Distance runner Max McClelland is the Baird Blue & Gold Student-Athlete of the Month for September as chosen by Marquette Athletics' Academics and Student Programs staff. McClelland is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences and bas been a BIG EAST All-Academic Team selection each year at MU.
McClelland has volunteered to lead a peer-support initiative within SHAPE (the student-athlete mental health group, Student Health Allied & Peer Educators), coordinating the newly-formed 'Ready Squad.'
During the BIG EAST Wellness Forum over the summer, schools were challenged to create new ways to support injured student-athletes, not just in physical recovery, but regarding mental health, identity, sense of belonging, and community. A group of SHAPE leaders brainstormed how to best reach out to an injured peer, and the idea they focused on was creating a Ready Squad, who would be on-call right away to help a newly injured student-athlete un-loft their bed, or rearrange their dorm room/apartment so they could safely navigate. This is especially relevant in dorms, where most beds are lofted and someone on crutches cannot get in and out of bed safely.
McClelland immediately stepped forward to lead the 'Ready Squad.' He met with the cross country and track & field teams, and had his co-leader, Zach Granger, meet with men's lacrosse. Though anyone can be on the Ready Squad, they felt having 2-3 guys show up to rearrange the room would be quick and efficient, so Max and Zach focused on talking with their own teams first. As a result, McClelland has a list of 28 student-athletes who would be willing to respond on a same-day basis, to insure an injured peer can safely navigate their own dorm or apartment.
McClelland met with Marquette's Director of Sports Medicine Brandon Yoder
to create the system of communication and go over privacy rules and HIPPA as relevant to understanding someone's injury. McClelland coordinates 2-3 Ready Squad members to help with furniture in that student's room. When the Ready Squad departs, they leave a card with names and contact info of peers who can walk with them to class, or meet them in the dining hall for help with carrying their food trays, or just hang out if the injured student is alone because their team is traveling. Ready Squad gives the injured student access to a group of peers who are available to help in many different ways.
McClelland took on this responsibility because he is passionate about being a man for others and connecting with student-athletes across teams. He is also passionate about mental health and wellness, and the role 'team' can play in helping any individual feel connected to the Marquette Athletics family and to the University.