Olympic athlete returns to Alexandria school to help students struggling with mental health issues

Noah Lyles
Olympian Noah Lyles returns to his Alexandria, Virginia, high school to talk about mental health. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

An Olympic athlete who attended Alexandria City High School in Virginia and won a medal in track this summer in Tokyo came back to this school this week to try and help students who are struggling with mental health.

Noah Lyles won a bronze medal in the last Olympics, and he has been outspoken about his own
struggles with mental health.

“I have always been in therapy for as long as I can remember,” said Lyles who recounted that his mom started him in therapy when he was 8 years old.

He has advice for students who are having a hard time: “Seek professional help. Of course your friends and family are great, but none of them are trained to actually get you through this.”

Lyles said people should not be stigmatized by taking medication for depression. Lyles said he found himself struggling in 2020 because of the pandemic and racial strife in the country and took mediation to get him through.

Noah Lyles won a bronze medal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

On the name change of his alma mater, Lyles said “it hurts a little” that the high school changed names from T.C. Williams to Alexandria City High School.

“The reason I came to this school was I actually watched the movie ‘Remember the Titans,’ and I told my mom, I want to go to that school,” he said.

But Lyles said he also understands the community wanting to change the name, and is very proud the decision was made.

The high school was originally named for Thomas Chambliss Williams, a former superintendent of Alexandria’s school system who was a segregationist.

The school board voted on new names for the city’s online high school and one of its elementary schools in April. The high school’s new name was unveiled in June and became official July 1.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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