Lee Announces New Student-Athlete Development Program

Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Cody Finch, McCay Mathis, Megan Smith.
Cody Finch, McCay Mathis, Megan Smith.
With a desire to prepare student athletes to become leaders and champions in all facets of their life, the Lee University Athletic Department is pleased to announce the formation of a new Student-Athlete Development program.

Leading the program will be McCay Mathis, who begins her second year as the Director of Student-Athlete Welfare and Athletic Counseling at Lee. Cody Finch joins her as the Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Development and women's lacrosse assistant coach, Megan Smith will serve as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Administrator.

Mathis serves a vital role for the athletic department as she provides individual mental health counseling to Lee's student-athletes.
In addition to that, she also plans and coordinates the athletic department's Life Skills program and oversees all student-athlete development programming, including the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and LEAD.  She is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Tennessee and South Carolina and is currently working toward the next level of licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Furman University, Masters in Social Work and Graduate Certificate in Drug and Addiction Studies from the University of South Carolina. While at USC she participated in an advanced year internship with the Director of Mental Health for the South Carolina Athletic Department.

Finch will help oversee the LEAD program, which is geared to developing leadership skills for student-athletes both on and off the field, as well as serving the spiritual needs of the department as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative for Lee University. Finch played college football at East Texas Baptist University where he received a degree in communication. He earned a masters degree in Higher Education Administration from Virginia Tech. Finch has a background in student engagement and development while working for the Virginia Tech and Baylor University Athletic Departments and was a former college pastor in the local church, serving at Englewood Baptist Church and First Baptist Cleveland.

Smith will oversee the Lee University SAAC and utilize her experience as a leader both on and off the field, to help inspire and lead this year's representatives. Smith was a standout player for Limestone College from 2011-15 and was a captain her senior year. She helped lead the Saints to four straight Conference Carolinas regular-season titles, three league tournament titles, an appearance in the NCAA D2 Quarterfinals (2013 and 2015) and a berth in the national championship match in 2013. Smith has also been a nationally recognized leader in community service, helping the Lady Flames earn IWLCA Service Award in 2021 and the Community Awareness Award in 2022.

Why is this new program so important? According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, approximately one-in-five adults live with a mental health condition during their lifetime. Collegiate student-athletes face unique risk factors such as pressure to perform athletically and academically, injuries, and lack of resources or development of copings skills as well as other possible triggers of stress. These triggers include missed classes due to off-campus sports competitions, being away from home for the first time, social isolation from students other than their teammates and adapting to constant visibility within their campus and communities. Approximately 30 percent of women and 25 percent of men who are student-athletes report having anxiety, and only 10 percent of all college athletes with known mental health conditions seek care from a mental health professional.

"The vision for Lee Athletics is to develop and graduate champions in their sport, in the classroom, in the community and in their faith. Our professors, coaches, and staff are committed to the holistic development of each student-athlete. While we prioritize winning, we first and foremost prioritize the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our student-athletes" said Associate Athletic Director Jessica McIntyre. "McCay, Cody and Megan have created a program that will prepare and empower our student-athletes for success at Lee and as they pursue life after Lee. I am thrilled to be able to offer this kind of important and timely resource to our student-athletes."

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