He works regularly with Cal Poly athletes, but because he’s not an official employee, he doesn’t have an office, or even a desk, in Mott Gym.
He regularly conducts interviews in one of Cal Poly’s busiest locations, The Avenue, but is still relatively unknown to the public eye.
He’s worked with the NBA, MLB and professional golf and tennis, among other prestigious organizations in the sporting world, but prides himself on modesty and the satisfaction he gets in making an impact in his clients’ personal lives.
He’s Jeff Troesch, a licensed mental health counselor contracted by the Cal Poly athletics department, and despite the lack of on-campus office space, he ensures that every Mustang athlete he works with has the mindset to succeed both on and off the field.
“Some players have it naturally and others need help in developing the mental side,” Cal Poly baseball head coach Larry Lee said. “Jeff has been very valuable for our program. He’s very good at what he does, he’s very believable, and he has a track record in a number of different sports at their highest levels.”
Troesch, 51, has worked in sports psychology for the past 25 years, a profession that today has him traveling up and down the California coast to lend a hand to athletes in a slew of different sports. His clientele ranges from amateur collegiate athletes and major tournament winners on the PGA Tour to world No.1-ranked tennis players and gold medal Olympians.
He currently works with 14 sports at Cal Poly as well as collegiate programs at UC Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford, in addition to owning a private practice in San Luis Obispo consisting of elite, amateur and professional athletes.
Sports have always held a special place in Troesch’s heart. He excelled as a baseball player growing up in Seattle, Wash., until an injury in college abruptly ended his playing career.
With a marketing degree from Washington State, Troesch earned a media relations position with the Seattle SuperSonics where he spent four years traveling with the team and immersed in the culture of the NBA. His experience, along with the emotional toll suffered from his career-ending injury, inspired Troesch to go back to school and earn advanced degrees in counseling psychology and education.
Troesch found a passion for the mental component of sports while working for the Sonics. Since then, he’s worked with MLB’s Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers as well as other professional organizations and academies before he settled in California.
In 2004, Troesch decided to move his family to San Luis Obispo to continue his private practice where, by chance, he stumbled upon now former-Cal Poly pitching coach Jerry Weinstein at the baseball team’s fundraiser golf tournament. Weinstein, a former employee of the Anaheim Angels, recognized Troesch, who was volunteering at the event, and introduced him to Lee.
As it turned out, Troesch and Lee were new neighbors and the head coach admittedly welcomed the help of the psychologist inviting Troesch to be the mental consultant for the Mustangs.
“We wanted him to get involved early with the team and individuals to create a good support system and create some routines,” Lee said of Troesch’s role on the baseball team. “What you don’t want to do is only utilize him in what we call a ‘911 call’ when things are hitting rock bottom (for the players).”
For Troesch, sports are often measured in tangible ways and with quantitative statistics — but not enough emphasis is given to mimicking the stressful situations that an athlete may face during a game-time performance. He finds many Cal Poly athletes entering college worrying too much about their outcomes such as batting average, track times, points scored, etc. He stresses that success should begin with mental discipline and improvement on a daily basis instead.
“For me, it’s about disciplining one’s mind and one’s thought process,” Troesch said. “Once an athlete realizes that through mental discipline with a one-day-at-a-time approach, they will give themselves the best chance to get the outcomes they want.”
His philosophy is simple: “The mantra that I use is: ‘Get one day better every day,’” Troesch said. “Over the course of a year, you’re going to be 365 days better if you do that.”
When junior pitcher Kyle Brueggemann had a rough outing early in the season, he decided to consult Troesch and his philosophy to help with his mental approach on the mound.
“It gives you confidence in yourself talking to someone that you know they know what they’re talking about,” Brueggemann said. “It’s not going to change your whole world, but it’s little things that will help you in certain situations. Baseball is such a mental game. Having that mental advantage can help put you ahead of the competition.”
Troesch is an internationally recognized expert and accomplished speaker on mental health who has been featured in numerous magazines, but for him, a makeshift office in The Avenue or his impromptu desk inside the Baggett Stadium dugout are more than enough to get his job done.