Louisville athlete creates app aimed at saving lives

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 2:48 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 3:30 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After dealing with tragedy in her sports world, a local athlete is working on an app to give athletes a timeout in life.

Maya McClendon, a former UofL and Arizona State athlete, said she saw what can happen when a player feels like there’s no support.

”When I found out about the death of a teammate ... she died by suicide ... that’s really when it became alarming,” McClendon said.

The Bayan Mental Health facility states 24 percent of college athletes experience depressive symptoms, and 6.3 percent of them suffer from severe depression.

”This is something that generations of athletes have been dealing with,” McClendon said. “And stigma is the biggest reason why there hasn’t been conversation.”

The world watched as superstar athletes Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka decided to put their mental health first during the 2020 Olympics that just ended last month, something UofL volleyball player Anna DeBeer said she hopes changes all games.

”Make it more normal and good in conversation,” DeBeer said. “I feel that will help bring light to the issue.”

To keep everyone in play, McClendon pivoted from medical school to creating the Timeout app.

”Think ahead of time ... what would I possibly need and who would I contact in an emergency situation?” McClendon said. “So when you need to take a timeout, I would have answered that question for myself.”

The app provides support for athletes, by athletes, right in their hands. It includes features and access to nearby resources.

”Keep a smile on your face, don’t complain, bite the bullet,” McClendon said. “These are things I heard from a very young age playing sport.”

McClendon said a turning point is the moment when athletes have to redefine their purpose. They leave or are forced to leave the sport that was supposed to be their life and career.

After a $25,000 grant from the Vogt Awards, McClendon said the app is expected to launch next year.

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