Phillies put people first with Mental Performance expansion

Philadelphia Phillies spring training (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies spring training (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports) /

During these difficult times amid the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring empathy and emotional support is present in an organization is vitally important. The Philadelphia Phillies took a significant step in this direction Wednesday afternoon, announcing that they are expanding their Mental Performance department.

The move, Phillies Vice President and General Manager Sam Fuld said, is part of their “continued effort to support players and staff throughout all levels of the organization.”

Ceci Craft joins the Mental Performance team from the Indians and U.S. Army.

Ceci Craft will lead the expanded Mental Performance department as its director, joining the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians where she spent six years as its major league mental performance coach. She also previously spent seven years as a mental performance coach for the U.S. Army . In her new role, Craft will work closely with manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff to provide mental performance training for the team’s big-league players.

Craft said that she is “honored” to join the Phillies, and that from talking with Fuld, Girardi, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the organization values the “mental performance aspect of the game and their players’ development in this area.”

“I have seen firsthand the benefits of mental performance training with soldiers and athletes, and I’m excited to work alongside a strong staff that will support the mental performance development of our players at every level,” she said.

Hannah Huesman has been a member of the Phillies for more than 3 years.

Hannah Huesman, who joined the Phillies as its minor-league mental performance coach in January 2018, has been promoted to mental performance coordinator. She has nearly a decade of mental skills experience and will work closely with Craft to execute plans with players and the coaching staff.

Huesman — who has become known for her “Mental Sweat Monday” motivational posts each week — said she is “incredibly excited” for the positive influence Craft will bring to Phillies players, coaches and staff. One of her mentors from afar for the last five years, Huesman said she is grateful for the opportunity to work closely with Craft on both major- and minor-league initiatives.

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Phillies general manager Sam Fuld praises Craft and Huesman

Fuld noted that Craft’s past experiences in both baseball in military will make her “particularly well-suited to optimize mental performance in high-pressure environments,” like the one the team competes in. Also, he said Huesman has established herself as an “invaluable member of the Phillies,” and that the organization is thrilled to promote her.

Fuld continued:

"“Ceci is viewed throughout the industry as a leader in her field, and as we went through the interview process, it became clear why. Her intellect, empathy and enthusiasm immediately stood out to us, and we feel lucky to add her to our team. She and the rest of the department are poised to make a tremendous impact in our organization.Hannah brings energy and commitment to her work in a way that raises the bar for everyone around her, and she has shown a strong ability to collaborate and connect with players and staff alike. We’re eager to see Hannah continue to grow her skillset and influence as she takes on this new, well-earned role.”"

Returning members Manuel Antuna, Frances Cardenas and Geoff Miller will round out the expanded department as mental performance coaches.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has taught everyone important lessons along the way. The ability to manage through difficult times, both on and off the field, is more important than ever for the Phillies.

The organization made an important step in the right direction to ensuring that can happen for its players and staff.

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