Mental efficiency coach helps Sewickley Academy athletes practice their brains


Sunday, June 5, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Submitted by Donato Fanelle

Sewickley Academy psychological efficiency coach Donato Fanelle


Donato Fanelle’s purpose as psychological efficiency coach at Sewickley Academy primarily is to work himself out of a job.

“I want you to hone your mental skills to the point to where you no longer need the help,” Fanelle stated. “The benefit of working at a highschool is there’ll all the time be a senior class graduating and a brand new freshman class incoming. Hopefully that offers me some job safety at SA.

“And I say this with full humility: I most likely have the good job on the planet. I get to speak with athletes about sports activities all day and never solely do I get to assist them turn into higher athletes, I get to construct relationships and watch them turn into higher individuals. I’ve been in a position to work with some super athletes and top-notch organizations, and I actually benefit from the number of groups and athletes I work with exterior of SA.

“But I cannot express enough how much I love working at Sewickley Academy. It truly is a privilege, and I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity. The athletic department values the right things. The coaches work hard to establish strong team cultures, and they never sacrifice integrity. And with some big plans the academy has for the future, it’s a really exciting time to be working here.”

Fanelle, 31, is employed by KPEX Consulting and has labored with student-athletes at SA for 3 years.

“I help the student-athletes develop and improve their mental toughness through mental skills training,” Fanelle stated. “By mental skills, we mean things like confidence, focus, composure, motivation, goal setting, visualization, routines, self-talk, leadership and communication. These skills can be trained just like any other skill. Similar to how a strength and conditioning coach helps athletes to train their bodies, I help athletes to train their minds.”

Sewickley Academy’s athletic program has utilized a psychological efficiency coach for 17 years.

“I have witnessed first-hand how effective it is,” athletic director and coach Win Palmer stated. “It is run under the direction of (KPEX Consulting CEO) Dr. Aimee Kimball, who helped the Penguins earn their last two Stanley Cups and was in China helping the U.S. Olympic team. Donato works for her and is contracted to work with our athletes, teams and coaches. I don’t know of any other high school in Western Pennsylvania that has such an arrangement.”

Fanelle stated he’s within the “relationship” and “life lessons” enterprise.

“Building relationships is undoubtedly what I enjoy most about my job,” he stated. “I take loads of pleasure in my work as a result of I do know I’ve a chance and a duty to have a constructive affect on a child’s life. It’s a duty I take severely and a chance that I discover very thrilling.

“Sports teaches so many valuable life lessons, and my work can help kids connect the dots and see how they can apply these lessons to all areas of their lives. It is awesome to see the growth of these student-athletes. It’s a privilege to see what great people they are becoming and I cannot wait to see all the amazing things they will do in the next chapters of their lives.”

Fanelle earned a grasp’s diploma in Sport & Performance Psychology from the University of Denver and his bachelor’s diploma from Rutgers, the place he additionally performed for the boys’s ice hockey staff.

He is a Level 4 USA Hockey CEP and has coached native youth and highschool groups. He labored as a hockey operations volunteer for the Denver school hockey staff, doing pre-scout video evaluation.

Fanelle additionally labored within the University of Denver’s Center for Performance Excellence, the place he consulted with athletes from a variety of sports activities and talent ranges. He has labored with adaptive athletes and has facilitated psychological expertise workshops for coaches, management councils and high-risk occupations.

“I was never the most talented player,” Fanelle stated. “In school, I used to be out and in of the lineup as a freshman, rode the bench as a sophomore and performed a minimal function as a fourth-line grinder as an upperclassman. I used to be consistently looking for any option to contribute and earn a much bigger function, so I took loads of pleasure in excelling on the intangibles.

“I was going to be the hardest worker on the ice, always willing to do whatever the coaches asked of me and gladly make sacrifices for the team and my teammates. But it was tough. I loved the game, but I felt the game never loved me back. My playing career was nothing but a bunch of heartbreaks, disappointments and frustrations.”

Following his school days, Fanelle went from taking part in hockey to mentoring hockey.

“About a year after my playing career was over, I got my first opportunity to coach,” he stated. “Through teaching, I shortly started to see the sport from a distinct perspective than I ever did as a participant and shortly realized that what held me again most all through my profession was my very own psychological sport. It wasn’t that I lacked expertise; I lacked confidence. I actually struggled to maintain my feelings in test on the ice and would simply lose my composure. I used to be so outcome-focused and all the time worrying about issues that had been out of my management as a substitute of specializing in the method and the issues that I can management. I’d consistently overthink the whole lot, dwell on errors and put method an excessive amount of strain on myself.

“This realization of the importance of the mental side sparked an interest in sport psychology.”

Have there been any intriguing success tales at SA you can talk about?

“That’s a really tough question to answer,” Fanelle stated. “First of all, any success these student-athletes get pleasure from will not be due to me. Their success is a results of their work ethic, dedication and dedication. Second, what’s the metric we’re utilizing to find out success? Are we measuring success by trophies, awards, accolades and/or scholarships? If that’s how we’re measuring success, then anybody can simply search for the stats on-line and inform me who has been successful.

“Now don’t get me fallacious, I’m a extremely aggressive particular person. I like to win, and I hate to lose. I all the time need to see these student-athletes succeed. Helping them turn into higher athletes and obtain their objectives is essential to me. But what’s extra vital is to assist them turn into higher individuals which can be nicely ready for all times after highschool.

“The metrics I would use to determine their success are more subjective, and it really has very little to do with their actual performance. I would say the student-athlete that bounces back from a bad game and has a great practice the following day is a success. The student-athlete that takes accountability after making a mistake and shows humility after winning a big game is a success. Student-athletes that approach their academics with the same intensity they approach their sport with are a success.”

Fanelle believes his job is to hone student-athletes’ psychological expertise to the purpose to the place they now not want his assist.

“My training philosophy is based on four core aspects,” he stated. “An individualized strategy, constructing relationships, a scientific/humanistic strategy and process-focused talent constructing.

“But at the end of the day, high school athletics is about the kids, and the student-athletes here at SA are truly special. It’s such a joy to work with them, and I hope to continue working here for a while.”

Tags: Sewickley Academy