Former professional athletes urge UWS students to focus on mental health – Superior Telegram


SUPERIOR – Former WNBA player Chamique Holdsclaw and former NHL goalkeeper Clint Malarchuk urged University of Wisconsin’s superior students to take care of their mental health and score with their classmates and friends during a lecture on Wednesday, September 21st.

As mental health advocates, Holdsclaw and Malarchuk have traveled across the country sharing their stories and urging people to help each other.

As for Holdsclaw, her fights began when she was just 11 years old and found her father having a schizophrenia. She had to separate from her parents and move in with her grandmother who lived in Brooklyn, New York.

She had a hard time adjusting to the new situation, but found a way to connect through basketball. By playing small games with the guys, I realized how talented she was.

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Former WNBA player and Olympic gold medalist Chamique Holdsclaw addressed the audience at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Wednesday, September 21, when Holdsclaw shared her struggle with depression and talked about how she seeks help and manages her mental health.

Holden Low / UWS

“Basketball became my coping mechanism, and it became like my drug of choice. It’s the thing I’m going to bury in so I don’t stress my dad. I’m going to put all that energy into my craft,” said Holdisklaw.

I did exactly that at Christ the King High School. Her play landed at the University of Tennessee but, “As excited as I was to be there, (after) that first week I wanted to go home.” Holdsclaw said.

It took time, but coach Pat Summit said to her, “Be patient, I’ll let you know that family isn’t just blood; it’s just blood. They’re the people that come into your life,” said Holdisklaw.

The Lady Volunteer has gone on to win three consecutive National Championships.

Once Holdsclaw was drafted first overall to the WNBA, success was trickling down into her, but inside, she was building up. In 2002 her grandmother June passed away.

“I was in my house for several days, just in the dark thinking about how to kill myself.” Holdsclaw said. “…My family has been very supportive, my friends are very supportive of me…If I had talked about these issues I was experiencing, there would have been people helping and supporting me.

“That’s what prompted me to make this call, to use my voice to make a difference… Never be afraid to use your voice. To me, I never understood the power of that,” said Holdisklaw.

Sometimes, she said, all it takes is talking and showing someone you care.

Mallarchuk began his role with the 30-for-30 movie “Cutthroat.” The film explains how Malarchuk became a goalkeeper for the Buffalo Sabers, and how, seven years into his 11-year career, his neck was cut off by an opponent’s skate and he endured post-career battles with suicide.

“I changed my life and I saw in the video, I’m back in 10 days; I was a rock star in Buffalo, NY. They loved me because I was brave, brave, and serious with no talent.” He said it was great, but the following season, his depression “vanished off the charts, and I was doing it on my own.”

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Clint Mallarchuk speaks to students at the University of Wisconsin Superior on Wednesday, September 21.

Holden Low / UWS

Retirement led to a new stage in life as he was training and working as a chiropractor for horses, but “I fell off the horse’s back,” Mallarchuk said.

“I am self-medicating, I am starting to deteriorate, and as you saw in the video … I go behind the barn and pull the trigger,” Marlachuk said as he suffocated the day he attempted suicide. The bullet lodged in his skull.

He said, “Then I learned that God saved me over those who are still suffering.” “The two most important days are the day you were born and the day you know why…I know why I was born: being here talking about suicide and depression.”

In aid in the military, he was taught an acronym, “ACE” – ask your friend, take care of your friend, accompany your friend. By asking and paying attention, people can learn enough to lead their buddies, teammates, or even friends.

Marlachuk and Holdsclaw emphasized that people should use their voices to help each other out in struggles.

“Just check in, people really want to know you care,” Holdklow said.

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Former NHL goalkeeper Clint Mallarchuk, left, stands alongside students as they watch a short video of him on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at Wisconsin Superior University. Malarchuk’s professional career was cut short when a skate cut his neck. He suffered from alcoholism and almost committed suicide.

Holden Low / UWS


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