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Former Ohio State linebacker pursues passion for sport by improving athletes’ mental health

Steve Graef was a former linebacker at Ohio State and has dedicated his career to working with athletes and performers on improving their mental health. Credit: Courtesy of Steve Graef

Steve Graef, former Ohio State linebacker, has dedicated his career to working with athletes on improving their mental health.

Upon graduating in 2004 with a degree in psychology, Graef went on to earn a doctorate of philosophy in counseling psychology. Currently, Graef assists the sports medicine program at Ohio State as a sport psychologist. In 2016, he started his own business, Mindurance, where he works one-on-one with clients in counseling and coaching sessions.

“There’s a mental component to good performance. We would like to be confident in what we’re doing, remain composed under pressure and be able to focus and be concentrated,” Graef said.

Graef didn’t hesitate when the opportunity came to return to Ohio State as a sports psychologist as it had always been his dream job to come back and serve the population he was once part of. Here he helps student athletes with the mental and emotional aspects of maintaining school, sport and life.

Jen Carter, lead sport psychologist at the Sports Medicine Institute, said it has been an honor to work with Graef.

“As a former OSU student athlete himself, Steve totally gets the experience; the striving, commitment, grit and pride of representing Buckeye Nation,” Carter said.

Graef transitioned to a part-time position at Ohio State before opening Mindurance in 2016 and plans to retire in June to have greater flexibility to follow his passions.

“Steve is a world traveler who has a zest for life,” Carter said.

Graef said he brainstormed ways to make a living no matter where he was in the world, which ultimately led to starting his private practice Mindurance.

“It’s essentially a private practice where I do stress management and performance enhancement for individuals completely online,” Graef said. “The majority of what I do is through webcam. I also will give presentations and workshops live to groups of people.”

He said having his own practice and seeing his idea develop has been a rewarding endeavor no matter where he and his clients are in the world. Graef said he works in ways that provide the most convenience to his clients and to himself.

Graef said his initial interest in psychology came from wanting to understand people and their stories.

“I enjoy expanding on the traditional sense of what is an athlete and performer. I’ve had some really interesting work with physicians and business executives in a way that I would normally work with an athlete,” Graef said. “We all kind of perform in life, so I enjoy applying these approaches to a broader audience.”

 

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