The worlds of mental health and women’s basketball are not always addressed in the same arena. Over the last few years basketball superstar Chamique Holdsclaw has worked to change that. From forums on college campuses to now a revealing documentary, Holdsclaw opens up about her journey living with depression and bipolar disorder. “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw” by two-time Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Rick Goldsmith takes us on her path of extreme highs and life-changing lows.
Anyone who is a fan of basketball knows that on the court Holdsclaw was a force to be reckoned with. She left an undeniable mark on the game as a college player at the University of Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summitt. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA draft, Holdsclaw was touted as a remarkable player with skills likened to Michael Jordan. The documentary explores the pride that comes with being arguably the best player in the game and the challenges with unparalleled success at an early age.
As Holdsclaw’s journey unfolds on-screen, it’s clear that this is a story that’s not often told. From the film we learn about the support systems Holdsclaw has created and the community she’s developed from sharing a story that is too frequently pushed to the sidelines. She tells Tagg it’s sometimes easy for someone to feel as though they are alone in dealing with the issues they face. “As soon as I opened up my mouth and [said] this is what I struggle with, I realized other people are going through the same thing,” says Holdsclaw.
The creation of community extends beyond the world of sports for Holdsclaw. As described in the documentary the six-time WNBA All-Star had a way of playing the game that was all her own. Coaches and trainers remarked that she transformed basketball into an art. We asked Holdsclaw if she’s connected with artists and creatives around the topic of mental health. She describes projects and friends she’s opened up to who have created pieces that are centered around the experiences of people dealing with mental health issues.
“It’s something that we always talk about because a lot of creative individuals really struggle with this illness,” said Holdsclaw. “A lot times it’s like, ‘oh my god,’ it sparks such amazing things and you’re afraid to get it under control because you think it’s going to take away your creativity. It’s definitely a conversation I have with a lot of my creative friends.”
Through the story of this Olympic gold medalist we see an intersection of identities that shows us the complexities of professional sports, creativity, blackness, queerness and womanhood. Who we see as an advocate for mental health is expanded and represents communities that are often left out of the conversation.
With respect to the queer community Holdsclaw offers that “We have to invest in making sure mentally that we are staying afloat and if we need to go talk to somebody then we need to do that. So many of our young people, especially in the community, are taking their lives because they are not accepted or don’t feel that they have that support.”
Beyond basketball Holdsclaw has found her purpose in mental health advocacy. She hopes that whoever watches the documentary will come away feeling inspired and motivated to keep moving along on their journey.
“I think this story will definitely inspire anyone going through the same thing or anyone that has a family member or friend that is struggling with mental health issues,” said Holdsclaw.
“Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw” is a must-see documentary that airs on LOGO TV Tuesday, May 3. The network’s documentary series showcases relevant social issues and highlights the untold stories of people in the LGBTQ community overcoming incredible odds.
Listen to Tagg Nation’s Podcast Interview w/ Chamique Holdsclaw: