Athletics Special Interest Group
The Athletics Special Interest Group is comprised of Counseling and Psychological Services providers with a shared interest in athletics and sports. Some providers are retired college athletes and others are simply enthusiastic spectators. This special interest group is aware of the unique concerns student-athletes have and is prepared to address those concerns with sensitivity and compassion. The group has an interest in continuing to deepen their collective knowledge about student athletes’ needs and using their clinical skills to provide targeted support to help student-athletes get the most out of their Columbia University experience.
Athletics Special Interest Group Members
Dr. Kwame Akowuah has been an avid sports fan his entire life, with soccer being his first love. He played soccer and ran track in high school, began his enthusiasm for Ivy League athletics while an undergraduate at Princeton, and picked up a bit of squash in medical school. Currently, his relationship with sports is chiefly as a spectator. You can often find him watching National World Soccer League and English Premier League games on TV or attending Gotham FC games in person. He's also made several podcast appearances talking about the United States Women's National Team and the United States Men's National Team. But his appreciation of sports is pretty universal. He's watched cricket in a bar in Australia, stayed up late to watch international rugby, tweeted excitedly about Olympic figure skating, had his heart broken by four straight Buffalo Bills Super Bowl losses, left work early to catch R.A. Dickey's last Mets' home start the year he won the Cy Young and owns multiple New York Liberty t-shirts.
Steven first joined Counseling and Psychological Services in Fall 2021 as a postdoctoral fellow after three years of training in university counseling centers. Through this work, he has developed a strong interest in working with student athletes and enhancing their overall well-being. Steven focuses on helping students with balancing academic and athletic obligations, adjustment concerns, developing resilience, and increasing confidence. Steven believes that valuing and acknowledging all of a student's varied identities is essential to mental health services, especially with student athletes. Outside of the therapy space, Steven loves to exercise, specifically playing tennis, basketball, golf, running, and swimming. He is also an avid New York sports fan.
Dr. Colitz enjoys working with Columbia's student-athletes to improve mental-skills training to enhance performance as well as developing more effective coping strategies to navigate the stressors of being an athlete at Columbia. Over the past nine years, Dr. Colitz has helped students meet their academic, athletic, and personal goals as well as navigate the complexity of the conflicts and dilemmas they face in the sports arena, classroom, and in their personal lives.
As a former college athlete, Michele is aware of the unique challenges faced by student athletes. Michele is particularly interested in working with athletes who are forming their identity both on and off the team, as well as those struggling to find the balance between athlete and student identity. She also treats athletes navigating injury or pain related to their sport, as well as former athletes who left their team due to injury. Michele works from a frame of non-judgment, meeting each individual where they are when they present for counseling services.
David is a former collegiate soccer player and continues to have a strong interest in athletics. As a therapist, he works with students to understand and manage the stressors that individuals face as they seek to balance the many areas of college life. David provides a supportive space where students can work on the skills, personal understanding, and self-growth needed to find success and satisfaction in the college setting.
Dr. Matthews is a psychologist with several decades of experience working with highly-skilled competitive athletes at the Division I level. She says her deep interest and commitment to athletes in part comes from her own experience of being a retired college athlete married to another retired college athlete. This coupled with over 20 years of training and experience has prepared her to provide psychological services to Columbia University Student Athletes. Dr. Matthews has been sought after by athletes, and other students for her experience helping students to manage their general mental health concerns and in helping with some of the issues which can cause distress for athletes in particular such as issues of stress, identity, and time management. She has also been very helpful to students who have needed help managing communication concerns with coaches and other team dynamics. She is aware, experienced, and committed to helping to manage issues related to social justice and diversity. But if you ask Dr. Matthews how to best describe her treatment perspective, she would say she believes that self-compassion is the foundation point upon which wellness is built and she will work to help you to see this as the road to resilience, effectiveness, and overall wellness.
Diana is a bilingual (Spanish/English), bicultural, first-generation college graduate who grew up in a home of avid sports fans and athletes. Although not a college athlete herself, she attended a Big-10 university where she learned more about the world of college athletics and developed a passion for working with athletes. She is interested in working with students who are facing a myriad of concerns including anxiety, adjustment to injuries or role transitions, and personal or team-related interpersonal concerns that inform and affect their academics and performance on and off the field. Diana recognizes the importance of providing each student with support that meets their needs while being respectful of their cultural context and identities, including that of being a college athlete at Columbia.
Ngozi has worked at Columbia Health as a trained psychiatrist for many years. She has developed an interest in working with student-athletes as they try to balance their many responsibilities and interests. She is interested in continuing to deepen her knowledge about the needs of student-athletes and support them as they achieve their goals.
Over the past nineteen years, Dr. Phillips has enjoyed working with Columbia athletes, providing a supportive space for students to work on coping strategies for navigating the stressors of being an athlete at Columbia and balancing athletic and academic demands through a focus on procrastination and time management. In addition, Dr. Phillips has helped student-athletes work on their personal goals and navigate the demands they face in their sports, academic work, and in their personal lives and relationships.
Marcia is a seasoned psychologist with extensive experience in treating young adults with a diverse range of backgrounds and problems. As the mother of varsity college and high school athletes, whose sports include: track, volleyball, swimming, diving, and gymnastics, she is particularly attuned to the joys and frustrations of student athletes. Marcia has experience in treating issues related to general anxiety, performance anxiety, balancing social, academic, and athletics demands, depression, and concerns related to a history of conflict with or mistreatment by coaches.