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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘It is okay to ask for help’: QU student creates app to help student-athletes with their mental health

Tripp Menhall
Russell Jackson, a senior entrepreneurship and small business management major, helped create the company Fluid Sports Tech to benefit student-athletes’ mental health.

Student-athletes spend thousands of hours in practices, games and training, all while trying to maintain their GPA. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed or not know who to turn to when you’re struggling, especially when you are trying to obtain an unrealistic  image for the team.

In fact, mental health is one of the top reasons why student-athletes move schools. The NCAA reported in transfer years 2020-21 and 2021-22 that 61% of female and 40% of male Division I and Division II student-athletes who transferred said it was for their mental health.

To tackle these issues, Quinnipiac University student Russell Jackson and former Reinhardt University student-athlete Joshua Robbins, joined forces in July 2023 to create Fluid Sports Tech, an app which provides mental-health resources to support student-athletes.

Jackson, a senior entrepreneurship and small business management major, worked on the platform during his entrepreneurship capstone in the fall 2023 semester. Any student-athlete can use the app, but the team does plan on eventually working with colleges to be an extension of the schools’ sports psychologists or mental health departments on campuses.

Jackson and Robbins — who met while working on a former start-up — were inspired by their past experience in baseball to create a space for student-athletes to go to for help. Jackson played baseball until the end of high school and Robbins played until his senior year at Reinhardt University. 

“You’re told growing up by coaches and mentors and other players that baseball is a sport where it’s 90% mental and 10% physical,” Jackson said. “Something we’re looking into, is that like, ‘Yes, if baseball is 90% mental and 10% physical, why do you work only on the physical?’”

Jackson played baseball throughout high school, which inspired him to co-found Fluid Sports Tech. (Aidan Sheedy)

Robbins shared a similar sentiment toward baseball, but he didn’t fully process his emotions until after he graduated.

“I think a lot of (being on a baseball team) is you try and just really suppress a lot of emotions and what’s going on and you just try and deal with it,” Robbins said. “Then afterwards, you’re like, ‘Well why? Why didn’t I just say something? Why didn’t I try and seek resources or seek help?’”

Fluid Sports Tech has 10 people on its team, which includes interns on the marketing and coding side of the project. There is currently a wireframe of the app, which is a model of what will soon be on the app store in the summer. There are 60-70 student-athletes currently using this model, Jackson said.

The app includes articles and videos related to mental health and connects users to sports psychologists and certified mental performance consultants. Jackson said some professionals have agreed to join the platform, but they are still in the process of working out the details.

“​​So our platform looks to incorporate, at some point, hopefully hundreds or thousands of these sports psychologists, so if this athlete isn’t comfortable speaking to that one person on campus because they just don’t connect well … they can go on our application,” Jackson said.

The team is working on starting a podcast that will feature athletes sharing their stories about their mental health. They also plan to have an artificial intelligence bot that will answer questions, such as how to build confidence for a big pitch or exercises to help with public speaking.

The app will operate on a subscription model with a free version that will offer most of the materials but not all of them. Then a $5 per month plan will have the majority of the information and a $9.99 per month plan will include everything.

Mia Johnson, a senior communications and digital studies major at Saint’s Mary’s College of California, is a dancer and marketing intern for Fluid Sports Tech. She is helping the team expand their social media, creating a YouTube channel for the podcast and helping prepare for an undergraduate entrepreneurship competition called e-Fest.

Students across the nation compete to pitch their business ideas at e-Fest. If Fluid Sports Tech makes it to the second round, Johnson and Jackson will be flying to Minnesota to potentially win a portion of $215,000 in cash prizes that they will use to fund the company.

“(Jackson and Robbins) both are very motivated to make this a successful app and podcast and company,” Johnson said. “I can see the drive that they have and making sure that these athletes and coaches are getting the help that they need in order to perform better and in order to stay in the sport (they) are doing without feeling like there’s like a mental block that’s preventing them from doing what they love.”

Jackson, Robbins and Johnson are all striving to give student-athletes the resources they wish they had themselves. The goal of Fluid Sports Tech is to prevent people from having to leave their sport because of mental health issues, but rather be able to get that help they need.

“I know, speaking firsthand, I was pretty shy about bringing up a lot of the stuff that I was going through, but I think just knowing that it is okay to ask for help, it’s not a burden on you,” Robbins said. “It’s not a burden to the team and doesn’t make you any less of a person by asking for help, people ask for help all the time.”

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About the Contributors
Krystal Miller
Krystal Miller, Associate Arts & Life Editor
Tripp Menhall
Tripp Menhall, Creative Director
Aidan Sheedy
Aidan Sheedy, Photography Editor

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    JimmyMar 6, 2024 at 4:36 pm

    This is wonderful and so inspiring I can’t wait to be able to use this app when coaching my middle school and high school students in RI great work gentlemen! Keep striving for greatness