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Making Art is Therapeutic for Athletes

Feature Stories 

by Joan Crane, EdD.

      Our body’s health is a beautiful balance of physical and mental well-being. Art making can distract the mind from the many challenges athletes may confront.  Not only does art making help with overcoming sports injuries and troubles, but can help improve an athlete’s game, relieve stresses, and build confidence and self-esteem! For example, Rosy Grier, a professional football player was committed to the creation of needlepoint to help him relax and improve his outlook before a football match. Consider Rosy doing needlepoint as a stretch for his mind before performing on the field,

   Art making as healing is not a new concept. Though there are other types of expressive therapies (such as the performing arts), expressive art therapy typically uses more traditional forms of art, such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, or a variety of other types of visual art expression. According to the International Art Therapy Organization, the general definition of Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy Art therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative process, especially the affective properties of the different art materials.  Art Therapy Alliance states, “Art therapy has provided mental health treatment for clients who have experienced trauma, grief & loss, depression, chronic illness, substance abuse, and more”.  
   Art Therapy Can Help:
Decrease pain
Decrease anxiety
Improve coping skills
Provide an opportunity for self-expression
Enhance self esteem
Promote relaxation
Provide a sense of choice and control
Improve attention span
Assist with rehabilitation

      Cathy Malchiodi, in her book Expressive Therapies explains, the purpose of art therapy is to improve or maintain mental health and emotional well-being. Art therapy generally utilizes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and other forms of visual art expression. For that reason art therapists are trained to recognize the nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are communicated within the creative process, symbols and metaphors which might be difficult to express in words or in other modalities (Malchiodi, 2005). Art making is seen as an opportunity to express oneself and can lead to personal gratification, emotional healing, and transformation. Anyone can benefit from art making, it does not depend upon talent or technical ability. There are benefits from simply using the arts as a creative outlet in one’s life, regardless of whether you are seeing an art therapist or not. Art therapy can be found in non-clinical settings, such as in art studios, private lessons, and in workshops that focus on creativity development.
       I’m passionate about promoting the benefits of creating art as therapy through social media, education, research and partner projects. Currently, I volunteer at the children’s hospital and a community center for physically and mentally challenged adults. At the hospital, my mission is to work to support patients and their families to cope with the challenges of parenting their sick child, and the siblings who are often scared or lonely as they too try to understand and cope. Delivering art making at hospitals provides an excellent component of their pediatric care while at the hospital. At both locations I assist the artists in creating art as therapy.  As an art instructor at Suncoast Art Academy, I see the immediate benefits of art creating. While artists become absorbed in an art project, I hear them explain how therapeutic and calming painting a picture is to them.
       If you are interested in art making for sports wellness, there are many professional artists in your community that can provide creative instruction. Initiating your own art making and development is another way you can incorporate this health benefits into your routine.

 

 

Rise Raises Local Lacrosse Competitiveness

NFL great Rosy Grier used needlepoint to calm him during his playing days

By Mike Hastings

BSW Staff


Every once in a while, you come across someone who just exudes enthusiasm and excitement for what they’re doing in life.  Brian Masterson is a perfect example.

Masterson is the founder and owner of Rise Lacrosse, a company that organizes and runs instructional lacrosse leagues, including the one playing at the field house at Boost FitClub.

“I eat, sleep and breathe lacrosse,” Masterson exclaimed.  

His organization works with nearly 700 kids across Nashville, including nearly 100 here in Bellevue.

“We are very lucky to have a facility like Boost.” Masterson said.

“It’s state-of-the-art and enables people like me to execute our dreams,” he said.

Masterson’s dream of working in lacrosse began years ago.

“My lacrosse experience is extensive,” he said.

“I was very fortunate to play in college and then get into coaching,” he added.

Masterson played at Queen’s University of Charleston.  After graduation, he took a job coaching at LeMoyne College near Syracuse, NY, a perennial lacrosse powerhouse.

One summer, to supplement his income, he became part of a instructional clinic that visited Nashville.  It was his first introduction to the city, and the idea of coaching outside the university.

“I always thought the college route would be my calling,” Masterson explained.  “Then I came here for a clinic and afterwards met with a local lacrosse store owner.  He said he’d never seen instruction like that,” he continued.

“He told me that the game wasn’t growing here in the south, that it was stagnant,” Masterson said, adding the store owner thought that more instruction like he just saw could help change that.

“I had no business background - I had to Google how to start one, but I knew Nashville was it.  Lacrosse would explode and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

So Masterson sold one of his father’s cars for $4,000 and that was his seed money. He organized his company and brought that same competitive fire he used on the lacrosse field to the business arena.

Today, that dream has grown.  Rise Lacrosse has seven coaches, a COO and a board of directors.

“This is a very competitive sport and can take you to great places,” Masterson said.

“I can see that competitiveness in the kids that come to us,” he said.

“You don’t have to motivate kids like you do in a classroom.  They are eager to be here,” he said.

Masterson came up with the idea of developmental leagues, rather than clinics to keep that enthusiasm going.

“You learn better how to drive a car in the driver’s seat,” he explained.

“These league’s are something I’ve never seen before.  We divide kids into teams, give them a college name with jerseys and have them compete,” Masterson said.

“But we have a specific emphasis for the day, whether it’s defense or ball movement, and our coaches are out on the field, stopping play, putting the kids in the right positions, and giving them positive re-enforcement” he said.

“I don’t believe in yelling at the kids,” Masterson added.  “It’s a positive environment.  We know the kids will emulate everything we do, so we’re very conscious of how we act,” he said.

Masterson said the response he has seen in the kids has “been awesome.”

“They’re killing it.  They are playing at a much higher level than other kids in Tennessee,” he said.

Masterson is quick to explain these are not rec leagues.

“Sixth to 8th graders don’t need a rec league, they need to learn and grow.  We are teaching them,” he said.

“We want to prepare these kids for college. There’s a huge difference in the sport up north where it’s a much bigger sport.  We want our kids to be ready for that, to have the same fire and passions for the game,” He said.

“Our love and passion for the game shines through us.  Parents tell me their kids don’t want to put down their sticks - I know I never did,” Masterson said.

It’s contagious!