Colleen Kelly Finegan joined the GFS Athletics staff as the Mental Performance Coach, in a year-round capacity, beginning in the fall 2022. This position is a first for the school and the first in the Friends School League. A former prolific collegiate basketball player at the University of Pennsylvania, Coach Kelly Finegan will also bring her expertise to the Tigers as a Middle School Girls Basketball Coach.
Coach Kelly Finegan holds a Master’s Degree in Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership and is founder of the non-profit Positive Coaching and Leadership Group (PCLG). Her approach to mental wellness, particularly with young athletes, is multi-faceted and focused on five modules including visualization, positive self talk, goal-setting, gratitude, journaling, and mindfulness. She will be on campus every afternoon to conduct mental skill building sessions, primarily with the Middle School teams, and will also have office hours to provide guided support for primarily Upper School athletes on an individual basis.
While mental wellness has been a focus on the collegiate and professional levels with mental health practitioners to support their athletes, GFS in partnership with Coach Kelly Finegan believes that it is as important to train your mind as it is your body at a young age. Her mental skills training aims to have a positive effect on participation, self-esteem, and self-concept, as well as reducing anxiety, symptoms of stress, and improving overall athlete well-being. The benefits of improved concentration, regulation of emotions, and a state of flow leads to optimism, Coach Kelly Finegan states, which is critical to improving athletic performance and coping with a sport-related slump.
Coach Kelly Finegan's mental wellness program also includes a unique playbook to assist coaches and parents in providing mental skills training for young athletes. In addition to GFS, Coach Kelly Finegan and PCLG works with AAU teams, schools, and a private sports academy to help strengthen student-athletes' mindsets and improve their overall performance.
Outside of her work, Coach Kelly Finegan is the founding general manager and head basketball coach for AAU Lower Merion Storm. She also coaches and serves as coordinator for the Narberth Girls Basketball Summer League.
Coach Kelly Finegan earned her M.Ed. from the University of Missouri, her M.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas, and her B.S. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, she was a four-year letter winner on the Women's Basketball team and co-captain; a career 1000-point scorer; and the all-time leader in 3-pointers in a game, single season, and career at the time of graduation. Coach Kelly Finegan was an All-Ivy and All-Big 5 selection over several seasons.
"We use mental skills in every aspect of athletics and need to practice them exactly as we would practice basic fundamentals like dribbling, catching and throwing, and sculling, for example. I'm excited to grow this explicit mental skills component of our programming and for it to be accessible for our youngest athletes. With Colleen's expertise and in partnership with our coaches, our athletes will gain confidence in these critical skills early on, be able to practice them repeatedly, and reap the benefits in athletics and beyond. Colleen is so intentional and strong at making the concepts accessible, understandable, and applicable to athletes at all levels," said Director of Athletics Katie Bergstrom Mark.