WNBA Head Coach Walt Hopkins: Why Mental Wellness + Kindness Are Essential

May 30, 2020

Jackie Powell, 21, grew up in Irvington, NY. She currently studies international relations and journalism at the University of Rochester. Jackie hosts her own radio talk show and serves as a columnist at her school newspaper, The Campus Times. Her talk show and columns focus on the intersection of feminism, social justice and sports. She also is working on an investigative report on mishandled campus sexual assault cases. Jackie’s other interests include the Boston Red Sox and anything British.

(Photo taken by Mike Lawrence)

As a master’s student at Cal Berkley, Walt Hopkins passed by a poster in the student study center. As a tutor and a player development coach for the women’s basketball team, his eyes skimmed the sign, and read each of its listed interrogative statements. Was he always exhausted? Yes. And did he feel highly unmotivated? Yes. Once he answered each question internally with a “yes,” Hopkins realized that he needed to start paying attention to his mental health. 

Years later, as the head coach of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, Hopkins sits down with Channel Kindness Radio for a special #MentalHealthMonth themed episode to share his journey understanding his battle with his own mental health issues, the resources that help him every day, and his altruistic approach to self-care. When Hopkins was first introduced as the Liberty’s new head coach earlier this year, he was lauded as someone who leads with positivity and kindness. 

In the competitive arena that is professional sports, is kindness even welcomed? Can it exist when winning is the goal? In this episode, Hopkins also explains that he doesn’t see competitive drive and kindness as offsets, but instead, he sees both qualities as complements of each other.

Check out the full transcript of the conversation which has been edited for clarity.