Tyler Matzek is a World Champion on the field, and he is a champion in his community for his work and investment in mental health awareness. He has overcome adversity and boasts a remarkable comeback baseball career, but his impact both on the field and off is just beginning.
In 2009, Tyler was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the first round of the MLB Draft, and made his MLB debut in 2014. During the 2015 season, he began to struggle with performance anxiety, and by 2017, Tyler was completely out of baseball. But he never gave up on his dream to get back to the show. With the support and encouragement from his wife, Lauren, and the help of psychologists and mental wellness professionals, Tyler learned how to manage the stress and anxiety that were hindering his performance on the baseball field. After a five-year hiatus from playing in the big leagues, he was signed by the Atlanta Braves and made the club out of Spring Training in 2020.
Since his return to the Major Leagues, Tyler has never forgotten his journey and consistently shows a deep appreciation to fans, on the field and off. He is always looking to do more for his community and use his platform as a World Champion reliever to bring awareness to those who might be struggling. In the offseason last year, Tyler came across a nonprofit focused on helping athletes deal with anxiety and depression called Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression (AAAD). AAAD was founded by former professional baseball player China McCarney, who struggled with panic attacks throughout his pitching career. He created the foundation to provide free mental health and wellness counseling for anyone suffering with anxiety and depression. Tyler committed to creating the Strikeout the Stigma campaign, raising money and awareness for mental health. Tyler is donating $250 for every strikeout he records during the 2022 season to AAAD, with the goal of raising more than $30,000 this year. These funds will provide mental health resources, including free therapy, to those in need.
As part of the partnership, Tyler volunteered to speak with Braves RBI coaches for a special panel discussion in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, along with McCarney from AAAD and Atlanta Braves mental performance professionals. The panel was designed to equip coaches with tools and resources to better recognize mental health struggles or challenges in their players, how to leverage mental wellness coaching for performance benefits and aid coaches in understanding how their role impacts their players. The feedback from an entirely African American audience of coaches was phenomenal, specifically that this topic is rarely discussed in their communities and circles. Tyler answered every question lobbed his way. He was very genuine, frank and open, which made the experience so much richer for the 40 coaches who participated. Following the event, each coach received copies of the AAAD Mental Health Manual for their players.
Tyler has participated in numerous interviews this year with the goal of addressing mental health awareness and providing support and encouragement to those who have faced severe, even career limiting, anxiety or depression.
Being willing to speak out about his anxiety, and now fundraising to provide free therapy to others in need, is making a difference for so many people who would otherwise struggle in silence.
In addition to being an advocate for mental health, Tyler is also extremely involved in various Atlanta Braves community outreach efforts. This season, he hosted Make-A-Wish kid and lifelong Braves fan Jackson Hall at Truist Park for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Tyler introduced Jackson to his teammates, showed him around the clubhouse, coached him while he threw in the bullpen and followed up the next day with a handwritten card and custom pair of cleats in the mail. In honor of Memorial Day, the Braves hosted families from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, an organization that provides care to families grieving the death of a military loved one. Tyler jumped at the opportunity to spend quality time with the families pregame in the Community Clubhouse, take photos, sign autographs and create lifelong memories for the children in attendance.
Tyler and Lauren are both supporters of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, participating in their annual Care-A-Thon which raised $28 million for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center this year. Tyler was also featured in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta “Strong 4 Life” Raising Resilience initiative, which provides caregivers with tools to teach kids how to cope with challenges, manage stress and ultimately make healthy decisions throughout their lives. In September, Tyler and Lauren also raise awareness for ovarian cancer. Tyler was by Lauren’s side as she battled ovarian cancer, and is now proudly a 10-year ovarian cancer survivor.
Tyler always makes himself available to for anything that is asked of him from a community involvement perspective. He delivers on this commitment with his time, talent, platform and financial resources to ensure that others less fortunate have the financial support and inspiration to keep going. The Atlanta Braves are grateful to Tyler Matzek for continuing to make a positive impact both on the field and off across Braves Country!