The other coach "SOCIAL WORKER"

My name is Natalie Graves and I have been interested in sports since I was a young girl. Watching sporting events was something I did with my father, mother and younger brother. Living in Chicago, the Bears and the Bulls were very important to my family. I remember fondly cheering for Walter Payton and Michael Jordan as they did something unbelievable in the game. We would scream and give each other high fives in celebration of a good play. These are wonderful memories of my childhood. Being a sports fan has always been a part of my life growing up and as an adult it still is.

Another big part of my life is my career in social work. I have always loved helping people and the field of social work allows me to do just that. I have worked for over ten years with at risk children and adolescents in social services agencies. I also worked as a certified School Social Worker in elementary and junior high schools. I am currently consulting with parents, schools and social service agencies, while studying for my clinical license exam. I am also in the process of developing a private practice working with athletes and sports programs.

My theoretical point of view is based on the Biopsychosocial Perspective. This is a multidimensional framework which focuses on three basic dimensions, biophysical, psychological and social. Each dimension deals with a part of human development and behavior. This concept suggests that no one element is the sole cause or reason for a person or in this case an athlete's behavioral response. Instead, human behavior is the result of interactions between a person and his or her environment. To give an example - An athlete is stellar on the hockey field and he is emotionally and physically abusive towards his girlfriend. The social worker would look at the athlete's early development, psychological functioning and family supports and dynamics to address the issue.

For many years I wanted to integrate my two loves, social work and sports. When I began to take notice of some athletes and the problems they were facing off the field, I began thinking here is a population that could benefit from the support of mental health services. I am writing this blog to discuss topics and issues as it relates to sports athletes from a social work perspective.


  1. Hi Natalie, what's your take on the Penn State drama? Whatever the outcome from the fall-out, it will forever change Higher Ed, collegiate sports, and mandated reporting.


  2. Hi Dr.T.

    My take on the Penn State Scandal is outrage! I am speaking from a social worker and sports fan. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered for me. For starters, who else knew? and Why are they still on the Penn State’s coaching staff? Passing the buck and turning a blind eye to what was going on seemed to be the thing to do. Also there appears to be is more care for “Joe Pa” than the young victims. Joe Paterno’s lengthy tenure should not have out ranked his moral reasonability to keep children safe. I find the lack of follow- up by the witnesses equally as disturbing. You are right collegiate sports will never be the same especially as it relates to how much power football coaches have. I will express more in my next post about this very topic.
    Please become a follower of this blog to get updates on my postings and keep the comments coming. Thanks

  3. Anyone that knew what was going on has to be fired. College sports will never be the same because parents will be less likely to entrust coaches with the care if their children. The recruiting process has been forever changed.

  4. Outstanding work, I’m excited about your blog, I have many thoughts and ides surrounding this topic of Social Worker and the need for “US” to provide therapeutic services for our student athletes, on all levels: High School, College and Professional Athletes…….let’s keep it going, I’m overjoyed


  5. I applaud your desire to specialize in an area where I suspect there is great need - so much money, power, and fame ride on the backs of these athletes - who is their advocate? Good luck with your endeavors!


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