Being a collegiate student-athlete is a position many envy...
Between the awards and the attention, being a student-athlete brings quite a few benefits.
But behind-the-scenes, there can be just as much pain as there is pleasure.
"We’re drilled into our head that we represent the university, that everything we do, we’re like the face of the university, you can’t be yourself basically. I know I felt like that a lot. Even after coming here, I felt like it was my responsibility to be someone else."
That was from former Penn State and LSU Gymnast Lauren Li. If there's anyone who knows about how difficult being a student-athlete can be, it's her...
Li has spent her entire life as a gymnast. When it came time for her to go to college she chose to enroll in Penn State as one of their gymnasts. What she didn't expect was to become one of multiple gymnasts who would experience emotional abuse from former Head Coach Jeff Thompson. He would later resign amidst emotional abuse allegations.
“The coaches were pretty verbally-abusive," Li said. "t was all just negative, negative, negative. They just kept bashing, bashing, bashing. "There was a lot of body shaming.”
After leaving Penn State, Li transferred to LSU as a Junior. She says the decision helped her cope with her mental health.
“After I left Penn State, I came to LSU and the coaches here were great, they wanted to know everything that was up with me and they recommended that I see the sports psychologist here and so I did," Li said. "I met with the sports psychologist 2-3 times a week and that was really helpful for me in terms of getting over that hump that I grew up with."