It’s a special opportunity to grow up with a dad who’s a successful coach at a major Division One University. When your dad also happens to have his PhD in sports psychology, it becomes a rare opportunity to learn and experience firsthand how crucial the mind is in achieving success at the highest level of sports. Emily’s earliest childhood memories involve the athletic facilities and Men’s Basketball Team at the University of Virginia. Her Dad, Tom Perrin, was an Assistant Coach with the Cavaliers for 15 seasons. During his tenure, the program won 297 games while receiving numerous post-season tournament appearances. With his success and unique approach to coaching, it’s easy to see why he is one of Emily’s biggest influences and inspirations. He instilled in her the importance of working on your insight and awareness through practices like journaling or meditation to help look at who you really are. “So many people, coaches and athletes in particular, just don’t do the work to really understand themselves and how their mind works,” Emily said, “The main reason being it’s hard and it’s uncomfortable. To really be our best and to bring our best to the world each day, it’s so important and these are really the things that allow us to reach our full potential.”
As Emily begins to blaze her own trail in teaching Mindfulness as more of an all-encompassing life approach that will assist athletes in the pursuit of their goals, it still carries the same message that her dad used and taught her. There isn’t a difference between an athlete with their jersey on or their jersey off and as a coach you must connect with the person first.
Emily has the ability to empathize with the daily struggles that her athletes go through because she has experienced them herself. Being an elite soccer player at the University of Virginia and an Assistant Coach at the University of Pennsylvania, she has fought her own battles with anxiety, panic, and depression both in sports and life. For a long time, these battles were something that she was ashamed of and hid from the rest of the world, but she has learned it is healthier for her to be open about her experiences and try to help other athletes fight back against their negative mindset. “The life experiences I personally have been through in regard to mental health are pretty scary. I got to a point where I felt like my life’s work was to ultimately make sure that any athlete I come across never experiences what I went through,” Emily said, “I felt like the first way to make sure of that was by talking about my own story. I think there is something so raw and valuable about shared experience.”
These experiences and passion to help athletes be their absolute best selves is the inspiration behind Emily’s new business, Perrin Wellness & Performance. In her playing days, Emily feels that she struggled to find what actually worked for her and there was (and still is) a lack of prioritization in the athlete community regarding Mental Health and Mindfulness. She truly believes that if she had known about these practices and the concept of Mindfulness, she would’ve been a different person, therefore a different athlete. The lack of emphasis on the mind and Mental Health in the culture of sports is a real problem and Emily is dedicated is to help change this by teaching her athletes what she has learned and continues to learn in her own life.
As much as Emily gives to her athletes, she needs three things from them if they are going to reap the benefits of her practices. They must be willing, they must be open, and they must commit to the process. Just like how it takes countless hours of technical and tactical application to work on mastering the craft of your sport, the same process is needed with your brain. You’ll hear Emily tell her athletes, “We have to be willing to commit to our brain the way we do our sport. If you’re not willing, you’re not open. If you don’t commit, you’re not going to go very far.” The athletes that see a difference are the ones who work daily to improve the union of their mind and body, the ones who seek out and find the practices that work for them, and the ones who prioritize their total health and well-being. If you’re not training your brain and proactively addressing your total self, you are the only one stopping you from reaching your full potential.
By Christian Mazzone