Michaela Kovacs | Spartans All-Access | Michigan State Women’s Soccer


(light instrumental music) – Try your best to find
someone, something, to at least express your emotions and you know, just talk about it. ‘Cause keeping everything
in is not the answer, and I know a lot of
people, they don’t wanna bring their problems on other people. My dad had that problem
with keeping everything in and just always making
it seem like he was okay, just so he didn’t bring
his issues on other people ’cause maybe he thought
that was not their part to be dealing with issues that he had. And eventually, when you
hold all these things in and nobody’s able to tell, it’s gonna be very hard for you to get through it. You have to really go out and seek help, as hard as it may be. Keeping it in is, I’d say, one of the worst things
you could do for it. – There’s a whole host of
reasons that would indicate that someone might wanna seek
help or something’s going on. Anything that might be
different for somebody that just seems out of place or they just don’t feel like
themselves for some reason I think that’s usually a first good sign, that gut feeling that something’s off is something we usually
need to pay attention to. – I grew up in Grand Rapids but I grew up in a small town called Hudsonville. As far as family as, I
have divorced parents so I have two step
sisters, one step brother, a half brother, and then one real sister. So, a really large family. And then my mom is like my hero, she’s at every single one, taking pictures or yelling at me from the stands. They all have been super supportive. – [Announcer] It’s Carlson,
Carlson drives the ball across (crowd screaming)
diving header! And a goal, by Michaela Kovacs, the captain!
– Before MSU, I played for Midwest United, I had some time in the
National Team camps as well, and then during the summer time, even while here at MSU, I played in a lot of summer league teams and every single team I’ve
played for the in the summer time we’ve competed in National Championship. I always had something, like my mother would tell you
that since like high school, something was always a little bit off. I remember my freshman
year of high school, just coming home almost
every day after school crying about like, I have no
friends, no one likes me, but like that same year, I got
elected to homecoming court, like I had so many friends. And like, so many friends
around me who love me. I knew it was there, but
when I got to college, obviously that’s a big change, so, it just kinda hit harder, like the feeling of no one
around me wants me here. It just kinda hits harder
when you get to a new place where you don’t know anybody and you’re not around that familiarity. I would, for sure say it was depression, I was diagnosed with it my freshman year, after I kinda had a situation
that didn’t go super well. (peaceful music) You’re away from home, you are around new people, you’re going through a
whole new soccer program with new coaches and everything, everything’s different, and so, it’s kinda like
an on-going stacking of things that just come all together and kinda hit you in the face (laughs). When you’re practicing
or when you’re in a game, around your teammates, you’re
thinking about solely soccer, but as far as the other aspects
of being a student athlete, having to go to meetings,
having to go to homework, you had a negative
outlook on so many things. Could feel myself just, close up. Things were starting
to affect my mood more. And I would just be like, why am I here? Why am I doing this? I just want to go home. I just want to lay in my bed. I just don’t want to be here. – Somebody on the outside
looking in would say, wow look at her, you know,
she’s here at Michigan State, she’s playing on a scholarship, you know, she’s a great player, you know, people look up to her, but
yet, she didn’t see that. The two didn’t go together, so it was just kinda
hard as a mom, saying, you know, look at all you have, look what you can do,
look what you’ve done. She literally hit rock-bottom, you know, attempting to self-harm herself, and you know, called me just crying, and uncontrollably crying, and something that
normally she doesn’t do. Unless she’s spiraled. Got in the car, I remember
it was Superbowl Sunday, it was like during the
game, I’m like, oh my gosh. So I got in the car, drove down here, and then was with her. I called and got a hold of Tammy, and who’s just been incredible. Tammy and Stacy, like
they’re such great coaches, great people, and we just got together, we sat down and we just
talked about, you know, they are there for her as well as, that she needs to open
up and kinda tell people when she’s starting to
feel, these feelings. – [Tom] See what you can do. All right, let’s see if you got it! Here we go, play! – Here we go State! – We commended her for being just so proud to be able to reach out. I think that there’s a
trust within our program, and it starts with Tom and
he kind of infiltrates it all the way down to say
on a good situation, or maybe on a tough day, you have to know we have
an open door policy, that you can come to us forever. Right? And everyone loves to hear that, but I think until you’re faced with maybe havin’ a tough time, not really knowing what she has
to try to persevere through, what she tries to have
to like take on herself, or truly having the bra–, being courageous and asking for help. When she made that step,
because she’s such a tough kid, we embraced her and we just said, “Thank you for being so honest,” and that we’ll take that steps with you, whatever that might be. In our Spartan family, if you need us, we’re gonna find a way to be there for ya. Even if we don’t have
the answers immediately, she’s a fixer, she goes in and dominates. So again, so probably to
her, she probably wanted to fix it herself first, but we commended her for coming to us. And because I do believe
it does take courage, and that’s not easy to do, and then again, once you come to and kinda open up that door, everyone wants immediate answers, and sometimes that’s also
the learning process. You might not get those
answers immediately, but to know you have the
support, no matter what. I think that lets her exhale and know that she’s loved and cared for. (quiet introspective music) – All my best friends knew about it, so after the initial step
of kinda like coming out and, hate to say, labeling it, but after it was kinda labeled on you, people are more consciously
aware of what’s going on. And they can just kinda sense, they can sense when you’re feeling down, like, kudos to my friends, they had a lot of strength dealing with just kind of sporadic things
going through my head. (bat cracks baseball) (crowd cheers) – Everyone always sees athletes as people who have everything
going right for them, they’re always, happy, they’re always, you
know, never struggling. For us to just take into account that it might not always be as easy for someone as you might think. Basically, always treat
everyone as if, you know, maybe something is wrong. It’s always to be aware
of what could be going on in someone’s life is very important, and it’s something that I’ve
learned both through Michaela, and family members, and you know you see it in
the professional games now, some people comin’ out
with mental health issues, and now it’s hard to see those and for us to be just aware of those is, I think the most important thing. (crowd cheering) – [Tom] Don’t leave too early! – [Team Member] Dig deep! (crowd cheering) – I definitely see a
difference in her personality now that she’s kinda re-defined goals, trying to find herself within herself and not defined as soccer or
defined as like a student, and tryna go forward from there instead of tryin’ to live up to everybody else’s expectations, I think. And depression isn’t usually
something you can just decide and turn it off, I’m just proud of the
journey that she’s taken and you know, it’s just
great to see her blossom and work through these issues. It’s just been a great progression now that she is where she’s at, that she just wants to try
to be more of role model, and try to just make a difference. – I’m so proud of Michaela,
by showing vulnerability, I truly believe that is
where strength comes from. And to have someone
that is just so dominant on the field, be able to say, hey guess what? Even though I am doing
this, I also need help. That’s what is so easy to rally around. This is the journey we’re
gonna take with her. And we’ll be her shield
if she needs us to, but we can also stand
back and let her soar too. – As a student athlete,
we have such voice, why not talk about it? I’m comfortable. I wanna kinda talk about
it for other people that are feeling it, like it’s not a weakness, like you can still be strong, and you can still do
whatever you want to do. Even though it feels like
a blanket of weight on you, like shouldn’t hold you back. You don’t have to stay weighted down. It’s not something wrong with me. Like, something needs to
be addressed about it. But it’s not like I can’t do things just because I have depression. For me, personally, I’m at the point of my I don’t wanna call it battle,
but just with the thing I have that I’m at the point
where I feel confident that I’m doing well with it. I’m crushing it, it’s not affecting me, but for some people, it
does affect them daily. And I mean, that can
change for me at any point, but a lot of people are going through it. So I think it’s important to talk about. (intense music)

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