Embracing The Grind, the second book in a trilogy co-authored by The Goalie Guild founder Justin Goldman and former NHL goalie coach Mike Valley, is published. The book sheds light on the unique mental and emotional demands of a pro goaltender through powerful, candid interviews with Scott Darling, Jimmy Howard, Evgeni Nabokov and many more.
The book was a successful encore to The Power Within, and as more stories about NHL goalies (like Clint Malarchuk and Corey Hirsch) battling disorders were published, it proved that a mental health resource specifically designed for the goalie community was needed.
While writing his books, Goldman developed a kinship with the members of a Danish metal band called Shylmagoghnar. Centered around this idea of a person lifting an emotional mask to reveal who they truly are, their deep conversations led to the emergence of Lift The Mask.
JAN. 31, 2018
In honor of the 2018 #BellLetsTalk campaign, Goldman shared his rudimentary sketch of a "Lift The Mask" initiative on social media along with this message:
"As we all know, from anxiety to OCD, goalies face an onslaught of mental health issues. Our books help many athletes cope with some of these issues, but now we're ready to actively advocate mental health for goalies through a new initiative called Lift The Mask. No matter who you are or what you're dealing with on or off the ice, please know we're always here to talk and always ready to listen."
This was the genesis moment for the movement. From there, the mission became crystal clear: Help goalies of all ages lift the mask by normalizing conversations about mental health and by providing them with access to mentors, resources, consultants, and professional care.
FEB. 27, 2018
In order to establish a program under The Goalie Guild's non-profit foundation, a national partner would be needed. After doing tons of research on the top mental health programs in the USA, Goldman turned to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
The ADAA was not only an enthusiastic supporter of this new program, they were willing partners. This connection instantly created a direct link between the goalie community and professional mental health care. Highlighted by this story on the ADAA website introducing the Lift The Mask initiative, it was only a matter of time before the full program would launch.
Nearly six months later, Goldman had raised the funding and organized the operational guidelines needed to begin offering financial support for goalies in need of professional care.
SEPT. 14, 2018
One day after The Athletic publishes Robin Lehner's incredible story about his brave battle with addiction, Lift The Mask formally launches. The goalie community now had a direct path to take in order to get financial support for professional mental health care.
Along with the full launch came a beautiful new logo, thanks to the generous work by designer Andy Hall from Tortoiseshell Black. Based on an iconic image of Jacques Plante lifting the first mask to be worn in an NHL game, the time had come for the program to spread its wings.
Once the program took flight, a wave of stories from goalies, coaches, and parents filled the foundation's office. While many were merely reaching out to lend support, the important conversations and advocacy taking place between partners and sponsors quickly grew.
JAN. 19, 2019
Just over four months after the program's formal launch, a pair of new partnerships would emerge. It started with the Center for Performance Excellence (CPEX), which is run by the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver.
This partnership brought a new level of support to the goalie community, both locally and nationally. In person or through virtual sessions, CPEX Consultants were now available to connect one-on-one with a goalie looking for help with their mental game.
The other partnership was with a foundation called We're All A Little Crazy. Run by Eric Kussin and Theo Fleury, this global alliance of mental health advocates brought another terrific platform for goalies to open up, share their stories, and become advocates in their community.
THE HERO IN YOU
FEB. 6, 2019
Nobody knew it at the time, but a few months before Goldman posted that first sketch on social media, he had re-connected with Valley. Together, they agreed to study under a Shaolin Temple descendant named Herman Siu in order to write the final piece of the book trilogy.
It was the most unlikely twist that brought the three together, but the end result was the true keystone for the trilogy. With some emerging concepts on human consciousness and science to help reveal the true power of the mind, Herman's wisdom had been shared with the world.
Nearly 16 months after the learning journey with Siu started, The Hero In You was finally published. With another book project in the rear-view mirror, Goldman's deeper understanding of mental performance would bring more resources to Lift The Mask.
PANEL NUMBER ONE
MAY 29, 2019
The second-annual Global Goaltending Retreat plays host to the first-ever Lift The Mask Discussion Panel, which featured guest speakers and program Ambassadors like Ben Meisner, #SameHere founder Eric Kussin, Kelsey Neumann, Ted Monnich, and Liam Cavanagh.
The discussion marked an important moment in the evolution of Lift The Mask, as nearly 17 countries were represented in the group of coaches that worked together in Breckenridge, CO. This would create an even stronger alliance that reached a truly global scale.
After the retreat, it was apparent that the program would need a place to live and grow. That's when fundraising started for a new website that would make it even easier and more effective for goalies to get help with their mental health and their mental skill development.
THE NEXT STEP
JAN. 31, 2020
Exactly two years after Lift The Mask first took tangible form, the program's first website goes live. The day prior, Goldman was a special guest on the InGoal Radio podcast in order to discuss the program's mission and how it tied in with the 2018 and 2020 #BellLetsTalk days.
This new website brings everything related to the initiative under one roof. From the popular helmet stickers to a plethora of resources and stories of triumph over trauma, the program now has a strong foundation from which to grow.
With so many more stories to tell and so many more educational resources to share, anyone in the goalie community can join the movement to eliminate the stigmas and barriers around mental health, mental performance, and overall wellness.