APPLE Team Attends Health Conference


Samantha Weber, Editor in chief

From March 17-19, members of the Mercyhurst community were fortunate enough to attend the APPLE Institute conference where they talked about the importance of mental and physical health on college campuses.
The APPLE Training Institutes are funded by the NCAA and were started and coordinated by the University of Virginia’s Gordie Center in 1991.
Each APPLE team is required to have two student-athletes on it. The members of the Mercyhurst community who attended were Sue Sweeney, Assistant Athletic Director of Health and wellness, who was recently promoted to Director of Campus Health and Well-being and will be taking that over during the summer, Stacey Gaudette, Associate Director of Athletics, Senior woman administrator, Katie Neely, Leadership and Outreach Coordinator/Intramurals Coordinator, Madalynn Ward, junior criminal justice major with a minor in psychology and Emerson Polkowski, freshman elementary and special education major. Ward plays on the volleyball team and Polkowski plays on the field hockey team.
Ward said,” I volunteered to go because I am an advocate for mental health as well as education on substance use/abuse.”
Some of the slices of APPLE that were covered by various speakers and workshops include recruitment practices, expectations & attitudes, education, policies, drug testing, accountability and referral & counseling.
Neely described one of the sessions they attended at the conference, “We attended a mindfulness session and the presenters had us sit in our chairs eyes closed and with our thoughts for less than 5 minutes, and everyone in the room, administrators, student-athletes, could feel a difference in their mindset. We were more at peace and not as stressed.” She concluded with learning to apply these little tools throughout one’s day can make a huge difference in one’s health.
Neely’s favorite part of the conference was seeing how excited and invested the two student-athletes were in bringing what they learned back to their fellow students on campus.
Sweeney echoed this, “That student-athletes across the country are very engaged in the health and wellness conversations on their campuses.”
“I was able to learn valuable information about substance use and mental health that can be applied to both my role in athletics and daily life,” said Ward
Talking about what she is hopeful for post-conference, Sweeney said, “We created an action plan to develop a student-athlete mentor program focused on supporting first-year and transfer student success in the areas of academics, wellbeing, and campus life.”
Neely said, “We hope to have students be the best version of themselves here at MU. To achieve that, we hope to provide educational programs that provide students with the right vocabulary when it comes to mental health and well-being.”
Neely wants to promote the use of the counseling center on campus for students as it is a great resource for them.
“Every individual will struggle with mental and physical health at some point, so if students can learn and develop healthy coping skills early in college, this will be beneficial to not just athletes, but everyone on campus,” said Ward.
The conference was an overall success as everyone was able to learn new tools that they will bring back with them to campus. Ward also won the social media challenge for the DII student social media contest and Gaudette won the DII administrator social media contest.