ESPN Grants $100K to Fund Doc Wayne Sport-Based Youth Mental Health Training for Coaches and Clinicians at Youth-Serving Organizations in NY, CA and NC

The Champions Network™ training, focused on teaching fundamental, trauma-informed mental health skills, to support over 100,000 youth in Black and Brown communities


BOSTON (December 8, 2022) – Doc Wayne Youth Services (“Doc Wayne”), a nonprofit innovator and provider of sport-based mental health therapy for youth, today announced that it received a $100,000 grant from ESPN, Inc.’s Return to Play Fund. The fund, which invests in Black and Brown youth who have been most affected by the pandemic, will support mental health training and workshops for coaches and clinicians in New York City, Los Angeles and Charlotte. 


“With trauma-informed training, the coaches will be extremely well positioned to assist in identifying challenges and taking action to help their athletes get the mental health support they need,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president, ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “And the clinicians will have new, innovative sport-based tools to work with these kids that will keep them engaged and coming back.” He concluded, “Given Doc Wayne’s marked success helping young people around the world, we are confident that these sport-based initiatives will have a considerable effect on the long-term mental health outcomes of not only the youth, but their families, and ultimately, their communities as well.”


The in-person training, taking place between January and December of 2023, will be a two-tiered approach with the goal of achieving enduring success. Coach-and-youth-serving organizations will have training and support from Doc Wayne clinicians while continuing to deliver their programming, and one mental health clinic in each city will be trained in sport-based therapy to support the youth referred by the organizations. 


Doc Wayne launched the Champions Network™ in person and remote training programs in 2020 in response to increasing inquiries. Organizations, clinicians, teachers, coaches and other youth development professionals are trained in how to provide trauma-informed, sport-based and equity-focused mental health support. Doc Wayne has trained people and organizations in 25 countries (including conflict zones), impacting over 500,000+ youth thus far.


Two-Tiered Training Program 


Tier 1 – Prevention (For Coaches)


  • Five tenets of trauma-informed care (Safety, Trustworthiness, Choice, Collaboration, Empowerment)
  • Creating safe spaces
  • Warning signs of mental health struggles
  • How to make referrals to a mental health professional


Tier 2 – Intervention (For Clinicians)


  • Addressing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care 
  • Implementing Sport-based group therapy 


“ESPN’s team continues to demonstrate their concern for the youth mental health crisis and their commitment to help address it, especially those in underrepresented communities,” commented David Cohen, CEO of Doc Wayne. “We are incredibly grateful for their support that enables us, and those we train, to reach and help transform the lives of many more youth.”


Doc Wayne fuses sport and therapy to heal and strengthen youth worldwide that face difficulties associated with mental health, chronic trauma, and domestic and community violence. Programs are held in a gym or on a field at schools, community centers and in clinical settings. The approach fosters openness and trust that enables healing, the development of life skills and learning teamwork, with the benefits of physical activity. The work addresses aspects of emotional, behavioral, traumatic, racial, gender, and cultural-based barriers by providing equitable access to better mental health for all.




About Doc Wayne Youth Services

Doc Wayne is an innovator and provider of sport-based mental health therapy for youth. We provide services, tools and training that address emotional, behavioral, traumatic, racial, gender, and cultural-based barriers by providing equitable access to better mental health for all. Our clinician-led curricula puts sport into practice, strengthening social-emotional skills in young learners to build healthier, more resilient global communities. Doc Wayne, headquartered in Boston with an office in Framingham, MA, also has a growing team worldwide. 


About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplift the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to



Heidi Boie