ROANOKE, Va. – Providing opportunity and exposure--while also tackling mental health. That’s the goal of a unique three day football combine in Roanoke, being put on by Motivate The Game.
“Everything we do is so much bigger than sports, bigger than football,” said Motivate the Game founder Daniel Brooks. “It’s so important for us to provide them the mental skills to recognize, utilize and understand their mental health needs.”
The weekend full of events started Friday evening with a Motvation Session. Players met virtually where they were able to be coached by Dr. Melinda Hill, a neuro-performance specialist who helped the athletes deal with their past and the past trauma and issues mentally (neurokinesis). Gabriel Villareal, a licensed professional counselor and an ADHD specialist, taught athletes how to manage their emotions and deal with focusing. Marcus Dixon, an assistant defensive line coach from the Los Angeles Rams, also talked to athletes about his personal experience and how to stay motivated to keep striving to the top.
On Saturday, the athletes hit the field at Rivers Edge Sports Complex where they participated in combine skills and drills.
These athletes represented schools from across our area-- William Fleming, Glenvar, Salem, Bassett, Magna Vista, and more-- and even a few from Maryland. Motivate the Game also teamed up with “Mac-Fit” to provide laser timed drills such as 40-yard dash times and more. But as founder Daniel Brooks explains, addressing the mental health aspect is priority one so that athletics can then be a breakthrough-- not a distraction-- from dealing with mental health issues.
“Healing is a process, healing isn’t a destination. So we try to go on that journey with these athletes and help them get support, get connected, come through our training program to get motivation support and mental health support as they go through it,” Brooks said.
“And once they go back to their field and they’ve dealt with and worked on those things mentally, now football can be what it’s supposed to be-- fun, energetic, be an outlet.