Spotlight

Ryan Mundy

Trust Spotlights

Ryan Mundy

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Growing up in Pittsburgh, Ryan Mundy recalls beginning his football career at seven as an offense guard. However, being the largest and fastest kid on the team, each game left him feeling fully underwhelmed. After so, when it came time to sign up for the next year, eight-year-old Mundy gave his father an ultimatum: he would only play if he was able to get the ball and score touchdowns. And the rest is history; “that was pretty much the game-changing decision that got me here today,” Mundy said.

Today, Mundy describes himself as a “lifelong athlete,” having put twenty-four years of his life into the game. His youth football dreams turned into an undergraduate career at the University of Michigan and a graduate year at West Virginia University. Then in 2008, Mundy was surrounded by his family and friends when he was drafted by his childhood team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. “For me to spend my childhood years up to college really pursuing that dream and having a community—my family and my friends—support me every step of the way, and then to realize that dream in front of them by getting drafted back home, was really special,” he said.

His rookie year with the Steelers started with his loved ones and ended with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, a truly surreal experience for Mundy. His NFL career spanned eight years, playing also for the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears.

When it came time for Mundy to retire, however, he felt a sense of mourning while walking away from the only lifestyle he had ever known; “pretty much all roads led back to football,” he said. Having built his life around the game — from going to school for football, earning a living through football, and having met his wife and close friends through ties to the game— leaving it behind was a difficult transition.

“When you're no longer directly playing the game on a day-to-day basis, you have to take a step back, and for me, it was particularly hard,” he said. Even with the pre-retirement preparation Mundy did — from getting his MBA to continuing education courses through the NFLPA — the actual transition was much harder on his mental health than he had anticipated. “I had a hard time dealing with identity issues, bouts with anxiety, depression, and missing the game, so it was really tough.”

Football taught me how to work, how to navigate uncomfortable situations, how to get up when you get knocked down, and how you recover from that. It ultimately really helped me navigate that transition.

In addition to dealing with his own mental health struggles during his departure from the League, Mundy was also witnessing his family members battle an array of chronic health conditions, including Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes, amputations, heart attacks, strokes, and brain aneurysms.

Through such a trying time, however, Mundy’s company Alchemy was born. Channeling both his passion for improving health and his exposure to the venture capital world, Mundy worked to create something to better the lives of others. “If my family's going through it, then I knew more people are going through it,” he said, and “I didn't see many folks in the venture capital industry stepping up to the plate to solve that problem.” Answering a need in the market, Mundy’s next passion and career came to fruition; “I started Alchemy in 2020 with a mission to create generational health for the Black community.”

Mundy describes Alchemy as a “transformative space to build community and develop wellness skills for the Black community.” It is a virtual space for community members to come learn and develop skills about complex mental health topics, practice mindfulness, meditate, and attend virtual workshops on how to implement such practices into their day-to-day lives. Mundy was determined to transform his battles during his transition into a project that could help others.

Today, Mundy is also dedicated to helping current and former athletes get the help they need. During the events leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, Alchemy and the NFLPA put on an afternoon focused on athletes’ wellness and mental health. The four-hour programming featured yoga, meditative sound baths, and a panel discussion with players and licensed clinical professionals.

The Trust has also been a key player in Mundy’s health. After getting his first Brain and Body Assessment done five years ago, he was eager to become a vocal advocate of the experience. With a desire to encourage other Former Players to get their Brain and Body Assessment completed, Mundy decided to vlog his time at the Cleveland Clinic this year to show Former Players exactly what they could expect. “It's always really good to know where you stand and to get a comprehensive overview,” he said, “because five years ago I was 33, and I’m not that age anymore, so it lets me check back in and see how things have progressed or lack thereof, just so I know.” Mundy urges Former Players to prioritize their health by taking the first step and getting their Assessments done every five years.

I try to share my knowledge and my experience to hopefully inspire somebody else to do the same. A lot of times, the blocker is us, but we have to get out of our own way. Sometimes we need to see people who we can relate to, who we understand, and who come from similar backgrounds as us doing the things we hope to do.

“The common denominator that we all have is that we ultimately stop playing one day,” Mundy said, and “a lot of times, we try to hold on to the past too much, and while the past is important, the past no longer serves us because it's not now.” With the present in mind, Mundy encourages Former Players to take the skills and relationships they built through football to find their next passion. “There's something that's within you, but you need to find out how to repurpose those skills and channel them into whatever you want to do next,” he said.

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