Joanne “Coach P” McCallie: de-stigmatizing mental health is an endurance sport

Social Sport

September 13, 2021

Joanne P. McCallie (“Coach P”) is a Mental Health Advocate and Hall of Fame DI basketball coach. With over 600 wins, she has coached at Maine, Michigan State, and Duke, earning National Coach of the Year in 2005. Coach P was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at age 30. After learning how to manage her mental health and continue winning as a coach, she decided to become a mental health advocate and speaker, sharing her story to inspire and educate others on how to “win without losing yourself.” Through Coach P’s high energy speeches and leadership seminars, she engages, educates and inspires organizations with discussions on mental health, sports, faith, and leadership.

Even though Coach P’s past lies in basketball, her recent work is applicable to athletes in all sports. In this episode, like any great coach, she challenges us to think about mental health in unique ways. At the same time, she allows Emma to challenge her and ask difficult questions regarding her tenure in coaching and the accessibility of mental health resources. Her willingness to continue being challenged, while challenging and coaching others, reinforces her forever title: Coach P for Life!

Discussed in this episode:

–Coach P’s decision to keep her diagnosis a secret

–Balancing a high-power career with mental health

–Stepping away from coaching

–Gender disparity in coaching contracts

Duke Fuqua School of Business

Secret Warrior book

–“Mental health impairment” vs “mental illness”

–Effect of athletes speaking more about their mental health (eg. Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles)

–Bipolar disorder misconceptions

–Coach P’s response to allegations of player mistreatment

–“Mental health impairments” and creativity

–Inaccessibility of mental health resources

–Race and ethnicity disparities in mental health resources

Bosch TV series

Ted Lasso TV series

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


–“I’m into life and death now. Before it was wins and losses. This is a whole different ball game.” -Joanne P. McCallie

–“Sport communicates so many items that you can’t communicate in any other place—the inspiration, the work ethic, the talent of it, the craft of it…” -Joanne P. McCallie

–“We’ve got to look for life to be not what it is, but what it can be. What can life be? How good can it be?” -Joanne P. McCallie

–Follow Coach P: Website, Instagram, Twitter

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