New QHS program checks athletes’ mental health
AD Conversations: Last in a series
QUINCY (WGEM) - As a former Quincy High School cross country and track coach, Matt McClelland knows the importance of an athlete’s physical health.
But now as the Blue Devils’ athletic director, he wants to know about their mental health as well.
And developing a system to compile that sort of information has been a top offseason priority for McClelland, who is starting his second year as athletic director at QHS. So as the 2022-23 athletic season kicks into high gear, McClelland is putting the final touches on a questionnaire for all QHS athletes.
“At the end of each sports’ season, we want to get feedback from each student athlete to get a read on their social and emotional state,” McClelland explained. “Sometimes kids in athletics are so hard on themselves and put too much pressure on themselves and try to live up to such a high standard.
“We want them to know that in athletics sometimes there will be failure and that’s how you learn.”
McClelland says information gathered from the questionnaires can be compiled and used to design athletic success programs. Some of the information can also shed light about student-athletes, who have had their seasons disrupted the the pandemic the past three years.
McClelland said a new football building and track were the most recent improvements at Flinn Stadium in 2019. Now, the next major project is replacing the turf field.
“We are collecting quotes on that project,” McClelland said, adding that he was uncertain about a project timeline.
He also said the softball and baseball fields also need replacing.
McClelland, who is starting his second year as AD, is happy to return most of the coaching staff. The lone exception is he is looking for a varsity baseball coach.
“It’s absolutely a positive to have a stable coaching staff, McClelland said. “For me, it is important to have that consistency.”
The enrollment situation at Rock Island Alleman had been a concern for the other seven members of the Western Big Six Conference but McClelland said the school has told the conference it believes it has stopped the bleeding and plans on moving forward.
McClelland also says there is no talk of any conference expansion.
“Right now, we are good with eight teams,” McClelland said.
McClelland, like his counterpart Bill Connell at Quincy Notre Dame, said one of the major challenges facing athletic directors in West-Central Illinois is finding officials.
“It’s really becoming a problem, especially for the lower level teams,” McClelland said. “We definitely need more young people to become involved in officiating.”
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