About Anxiety in Athletes

Anxiety in Athletes was developed by the International OCD Foundation and the Mental Health Awareness in Sports special interest group to reduce the negative impact of anxiety and OCD in sports.

Meet the members of the Mental Health Awareness in Sports SIG below!

Tom Smalley, MS, CSCS

Tom Smalley, MS, CSCS is a Lead Advocate for the IOCDF and Co-Founder of “Anxiety in Athletes”. He received his Master’s of Science in Exercise and Sports Science from Merrimack College in North Andover, MA. Smalley is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. In addition, he holds his USAW Level 1 Weightlifting Coaching certification and a Level 1 Coaching certification from Precision Nutrition.

After being diagnosed with OCD in 2014 at the age of 16, Smalley has since been an outspoken advocate for breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly in athletes. Tom was the recipient of the 2019 IOCDF Hero Award, and continues to speak at the Annual OCD Conferences as well as various schools around the country. Smalley has a strong passion for weightlifting and began competing in 2021, 8 years after his mental health forced him to put a halt on his athletic career.

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Kristen Mackel, LCSW

Kristen Mackel, LCSW is the co-founder of The Center for Grit and Growth. For over 15 years, she has provided clinical mental health services to high performing individuals, including NCAA Division 1 athletes, professional athletes, and Olympians. She has expertise treating mood and anxiety disorders, and is listed on the United States Olympic and Paralympic Mental Health registry.

Annie Christman

Annie grew up in southern New Hampshire and competed as a level 10 in the USAG Junior Olympic program before joining the varsity gymnastics team at Brown University. While facing mental health challenges, Annie found solace in other athletes who spoke up about their experiences. Through studying English (nonfiction) and psychology at Brown, she came to appreciate storytelling as a means of healing and connection. When she’s not reading, writing, and rearranging words, she’s likely curating indie-pop/alternative playlists or spending time outside. She is a co-founder of Galea Health.

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Rachel McMahon

Rachel grew up playing volleyball and running track in New York. Since middle school, Rachel has turned to athletics to release stress and cope with mental health challenges outside of athletics. She walked onto the Brown track & field team as a long-jumper her freshman year of college and was a co-captain of the women’s team her senior year. Her own lived experience with mental health challenges and internalized stigma inspired her to seek out ways to support athletes and destigmatize mental health. She concentrated in Global Development and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in 2019. Hobbies include: getting sunburnt and attempting to surf. She is a co-founder of Galea Health.

Katie O'Dunne

Rev. Katie O'Dunne graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory with her master of divinity and certificate of religion & health in May 2015. She has spent the last five years serving as the academy chaplain and the Pauline and R.L. Brand Jr. '35 Chair of Religious Studies at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. There, she seeks to inspire students of various faiths to develop a sense of empathy through respectful, ecumenical dialogue by teaching religious literacy. Katie hopes to develop programs to encourage a deeper understanding of mental illness within diverse religious communities, while fostering positive, collaborative relationships between religious practitioners and mental health providers. She also helps to inspire those struggling to live joyfully, as she seeks to do through running, triathlon, and kitty snuggles.

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Sarah Farris, LCPC

Sarah Farris, LCPC is a licensed therapist in Chicago. She specializes in treating adults with anxiety, OCD and related disorders and has a special interest in mental health and athletics. Sarah’s previous experience includes working in research and university settings. Sarah received a B.S. in Psychology at Roanoke College and an M.A. in Counseling at UTSA. Sarah grew up in New Orleans, LA and began riding horses at the age of 8. She developed a passion for hunter/jumper equestrian sports and during college and graduate school, she worked part-time as a riding instructor and horse trainer. Sarah now enjoys lifting weights and occasionally participates in amateur barbell and kettlebell competitions.

 

Cali Werner, LMSW

Cali Werner, LMSW’s clinical interests focus on OCD, athletes’ repetitive and ritualistic performance inhibiting behaviors, anxiety and performance, and mental health stigma. Cali received her bachelor’s degree from Rice University where she also competed as a Division I collegiate distance runner receiving a national honorable mention in track. Cali received her masters degree in social work with a specialization in OCD from Baylor University. Cali continues to pursue distance running and competed in the Olympic Trials for the marathon in 2020. Her current research of OCD and athletes coincides with her love for running. Cali is dedicated to raising awareness and speaking on behalf of those with mental illness by educating, and providing resources and hope. 

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Jason Von Stietz, PhD

Dr. Jason von Stietz is a licensed psychologist in group practice at CBT Center of Southern California. He specializes in OCD, insomnia, and sport psychology. Aside from his clinical work, he provides team building and mental skills training for collegiate athletes. His previous experience includes a sport psychology fellowship at Whittier College, which was a joint position held in the Counseling Center and Athletic Department. He is the co-chair of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association's Sport Psychology Special Interest Group. He appears on podcasts discussing mental health and sport psychology in relation to TV and film.

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Jeremy Golden, CSCS, RSCC

Jeremy Golden was named the Head Strength and Conditioning for Men’s and Women’s Hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in July of 2022.  Prior to this, he spent three years as the Director of Strength and Conditioning for Women’s Basketball at the University of Virginia. Over the past decade, Golden has worked with various NCAA Division I athletes before arriving in Duluth— he worked as Assistant Director of Athletic Performance at the Univ. of New Mexico and the Director of Sports Performance at Santa Clara University. He also spent six years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Cornell, and one year working with the Friars’ women’s basketball team at Providence College.

Golden also serves as a board member with the NSCA’s Basketball Special Interest Group. When Golden was a junior in college at the Univ. of Tulsa, he played football while earning a B.A in Mass Communication (1999). He then went on to earn an M.S in physical education and sports administration from the University of New Mexico (2003).

Erin Reim

Erin Reim grew up in Montreal, Canada, performing as an elite judo athlete at the North American level in Shiai. She faced significant mental health challenges which caused a retreat from her passion, only to re-emerge in the space of judo kata where she competed at the World Championships four times as a representative of Team Canada. She merges her passion for athletics with her major in psychology at McGill University, fostering a dedication for reduced mental illness stigma, especially among young athletes. She is an advisor to the founders of the Centre of Excellence and Global Basecamp for Youth and Young Adult Mental Health and Wellness.

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About the International OCD Foundation

The mission of the International OCD Foundation is to help everyone affected by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders to live full and productive lives. Our aim is to increase access to effective treatment, end the stigma associated with mental health issues, and foster a community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them. The International OCD Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. Founded in 1986 by a small group of individuals with OCD, the Foundation has grown into an international membership-based organization serving a broad community of individuals with OCD and related disorders, their family members and loved ones, and mental health professionals and researchers around the world. We have affiliates in 25 states and territories in the US, in addition to global partnerships with other OCD organizations and mental health non-profits around the world. To learn more about our resources, visit iocdf.org.

Runner about to start a race
Thomas Smalley Stretching an Athlete
Soccer players kicking a ball