Pioneering Sport Psychology and Empowering Future Champions

Author: Omar Dedovic

Last Updated:

Category: Featured

Hannah Thurley Huesman (‘14), a trailblazing sport psychologist, is rewriting the rules of mental performance and empowering the next generation of athletes.

In the lively neighborhoods of Nashville, Tenn., a young Hannah Huesman discovered her immense passion for sports. This early love, nurtured by family encouragement and sibling rivalry, laid the foundation for an extraordinary journey. “The support of my parents and competing with my brother were crucial in developing my love for sports,” Hannah reminisces.

A blend of athletic prowess and academic curiosity marked Hannah’s collegiate journey at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A rare talent, she lettered in two Division-I sports — basketball and softball. Yet, her career path was unclear until a transformative moment in her senior year. “I took this elective course in the sociology and psychology of sport. It was an ‘a-ha’ moment,” Hannah recalls. The course, taught by Dr. Shewanee Howard-Baptiste, opened her eyes to the intricacies of sports psychology, a field that marries her love for sports with a burgeoning interest in psychology.

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Armed with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science, Hannah pursued her master’s in sport psychology and motor behavior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. This academic pursuit was a steppingstone to a groundbreaking career in sports psychology. Soon after, she landed an internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates and quickly ascended to a full-time role as a mental performance coordinator with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In her role with the Phillies, and later with the 2023 World Series Champions, the Texas Rangers, Hannah emphasized the importance of focusing on the process, not just the outcome. “Instead of worrying about when

you’re going to get to the big leagues, why don’t we focus on how we’re going to get to the big leagues, why don’t we focus on how we’re going to get there?” she advised players. This approach, honed through her experiences as a Mental Performance Coach and Coordinator over seven seasons in professional baseball addresses various aspects of mental performance, such as confidence, concentration and resilience. “I don’t just want you to be confident. I want you to know how to be confident,” she explains, highlighting her personalized approach to coaching.

Hannah Huesman ('14) in Pittsburgh Pirates Outfit.

Hannah’s influence extends beyond the baseball diamond. Her #MentalSweatMonday video series on social media has garnered a significant following, offering insights into mental performance. Even during the pandemic, her commitment to supporting athletes and staff members remained unwavering, adapting to virtual platforms for continuous engagement.

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Hannah’s dedication to sports psychology aligns with her support for the Women’s Impact Fund. Understanding the challenges and opportunities in sports, she advocates for the fund’s mission to support female athletes. “Female athletes deserve every opportunity to showcase their talent. If financial reasons are the only barrier, we’re missing out on supporting them,” she asserts. Her journey exemplifies the transformative impact that support and opportunity can have on individual athletes and the broader field of sports.

Today, living in Richmond, Va., with her husband, Jacob Huesman, son of former head football coach Russ Huesman, former quarterback and tight end coach at UTC, and two golden retrievers, Hannah continues to pave new paths in the field of sport psychology with the company she founded, Mental Sweat, LLC.

“I recently decided to take a huge leap of faith and walk away from a full-time MLB job so that I could start my own private practice, Mental Sweat, LLC.,” states Hannah. “The best part is seeing Mental Performance, something that may typically be reserved for elite level athletes, being taught to all different types of people who all have the same goal: be the best version of themselves.” In her peaceful home, surrounded by the love of her family and pets, she crafts strategies and insights that transform the mental game of athletes across the globe.