Doubleheader Dominance on Mental Health Awareness Day


Center Josh Maxwell

On a special night in January, the Penn State Harrisburg men’s and women’s basketball teams raised awareness for two things; mental health, and the Lions’ dominant play on the court.

The Capital Union Building was ablaze with buckets last Friday as both basketball teams scored dominant victories over conference rival Wells. It wasn’t just any ordinary double-header, though, because these matchups were marked as Mental Health Awareness Games by the school’s athletic department. 

Student athlete Josh Maxwell was at the forefront of the effort. The Harrisburg center helped create t-shirts emblazoned with “Mental Health Awareness” that were distributed for fans and players alike to wear during the game. The Student Activity Fund paid for the project as a way to raise awareness for mental health problems and promote the Counseling and Psychological Center at Penn State Harrisburg. 

For Maxwell, this issue is personal. The inspiration for the event came when talking to his fellow student-athletes about mental health for an internship project last semester, but he’s also seen friends experiencing mental breakdowns as early as high school.

“It’s hard being one hundred percent, both on the court and off the court. I wanted to give appreciation to anyone struggling and encourage people to embrace mental health. Don’t be afraid of it.”

Maxwell’s effort wasn’t the only highlight of the day, however. The men’s basketball team put together an impressive 79-63 victory over conference rival Wells Express, a United East team based in New York. Guard Nate Curry was the star of the show, putting together a double-double and a career-high 29 points to lead the way for Penn State. Despite the performance, however, Curry was quick to give all the credit to everyone else on the court.

“It’s not just me out there, it’s a team game,” Curry said about his career night. “I really just feed off my teammates, take what the defense gives me, and let the game come to me.”

Head coach Don Friday commended his team for playing excellent basketball in every facet of the game from lock-down defense to efficient shooting. However, it was teamwork and selfless cooperation that he says was the biggest key to victory.

“On the defensive side, we identified their key scorers, kept them out of the paint, and worked together to limit them to one and done,” Friday said. “Our ball movement was exceptional, too, and when we share the ball like that, we’re hard to guard.”

While the men’s team came out with a solid team victory, it was somewhat overshadowed by what the women’s team accomplished. Led by guard Jayla Galbreath’s 11 points, the Lady Lions beat the Wells women’s team by a final score of 70-14, the largest victory for Penn State Harrisburg against Wells in over a decade. Galbreath attributed the victory to the team’s mental toughness and staying focused throughout the game.

“We executed our plays really well today. We know that each game has to be the same mentality, and we can’t be lazy or lackadaisical in our mindset. This was a great game for us to focus on what we do best.”

Head Coach Patrick Ross agreed, but he emphasized that the work isn’t done.

“We’re blessed with a great group of young ladies who know what the vision is and what the long-term goal is. That long-term goal is the conference championship. We’ve held each other accountable and stayed positive through this stretch.”

  As the games reached their conclusions, Maxwell looked back on the day and said that he has happy with the conversation he’s helped create around the school. From fans sporting his mental health shirts to students using on-campus counseling services, he believes that things are moving in a positive direction.

“I’ve brought more awareness to this campus,” Maxwell said. “Coaches are talking to players, and more people are bringing it up. Not just athletes, but other students, too. Whenever you’re embracing something on the court or off the court, go after it and see what happens next.”

When asked what advice he would offer those struggling with mental health issues, Maxwell said he would simply encourage everyone to live in the present.

“Take life day by day, minute by minute, hour by hour,” Maxwell advised. “There are a million things to do in the day, and there are a million things to worry about, too, but instead of worrying about what you’re doing in the next day or so, focus on what you’re doing right now. We’re all wired differently, so figure out what makes you happy and focus on that.” 

For mental health assistance, visit the Counseling and Psychological Center at Penn State Harrisburg by going to For the upcoming Penn State Harrisburg basketball schedule, visit