COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State Department of Athletics has doubled its sport psychology area to now include four full-time staff members who will provide increased access to mental health and performance enhancement services to student-athletes competing in all 36 Buckeye varsity sports.
Dr. Candice Williams and Charron Sumler recently joined the department as new counselors. Their arrival reinforces the commitment the department has to enhancing access for its student-athletes to mental health professionals. Williams and Sumler will be joined by a third new professional in September, Dr. Chelsi Day, and all three will work with Dr. Jamey Houle, the lead sport psychologist for Ohio State athletics.
“Increasing the size of our staff is extremely significant in the area of mental health for our student-athletes,” Houle, an All-American gymnast for Ohio State and the program’s nominee for the 2004 Nissen Emery Award as the top senior in college gymnastics, said. “Our sport psychology and counseling staff will be able to provide more consultation, group work and team presentations, and be more involved in performance team meetings as needed.”
It was merely a coincidence that Williams and Sumler were introduced to their first varsity team on the same day that football head coach Ryan Day spoke of the tragedies in Dayton and El Paso and to the importance of mental health awareness. It was also the day that defensive tackle and Dayton native Robert Landers issued a 90-second condolence video encouraging strength to residents of those cities and to those dealing with mental health issues.
Each was an incredibly important moment. Individually for Day, who has partnered with On Our Sleeves to raise awareness and funds for childhood mental illness while Landers has made public his own personal struggles with mental health issues.
Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and seeking help is a goal of increased student-athlete access to the counselors and professionals.
“We are taking a non-traditional approach by asking our psychologists and counselors to proactively build relationships with our student-athletes,” Doug Calland, associate athletics director for sports performance, said. “Our specialists are going to be at our various venues … at practices and games, in our training rooms and team meetings, and at meals so that our student-athletes see, get to know and build trust with them. We want these relationships to be as common as those that are built with coaches, performance staff and athletic trainers. Our student-athletes need and deserve to feel comfortable reaching out to any of them at any time.”
Fostering relationships through increased access should ease the burden for those feeling the need to consult with a sports psychologist or counselor. Above all else, the last thing anyone dealing with a crisis wants to do is speak to a stranger.
Get to Know: Ohio State’s Sport Psychology Services Team
Jamey Houle, Ph.D ABPP
Lead Sport Psychologist
Houle is a former elite-level athlete, so he has a personal understanding of the needs of athletes. He majored in psychology at Ohio State, where he also was a member of the 2001 NCAA champion gymnastics team and back-to-back Big Ten team champions. He has his master’s degree from Springfield College and earned his Ph.D in counseling psychology from Auburn University. He is certified in counseling psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and he is in his fourth year with Ohio State.
Chelsi Day, Psy.D
Dr. Chelsi Day will join the Ohio State sport psychology services staff in September. She has been the director of counseling and sport psychology at Indiana University for the past three years. Her career resume includes adjunct faculty positions, private practice and the founding of the Columbus Marathon “psyching team” in 2013. She has a doctorate and master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University New England, a master’s in sport and exercise psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Miami University, where she also competed as a diver for the two-time MAC champions.
Charron Sumler, LPC NCC
Sumler, who played four years of collegiate basketball, arrives at Ohio State after spending the past two years at the University of Texas, where she coordinated services and resources for university students in crisis situations. She has 10 years of counseling, leadership and case management experience and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and a master’s in counseling from Texas State University.
Candice Williams, Ph.D LPC NCC
Williams has worked for The Trust (Powered by The NFL Players Association) for the past five years as a program manager in wellness and clinical services. She was a member of the NFLPA Mental Health Crisis Team and provided case management and assistance to retired players in acute mental health distress. Williams has her doctorate in counselor education from Sam Houston State University and a degree in psychology from Texas A&M University.