Early one Monday morning in July, members of the Wofford College football team packed the media room in Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium for conditioning.
This wasn’t lifting weights and running – that came earlier. These exercises were about getting the Terriers mentally ready for the rigors of the season.
Erin Wolfe ’21, who played soccer while at Wofford, stood in the front of the room. Wolfe, who is pursuing master’s degrees in clinical mental health and athletic counseling at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, approached Wofford about leading the program over the summer.
“I’m using my student-athlete background along with my education to teach the football team strategies to improve mental performance and wellness on the field and in the classroom,” Wolfe says.
On this Monday, Wolfe led a session on having confidence in yourself and your teammates and how to keep one bad play from turning into an avalanche. Other sessions focused on leadership, communication, emotion regulation and self-care.
The workshop themes were created based on topics selected by the football team’s leadership council. Wolfe said she drew from her own experience in crafting the bi-weekly sessions.
“I found that there’s a lot of pressure on student-athletes because Wofford is so academically demanding,” Wolfe says. “There wasn’t a lot of help because people didn’t understand the grind. You can’t really understand it until you’re in it.”
Wofford head coach Shawn Watson says the sessions with Wolfe are just another way for the college to invest in its student-athletes.
“We recognize the need to inform our team regarding mental health and well-being, and we also have the responsibility to teach them practical ways to mentally perform at their best,” Watson says. “Erin has done an exceptional job of equipping our players with information and mental tools that will allow them to thrive while being challenged as student-athletes.”
Cade Rice ’25, a quarterback and a finance major from Dayton, Ohio, says the sessions have helped players develop strategies to overcome the common challenges they face.
“People sharing their own experiences and getting to pick their brains a little bit and seeing what everyone else has to say really helps,” Rice says.
Cam Woolery ’24, a defensive lineman and a business economics major from Chicago, Illinois, says Wolfe’s work is giving the Terriers an extra edge as they head into the season.
“It’s already paying dividends in the weight room,” he says. “We just have to practice what we’ve learned daily, get in the habit of building up the tools she’s given us and apply them to the field.”