Meet the Team

Victoria Garrick

Founder & CEO

Victoria Garrick is former Division 1 athlete who had a successful career at the University of Southern California on the Women’s Volleyball team from 2015-2019. Since delivering her 2017 TED Talk, “Mental Health in Athletes: The Hidden Opponent,” she has become a passionate advocate for mental health and body-image. Victoria founded The Hidden Opponent to create a strong community and unified platform for the many student-athletes who face mental health issues. Victoria is also a public speaker and podcast host.

Leeann Passaro

Chief Operating Officer

Leeann Passaro is a former student-athlete from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She has struggled with anxiety and depression, especially after dealing with various concussions from sports. Leeann now works as a high school English teacher in Tampa, Florida, where she also coaches soccer and lacrosse. She is looking forward to earning her Master’s Degree in Education. Outside of athletics, Leeann loves reading, writing, film editing, and fishing!

Jamila Johnson

Research Coordinator

Jamila Johnson is a former Division 1 volleyball player from Furman University. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she earned her Master’s degree in Community Engaged Medicine, where she dedicated her thesis to uncovering the stigma of mental health in student-athletes. By combining her education and personal experiences, she plans on advocating for the student-athlete community. Jamila now works as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Prisma Health in South Carolina.

Danielle Valente

Clinical Resource Manager

Danielle Valente is a former Division 1 athlete and former professional soccer player for Bradford AFC in England. She earned her Master’s Degree in Psychology; she focused her dissertation on self love and mental health. Danielle is passionate about all things mental health, education, and athletics. She now works as a children’s therapist for a non-profit organization outside of Philadelphia, where she helps children learn tangible tools and reframe cognitive distortions to cope with anxiety, depression and trauma. She enjoys spending her extra time coaching the sport that gave her so much! 

Kristen DeRiggi

Financial Advisor

Kristen DeRiggi is a former Division 1 athlete from American University in Washington, DC, where she played on the women’s soccer team from 2012-2016. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, she has worked as an auditor for a public accounting firm. She is passionate about athletics and hopes to give upcoming competitive athletes the support and resources that were lacking during her competitive sports career. Outside of work she is still actively playing the sport she loves and spending time with family and friends. 

Mary Pat Murray

Communications Director

Mary Murray is a former softball student-athlete from Arcadia University outside Philadelphia. In addition to playing in college, Mary has played internationally, representing Great Britain. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Communications at Johns Hopkins University, while coaching softball at both the club and collegiate levels. Mary hopes to work in collegiate athletic communications. She is passionate about mental health and identity in athletics, and she has dealt with anxiety and depression. Off the field, Mary loves writing, traveling, anything Disney, and playing with her pup!

Candace Stewart

Strategic Development Director

Candace Stewart is a former Division 1 soccer player from the United States Military Academy. Candace served six years in the Army as Field Artillery Officer and USA Team Handball Solider-Athlete.  She has a Degree in Engineering Psychology focused on optimizing humans interactions with technology. Mental health awareness is important to her because she wishes she had the tools to better navigate her experience as a student-athlete. Candace loves to surf, try new food, and hang out with her dog in her free time. 



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