Meet Humboldt

Grace Kasberger (’24, Kinesiology)

Being on the road, keeping up their grades, and competing can take a toll on student-athletes’ mental health. Grace Kasberger, a rising star in Cal Poly Humboldt’s Track & Field program and 2022 California College Athletics Association heptathlon champion, is helping change the conversation. Kasberger is the president of the local branch of Dam Worth It Co., a nonprofit dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities.

Arne Jacboson standing in front of solar panels

Finding Her Passion

“When I realized I wanted to go into a career that involved athletics, I got a ton of support from my coach Sarah Ingram and others at Humboldt. They helped me explore future possibilities and connect with people on those career paths. I love being here and being a part of this school. I love the culture here; everyone is so welcoming.”

Time and Self-Knowledge

“I try to fit in self-care, which helps with my mental health and to stay as relaxed as possible with all of my extracurriculars. Not only am I on the road almost every weekend for track, I also work two jobs. I have definitely built a lot of resilience with academics and athletics.”

‘It’s OK to Not be OK’

“Dam Worth It started at Oregon State in 2017. Two student athletes started it after losing their teammates to suicide—they realized there wasn’t a lot of mental health support for athletes who were struggling. Cal Poly Humboldt now has a branch. We attend athletic games and bring awareness to mental health and allow student athletes to know it’s okay to not be okay.”

Pressure and Performance

“Student athletes struggle with pressure to perform well. We’ve made it to such a high level that when we fail to perform at our best, we feel like we’ve let down our coach, our team, and our spectators. Student athletes struggle with performing in the classroom as well. We’re often on the road and strive to maintain a fairly high grade point average.”

The Bigger Conversation

“There’s a growing awareness of mental health because a lot of professional athletes are talking about their struggle. Athletes talk about the injuries they have on the outside. We don’t talk about the injuries in our head. I have felt safe talking about my mental status with my coach, Sarah, and she does a great job directing me to the help and resources I need. ”

Grit of a Champion

“The heptathlon is seven events: a 200-meter dash, 800-meter run, a long jump, high jump, shot put, javelin, and hurdles. That’s considered one event during the track meet. It’s a very, very tough event that takes mental toughness and grit. I feel it in my body, but it’s definitely worth it. It helps me remember that I’m strong and I’m powerful and I can do lots of different things.”