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Maddy Holleran Book — Whisper Running | Sport Psychology

Dear families,

I hope you are well rested after a Saturday Christmas and are looking forward to a new year!

As Winter Training approaches, you may already know that we have some great topics lined up for Saturday Seminars.  On Saturday, February 12, a panel of Sports Medicine specialists will be talking with the team about the most influential aspects of healthy performance – Nutrition, Sleep, and Social Media.  The latter topic, Social Media, is something we adults have learned to adjust to starting in our middle-ages years (middle-age to where we are now).  Our children, however, come out of the womb with a phone in their face followed by an instant post to the most popular social media forum(s).  Phones, technology, and social media, for better or worse, are very much a part of our lives, and the D.O.s of OHSU will be speaking to this specific topic.

Before February 12, I will be distributing a book to every middle school and high school runner at Winter Training, along with an assignment.  The book is called What Made Maddy Run, which is centered on the tragic death of a premier runner for the University of Pennsylvania.  The book discusses the typical student-athlete experience during the latter portions of high school and first year of college, highlighting the emotional rigors that some students/runners endure seemingly alone – depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and suicide.  As parents, we see so much potential in our children – we see the big picture – while our kids are immersed in their own heightened expectations of trying to simply survive.

The author, Kate Fagan, does a remarkable job discussing the impact/influence of social media, burn-out, and emotional fatigue.  Her writing allows us to feel empathy and compassion to Maddy’s fate, and though the reader is left with more questions than answers, this is often the case with suicide.

The assignment I plan to distribute will highlight the chapters on social media and mental health, and ultimately, compassion and empathy – not necessarily towards Maddy, although that will likely happen, but toward each person in the room, as we each have our own battles, as small or large as they may be. 

These are not foreign concepts or topics to me; these are topics discussed in my Health 101 classes at Clark College, and I am excited to open the doors of discussions with the team, even to a small degree – this will not be a therapy session, but rather, a discussion around their homework assignment, while acknowledging the emotional, intellectual, and social weight that is often carried by student-athletes.

If all goes well, What Made Maddy Run, along with the homework assignment, will be distributed on Saturday, January 22, just after our first project – creating a Vision Board. 

Elementary-aged runners will receive a different assignment for obvious reasons.

If you prefer that your child not receive the book, then I ask that you first purchase and read the book before emailing me with that request.  Though I do not expect Ryan Norton of OHSU to touch on suicide, he will be discussing social media’s influence on emotional health, and I believe this book and assignment will be to their benefit if read prior to February 12.

Again, only registered runners will be receiving this book and have access to the meeting on February 12, so if you have not registered your child yet, please know that will you receive 10% off the full Winter Training registration if done before December 31.  Payment plans are fine, just let me know.

Thank you for reading.


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