‘Coach P’ Shares Her Story on the Big 10 Network to Promote Mental Health Awareness Month
23 May 2023
Former NCAA Division I women’s basketball head coach and APB speaker Joanne “Coach P” McCallie visited the set of Big 10 Network’s Big 10 Today show to share her story of battling bipolar disorder and to promote Mental Health Awareness Month.
One of the most highly decorated female college basketball coaches in the country, McCallie has led teams at Maine, Michigan State and Duke, making National Coach of the Year and winning numerous championships at all three schools. She is the only coach in history to win Coach of the Year in four different conferences and then achieved that five times. And she is the only Division I head coach to lead two different programs to 30-win seasons with three National Championship game appearances.
Despite all of her amazing achievements, McCallie considers advocating for mental health one of her greatest roles yet. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at age 30 while coaching at Maine. It was something she wanted to reveal for decades but was counseled that it would be career suicide and distracting to her teams. Despite her struggles and dark times, she successfully raised a family and continued to triumph in basketball.
In 2021, she decided it was time to talk and became a mental health advocate and speaker, sharing her story to inspire and educate others on how to "win without losing yourself." The result was her bestselling book, Secret Warrior: A Coach and Fighter, On and Off the Court.
Speaking with host Mike Hall, she shared some advice not just for student athletes but also for everyone. “Mental health impairment does not discriminate,” McCallie says. “That’s something to remember.”
McCallie added that keeping in “shape” mentally is something we all should do. “You don’t have to be diagnosed with a brain health issue to learn how to take care of yourself,” she says.
She also reminded the audience that those with mental health issues can be incredibly successful. “I think that helps sometimes when people realize you can do amazing things,” McCallie says. “You can be a coach. You can be a doctor. You can be anything—even if you have brain health issues.”
For the future, the former coach will continue to speak across the country about mental health and leadership. McCallie also draws upon her own personal experiences, triumphs and professional challenges to create her passionate life philosophy of “choice, not chance.” It is her powerful mantra that served as the foundation for the award-winning athletes and competitive teams she built and led—an approach to life that can be applied to everyone at work or home.