August 2023 AOTM: Joshua CopelandAug 01, 2023
Welcome back to TWN’s Athlete of the Month! Each month we are highlighting athletes in our network to share what they have accomplished outside of sports, their contribution to the athletic community, and more! Make sure to check out our socials and weekly newsletter to learn more about the athlete, what motivates them, and how to contribute to their cause.
Our August Athlete of the Month is Joshua Copeland!
Josh is a powerful motivational speaker who helps people maximize their full potential in their careers and in their personal life. He aims to support people to become the best version of themselves.
A native of Fairborn, OH, Josh received a scholarship to play college football for the University of Buffalo. After graduation, he moved back home and had a hard time finding his way. He struggled with depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse while trying to cope with the difficult transition into life after sports.
Because of this experience, he started his company Learning 2 Cope, LLC and has impacted thousands of lives across the country with his message around prioritizing yourself and your mental health. He focuses on helping people understand that success looks different for everyone, and emphasizes the importance of putting yourself first.
Along with his empowering workshops and motivational speeches, Josh also offers training and professional development for businesses. He helps employers connect with their employees and helps bridge the gap between generations to make a healthy work environment for all.
Josh supports people worldwide with foundations and messages that change their perspective. Though he has many powerful messages, we love his motto, “Be selfish, so you can be selfless.”
Over the last few years, he has spoken at many different schools, sports organizations, and businesses to share his message. Josh has been featured in 300+ online publications. He’s also partnered with colleges like Murray State and UMass to speak to their student athletes, and has appeared on top news networks such as ABC News and Fox News.
On his website, Josh highlights his values and shared goals for everyone to see. To sum up his mission and work, he created the acronym COPE. C stands for Creating Your Core Values, O stands for Owning Who You Are, P stands for Putting Yourself First, and E stands for Evolving Into The Authentic You. Through this message, he aims to help all he connects with find their identity and find more ways to succeed and move forward through your struggles.
Josh recently spoke at an event focused on setting boundaries and prioritizing your mental health.
At the event, Josh talked about finding and protecting your peace, and how you never have to explain yourself if you don’t want to or can’t do something. He emphasized the importance of giving yourself a break and scheduling time to work on YOU. And he reminded all of us that just because we’re off work, doesn’t mean we’re available for other people.
“Protect your peace. You don't have to explain to somebody why you can't do something. 'No' is a complete sentence.”
JOSHUA x TACKLE WHAT'S NEXT
We were lucky enough to have Joshua join us on our Mental Health in Athletics panel during Mental Health Awareness month this past May, in partnership with The Hidden Opponent. Alongside fellow current and former athletes, he shared his perspective on mental health, athlete identity and more.
Josh talked a lot about vulnerability and how a lot of people in society, especially athletes, are afraid to be vulnerable because of the misguided stigma of being weak. He explained how people hold onto things they want to release because they feel they could be taken advantage of, when in reality, having a conversation with teammates, friends, or family is important to work through your struggles.
“Being vulnerable is not a weakness. That's one thing that we have a stigma around, that if I’m vulnerable, someone is going to take advantage of me. So we don’t share what we’re going through and in reality, we’re going through a lot that we don’t want to unpack because we don’t want to let people in.”
He also spoke about athlete identity, and how important it is for athletes not to replace who you are for what you do on the field. From Josh’s perspective, it is imperative to make time to develop who you are as a person. If you can’t do that, you won’t be able to face those hurdles down the line, especially when you inevitably have to separate yourself from that athlete identity.
“We’re loved more for what we can do than for who we are. We get lost in who we are because we fall in love with what we can do on the field. A lot of times it comes down to developing who you are as a person by removing the athletic part.”
Thank you Josh for always being willing to share your experiences and insights with others. We love to see him giving us permission to take time for ourselves, and to embrace boundaries to protect our own peace.
OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA COPELAND:
Why did you create your own organization focused around mental health?
I created Learning 2 Cope, LLC in 2017 with the goal of helping people become the best versions of themselves. That starts with being in a good space mentally. Everything starts with your mental health. Being at your best mentally will allow you to be your best within sports, relationships, school, career, etc. I wanted to help people unlock their full potential in every aspect of their life.
What did being an athlete teach you about the work you are doing now?
Being a former athlete is at the core of everything that I do. Every day I use the transferable skills that I learned in sports and apply them in my business. Sports forced me to challenge myself both physically and mentally. I am able to pull from all of these experiences and create impactful workshops and speeches that leave a lasting impact on my audience.
What is the most important thing you did for yourself to start planning for life outside of sports?
The most important thing that I did was get involved in other organizations around the school and campus while I was a student athlete. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, helping others around campus inspired me to get an idea of what I liked to do when I "retired" from sports.
When and how did you decide you were ready to make the transition out of sports?
Like the majority of athletes, I stopped playing sports long before I wanted to. I thought that I would play in the NFL and then retire when I felt like it. After I graduated college and didn't get picked up by the NFL, I had tryouts in the CFL and Arena Football.
The exact moment I knew that I should transition out of sports was about a year after my college graduation. I was in camp for an Area Football team and they had just informed me that I had made the final roster. I went back to my hotel room and I wasn't excited. For the first time in my life, I had lost the love for the game. I didn't want to cheat the game and myself. I knew that it was time to hang them up.
What advice do you have for athletes around moving on from sports to their next chapter?
It is difficult to transition to life after sports. It feels like you have to become a whole different person, and that can be scary. I would advise athletes to give themselves grace as they figure out the next step in life. And I’d remind them not to be so hard on themselves as they navigate this new phase. Lastly, I would tell them to be proud of what they have accomplished in their sport and that they are not a "failure" because they had to move on from playing.
Why is speaking about your mental health journey so important? Any advice for athletes around advocating for themselves and their mental health?
I hope that by sharing my story I can make an impact on athletes all over the world. I want to give them hope, inspiration to never give up and show them that you can pivot in life and be a success at something other than sports. Lastly, I would tell all of the athletes that IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP! Asking for help is not a weakness.
Josh is setting an incredible example for athletes to follow in their own lives, both in and out of the game. We’re proud to highlight hI’m as our August Athlete of the Month.