Fighting Depression

September 7, 2018

Coty Lemon, a defensive lineman for Johnston (Iowa) High School recently came forward about his struggles with depression, and how football has helped him.

According to the Des Moines Register, Lemon, previously a junior at Dallas Center-Grimes Community High School, spoke to Scott Heitland, the school's coach, in December, and mentioned feeling depressed. Lemon also relayed that his grades had fallen.

"Coty deserves credit by coming forward, by saying, 'I can't do this by myself anymore,'" Heitland said.

During the summer, Lemon made the decision to transfer to Johnston for his senior year, so that he could have a fresh start and help his chances of getting into college. He is currently sitting out the first four weeks of the season, as a result of his grades dropping, but hopes to play again and eventually reach the NFL.

"Football has been what's been keeping me going, and it's giving me hope," Lemon said.

Brian Woodley, Johnston's football coach, said that Lemon's grades and personal well-being come first.

"It's more than about just football," Woodley said. "It's getting his diploma, that's step No. 1."

Lemon said that while transferring schools resulted in him having to say goodbye to his friends, he is grateful to his former and current coaches for helping him get help.

"They're all great people and they supported me and understood what the decision was about," Lemon said.

Woodley said athletes should confide in their coach about topics that affect their well being, including ones that don't relate to sports.

"I'm your coach," Woodley said to Lemon. "I'm also your friend."

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