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Q+A with Hadara Katarski: Championing Student-Athlete Well-Being

Updated: May 17

Join us for an insightful Q&A session with Hadara Katarski, the Director of Student-Athlete Well-Being at Seton Hill University. Learn about her journey, experiences, and invaluable insights into supporting student-athletes' mental health and wellness.


Q: What’s your name and where are you from?

Hadara Katarski: I’m Hadara Katarski, originally from Claremont, California, currently residing in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.


Q: How long have you been at Seton Hill University, your role there and what did you do before?

Hadara Katarski: I've been at Seton Hill for almost 9 years, initially as an adjunct professor in Sport Psychology, Sociology of Sport, and Freshman Seminar. About 2.5 years ago, I transitioned into the role of Director of Student-Athlete Well-Being. Before that, I was teaching sports psychology at a nearby university and was a collegiate head cross country and track coach.


When my husband accepted the position as the head women’s basketball coach at Seton Hill University in 2013, our first daughter was only 4 weeks old, so I left coaching to focus on raising our children, with the plan of returning to college athletics and utilizing my master's degree in Sport Psychology and passion for mental performance skills and wellness. I am a certified Master's Health and Wellness Coach.


Q: What is something about Seton Hill that you want people to know?

Hadara Katarski: Seton Hill is a close-knit community that prioritizes student-athlete health and wellness.


Q: How has the transition into college athletics been? And what has been the best thing another support staff role has done to make your job easier? Can you give an actual example?

Hadara Katarski: I have worked in college athletics most of my career, so it’s what I know, but I did have to transition back to full-time work after raising children.  Although it felt smooth and natural for the most part, it can be hard to gain respect and trust after being away for an extended period. 


The flexibility and trust of our administrators have made all the difference!  Branching out into the student affairs world, alongside athletics, has been wonderful and they have all been so supportive.  



Q: How do you advocate for yourself in sometimes such an isolated role?

Hadara Katarski: Fortunately, I have full support from my supervisors, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with student-athletes from various backgrounds and teams, which reduces the feeling of isolation.


Q: What would you say is the hardest part about supporting an entire college athletic program? And what would you advise other peers in your position who are solo providers in athletics?

Hadara Katarski: Reaching all teams and athletes can be challenging. Having coaches' buy-in and encouragement is crucial. I advise peers in similar roles to accept that it's a long-term journey that will grow and evolve over time. We will continue to reach and impact more individuals and teams.  


Q: How have technology systems such as the Zone helped you do your job?

Hadara Katarski: It’s another tool we can provide student-athletes to help them navigate their journey.  Their schedules are busy and some are uncomfortable talking to staff, so we can encourage them to use the app in addition to all of the services we offer.  



Q: What is something about this role that has surprised you?

Hadara Katarski: In a relatively short amount of time, we have been able to begin changing the culture surrounding student-athletes' mental health and wellness.  So many student-athletes have embraced and committed to improving their wellness and mental health.  Word of mouth is also extremely powerful.  It only takes one student-athlete experiencing success and greater overall well-being, to open the door for so many others. 


Q: What do you wish athletes knew about your work that they currently don't?

Hadara Katarski: We know it’s not easy to ask for help!  Mental skills coaching is informal, non-clinical, and a safe space for all student-athletes.  We work with multiple other departments and refer to additional support staff and resources when needed.  


As a former student-athlete, I’m a fairly open book, as I believe it helps the student-athlete be able to relate, feel more comfortable, and be vulnerable.  My experience, both positive and negative, as a student-athlete and as a coach,  propelled me into this world.  I am extremely passionate about helping college athletes be their best selves…in sports, in the classroom, and in life.




Q: How do you prioritize your well-being?

Hadara Katarski: Exercise is a must for me—I still run and sometimes compete. It's been a lifelong practice that keeps me mentally, physically, and emotionally balanced. I also prioritize healthy eating and sleep whenever possible.

 


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