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Binghamton soccer player opens up about mental health

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VESTAL (WBNG) - Binghamton women's soccer player Gabby Piontkowski is using her platform as an athlete to open up about her struggles with mental health.

Right before her freshman year, Piontkowski was a diagnosed with a series of blood clots that traveled from her legs to her lungs, keeping her out of soccer for nine months.

"It was like an emotional roller coaster for me because there were so many ups and downs,' said Piontkowski. "Seeing my teammates having fun on the field playing and I couldn't do that, it was hard."

During the fall of her sophomore year, now with a clean bill of health, Pionktkowski was set to begin her college career. She said she was still nervous about making her return.

"I was a very anxious person always thinking about practices the next day and my mind never really shut off," said Piontkowski.

Piontkowski said the state of her mental health put a strain on her first collegiate season.

"I was just finding myself putting way too much pressure on my myself and holding myself to these high standards that really weren't necessary, and I just was not happy at all."

She was unhappy to the point of possibly transferring schools and leaving soccer behind.

"What am I doing? I need to rethink about the way I think about my thoughts and it was ultimately because of the pressure I was putting on myself," said Piontkowski.

Now, Piontkowski wants to use her story to help others. She recently documented her experiences on social media with the goal of helping those struggling with mental health. She said she's gotten a lot of feedback from people who are thankful she shared her story.

"I know I hid my mental health issues so easily and I can't imagine how many other athltes are doing the same thing," said Piontkowski.

Piontkowski is preparing for a new season with a new mindset. She hopes to help others by sharing her story.

"Not put this pressure on myself and have fun along the way, that is what it is going to be," said Piontkowski.

The America East postponed the fall sports season and it is expected to be played the spring semester.

Jacob Seus

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