2X Stanley Cup winner Daniel Carcillo recently announced his Chicago-based company Wesana Health is set to go public next month. The company completed a $4M CAD convertible note raise in January intended to fund research around psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Carcillo was a victim of TBI himself and retired from the NHL in 2015 due to post-concussion syndrome after playing only 429 games at the age of 30. Since leaving the ice he has been outspoken about several topics like sexual abuses in the Canadian Hockey League, concussions and player safety in the NHL, the toxicity of the sports world, and his own mental health.
(shield your eyes Canucks fans)
Carcillo has also been focused on researching and developing natural-sourced neurological treatments based on psychedelics to help with TBI symptoms, claiming mushrooms saved his life by ending his suicidal thinking. He then ventured to Peru to ayahuasca shortly after his hero’s journey psilocybin trip. The man is bought in.
And targeting TBI, Carcillo might be onto something here.
TBI goes far beyond sports. According to the CDC, in the United States in 2014 TBI contributed to 56,800 deaths, and approximately 288,000 hospitalizations. The effects of TBI can include impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).
But sports is a good starting point, it needs a facelift.
Republicans buy sneakers too
It’s more common now than ever for athletes to talk about the once-taboo topic. Big names like Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, DeMar Derozan, and Dak Prescott to name a few have been openly sharing their own struggles with mental health.
The sports world used to be much more closed off, athletes mostly followed reactionary Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s ‘shut up and dribble’ approach to life. Republicans buy sneakers too.
Ingraham isn’t alone in her desire for censorship. Hot take artist Skip Bayless criticized Dallas Cowboy’s QB Dak Prescott for opening up about his own struggles with mental health, and his brother’s suicide. Bayless reasoned that he was ‘the leader of this team’ and ‘that’s not how you inspire others.’ This is the definition of the old guard. Sweep it under the rug and hope it all works out.
After Kyrie Irving took time off for mental health reasons the same ESPN talking heads who speak non-stop about mental health advocacy bashed him relentlessly for weeks calling him irresponsible. An ESPN anchor actually said Irving should retire. I’m looking at you, Stephen A Smith!
The old way of thinking is dying off, it turns out these athletes are in fact human, and because of that we can learn something, and more importantly, we can relate. Bayless was widely chastised by the public, and others in the media for his comments, and Laura Ingraham is…she is making her father proud. Salute!
Cleveland Cavaliers Power Forward Kevin Love talked about having a panic attack mid-game because of suicidal thoughts he had bottled up inside for years. Michael Phelps, owner of 23 gold medals talks openly about having crippling depression and suicidal ideation despite his accolades. This is a man who is on top of the world of his sport, he climbed the highest mountain possible, and yet he is not immune from the painful aspects of the human experience. No one is.
We are all subject to the harsh realities of life, I’m sure even Skip Bayless has emotions from time to time.
Ironically, professional sports teams and athletes will happily spend millions of dollars keeping their top talent in peak physical shape, but the same can’t be said for their minds. Carcillo said in an interview with Sports Illustrated, “There’s no room for introspection, into self-discovery, during your playing career, because nobody gives a s— about that.”
This is unfortunate.
In his groundbreaking book ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience” author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says,
The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
Arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time Phil Jackson was known for integrating Buddhist meditations and Native American rituals into the Chicago Bull’s practices during their 6-title run in the 1990s.
Jackson even said regarding his infamous offensive strategy, “ the triangle offense is aligned perfectly with the values of selflessness and mindful awareness I’d been studying in Zen Buddhism.”
Both Jordan and Kobe refused to play for any coach other than Jackson. Sure, Jackson is a brilliant basketball mind. Any coach with 11 rings is going to have a high basketball IQ – but more importantly, he really seemed to give a fuck about the mentality of his players, like to a whole other level. I believe this is partly what set him apart so much as a coach. He understood the importance of mindfulness to balance out the chaotic nature of a basketball game. Unfortunately, Jackson is in the minority in the sports world.
There isn’t a date set for the Wesana IPO, and no information has been uploaded to SEDAR as of yet, but as an avid sports fan, I will be keeping close attention to this story, and bringing updates when they come.
Carcillo doesn’t appear to have capital markets experience, but if he can surround himself with the right people, which it looks he has, this thing has a lot of potential as there is authenticity baked right into the mission.
Having a name behind the company, someone with 90k Twitter followers is a big advantage. It’s a marketable story, it stands out from the stack of former mining companies shifting to psychedelics. I’m also interested in the potential of others in the sports world also getting involved in Wesana’s cause.
Getting awareness for a new venture is often difficult and timely, but with Carcillo’s background and network, I could see Wesana easily clearing that hurdle.