Utah professional soccer player steps away from sport to prioritize mental health

Utah professional soccer player steps away from sport to prioritize mental health

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah soccer star decided to step away from the sport after some mental health struggles.

Jeffrey Dewsnup, at just 16 years old, he was known as one of the best goalkeepers in the state and in the country, and signed a contract with Real Salt Lake to play for the Monarchs.

“It’s definitely hard playing pro so young,” he said.

He said the pressure of playing professional soccer so young started to affect his mental health.

“I felt like I did well in those circumstances on the field, but off the field it brought a lot of anxiety and depression,” Dewsnup said.

The anxiety and depression continued to get worse, and in February of last year, he said he had reached a point where he knew he needed to make a change.

“What are the steps that I need to take to be happy because you don’t live long enough,” he said he asked himself.

He decided to quit soccer and focus on the things that brought him joy.

“I found a lot of hope through music,” Dewsnup said.

He said he wrote songs about his struggles off the field. That passion led him to form a band called The Johns.

“Music was the way to soften the blow of soccer,” he said.

He says by speaking and singing about men’s mental health, he hopes it starts to break the stigma.

“Men just need to be vulnerable, because you can only grow if you access the problem. You can’t ignore the problem and expect to grow,” he said.

If you are interested in listening to the music Dewsnup has written, you can find The Johns on any music streaming platform.

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Ayanna Likens

Ayanna Likens is an Emmy award-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.

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