Seattle Sounders FC star visits Swedish First Hill

September 20, 2023 Swedish Communications

[4 min read]

In this article:

  • Providence and Seattle Sounders FC share a partnership focused on supporting youth mental health and well-being. 
  • Providence Swedish is the official health partner for Seattle Sounders FC. 
  • Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnák spent time with Swedish caregivers during a summer visit to our First Hill campus.

Earlier this summer, Swedish First Hill was abuzz with excitement with a visit from Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Albert Rusnák, who stopped by First Hill to meet caregivers, sign autographs, take photos, and stress the importance of caring for our mental health and well-being.

In April, Providence announced an innovative and exciting partnership with Sounders FC that includes Swedish as the official health care partner for the Sounders and a commitment to focus on youth mental health. Central to the work is encouraging everyone to sign a pledge to focus on our health and well-being and support others in caring for themselves. In a heartwarming moment demonstrating the impact of caring for others in our community, Rusnák surprise Face Timed a Swedish Cherry Hill patient after learning that they were a Sounders superfan—with the tattoos to prove it.

Seattle Sounders FC Albert Rusnák with Chief Nursing Officer Renee Rassilyer-Bomers (at left) and Director of Quality Heather Martin (at right) during his summer visit to Swedish First Hill. Top photo: A photo stop while meeting with caregivers. During his visit, Rusnák empasized the importance of caring for our physical and mental well-being. He also took time for a video call with a patient who is a Sounders superfan.  

After his June visit with caregivers, we spoke with Rusnák about how he cares for his own mental and physical health and how we can apply some wellness tips from a pro athlete in our own lives.  

How does maintaining our physical fitness help support our mental health and wellness?

They go hand in hand. It’s not that you need one to be perfect or you don’t need one of them. I think it’s a combination of both. To play soccer or football, people think we only use our legs, but I think during a game, 90% of it is played through your head. Everything goes through your head and through your brain. Feet are really just a tool to play, so it’s important to keep in good physical AND mental shape. There are different ways you can train your body and there are ways to train your mind. They are both important, not just for sports, but overall.

How can we start a conversation about mental health with friends or loved ones?

Speaking from my own experience, I wouldn’t be able to help someone firstly because I haven’t gone through it. However, I think everyone has a different way to deal with different situations in life, stress, anxiety and so on, and I think everybody is different and everybody is unique in their own way, and some people are better at dealing with things than others and some people do need help or to speak to somebody and that can be a big relief for them. So if that’s the way that helps them, the Sounders and Swedish have partnered up together for the program and it’s a good thing and as long as it will help at least one person, it’s worth it.

What role does exercise [off the field] play in your own wellness? How can it help those of us who aren’t professional footballers?

It may sound different coming from me because sports is all I’ve done all my life ever since I was a young boy, so it may be a little different, but I do think doing some sort of exercise—it doesn’t have to be a top level exercise—any exercise, whether it’s a gym session, swim, or going for a run when the weather is nice, can be really helpful for our mental health. The mental health and physical part of our body work together and they’re both really important. I think the importance of doing some sort of activity, some sort of exercise is good for your mind as well as for your body. I would encourage people who have access and are willing, to do something. I think it’s one of the simplest things we can do to help ourselves.

How do you mentally prepare yourself for games?

I have no rituals, nothing as far as I feel I have to do in order to be prepared for the game. Of course, there are things like what you eat on a game day—you don’t want to eat something heavy and then you’re running around, and you feel heavy and you don’t feel sharp. And that can help. We also have access to things like cryotherapy the day of the game, which we can use to get a little energy boost. Hydration is also really important. It’s really the simple things that can make a big difference.

Why is it important for the Sounders to share the message of caring for our mental health and wellness?

I think it is important because Sounders do have a huge platform and the whole point of this is to reach as many people as possible with this message, and in my eyes, if it’s going to help one person, then it was worth it. The platform and how big it is and how many people it can get to, I think that’s really nice.

Learn more and find a provider

Whether you need a primary care practitioner or a specialist, Swedish is here for you. With Swedish Virtual Care, you can connect face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your family and health history. To find a provider, try searching our provider directory.

To learn more about the mental health resources available to you, contact Swedish Behavioral Health. We can accommodate both in-person and virtual appointments.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Additional resources

At Renton HS clinic, Sounders FC and Providence focus our partnership on community 

Youth mental health is focus of Providence and Sounders FC partnership

Hope and help for mental health in 2023

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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