioritize their mental health and provide supportive all-court press.

The Net debuts at Chicago Sky’s home game on August 7, with a series of motivational and moving videos from Sky players Azurá Stevens, Rebekah Gardner and Ruthy Hebard. Their individual stories come to life through a set of player trading cards featuring each player on the front in an action plan, while on the reverse is a list of tools to manage mental health such as journaling , mediation, therapy and more. The ‘Keep your head in the game’ mantra is also featured prominently in a t-shirt which will be worn by players and staff during the warm-up, as well as given to fans on match day thanks to the support of sponsor Mesirow, Heaven’s official mental health partner.

“The Chicago Sky is honored to partner with organizations like Mesirow, OKRP and City Year to raise mental health awareness and make a lasting impact in our community,” said Adam Fox, president and CEO of the crew. “Players shouldn’t have to ‘play through the pain’, and we are especially proud of our players: Azurá, Rebekah and Ruthy for sharing their journeys to help the next generation of athletes better prepare to face to mental health problems. This is a big step forward in de-stigmatizing this problem.

The opener will also serve as a backdrop to show how mental health can be prioritized in sport. There will be a ‘moment of gratitude’ led by mental health and wellness coach Dr. Janet Taylor to give players and fans a chance to reflect on the positive times in their lives. Additionally, Sky sports psychologist Patrice Whitfield will sit close to team coaches and strength and conditioning staff to stress that taking care of your head is just as important as taking care of your body.

“For too long, players have been viewed as one-dimensional superstars whose athletic prowess is celebrated and debated,” explained Azurá Stevens, Forward/Center for the Chicago Sky. “But underneath the trash talk and the 3-pointers, a lot of us struggle with the pressure to be perfect, perform perfectly, and do everything with a smile. We hurt ourselves and face the mental challenges of improving ourselves. Sharing these stories makes us human and helps people see how we deal with trauma – and hopefully helps others deal with the same issues.

The Net represents Chicago Sky’s ongoing commitment to serve as a model organization that uplifts the world of female athletes through an environment that normalizes mental health conversations, support and solutions in the arena and beyond. . A website, will provide additional links and support services and organizations, including the NBA’s mental health resource website.

In addition to in-game actions, the team and partners will use social and paid media to share powerful messages to break the mental health stigma. The match on August 7 is just the start, as the Sky will seek to create an extensive network of support and mental health resources for athletes of all ages and abilities.

“Many of us at OKRP have first-hand experience of the devastation that mental health issues can bring,” explained Betsy Ross, client operations manager at OKRP. “Being able to create something with the sky that can further de-stigmatize mental health issues in professional sports and elevate mental self-care at the same time as fitness is so important. Using the power of communication for the good of all is really the reason we are all in this business. »

The Chicago Sky is further supported by City Year, NAMI Chicago Chapter and IDPH.


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