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Reno 1868 FC to host mental health panel led by assistant coach Chris Malenab

By Kevin Bass, 05/19/20, 3:00PM PDT


Malenab and guests to discuss mental health in professional sports

RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC will host a virtual roundtable on mental health in professional sports, led by assistant coach Chris Malenab on May 29 as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. Malenab will be joined by Trevor Swartz, Sherif Zaher and Brett Zalaski.

“We are extremely proud to be able to support Chris and his story,” said general manager Doug Raftery. “We want to help spread awareness for mental health, in and out of sport. Having someone as outspoken as Chris presents us with a great opportunity to help those both in our community, and across the country.”

The roundtable will include a discussion of professional coaches, players and staff dealings with mental health as well as opportunities for viewers to ask questions.

The roundtable will be streamed live on Reno 1868 FC’s Twitch, and will begin at 5:00 p.m. PT on Friday, May 29.

Chris Malenab - Assistant coach, Reno 1868 FC

I am in my 7th season in the United Soccer League as an assistant coach (4 years Sacramento Republic FC, 3 years Reno 1868 FC). Outside of team and on-field successes my most recent soccer achievement was completing and earning the United States Soccer Federation A-Senior License.

I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II nearly 14 years ago. Over the last couple of years since my suicide attempt in January of 2019, I have decided to fight in the open and become an advocate for mental health in hopes to help break the stigma the surrounds it. 


Brett Zalaski  - Founder of Empower of a Salesperson

Brett Zalaski is the Founder of the website Empowerment of a Salesperson (  It's a website written for sports business sales reps with content driven by inbound requests from those reps.  He's also a consultant and sales trainer across all the major and minor leagues in professional sports.  His background includes stops with the NBA & MLS league offices, as well as working in leadership roles for teams in the NLL, NWSL, & MLS.  Brett has struggled with anxiety for as long back as he can remember.

Trevor Swartz - Player, Greenville Triumph

In four seasons with Indiana, I appeared in 82 total matches while making 58 starts, including a career-best 25 starts in 2017. During my senior season (2018), I played in 24 matches. During that year, I led all of the NCAA with 16 total assists, four more than any other player in Div. I men's soccer. I was named to the Second Team all-Big 10 and finished second on the team in total points with 18. 

I helped lead my team to the NCAA Div. I men's soccer national title game in 2017 and to the semifinals in 2018. I was a three-time all-academic, a three-time Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week selection, a three-time College Soccer News National Team of the Week selection, and a one-time Big 10 Offensive Player of the Week.  

Following my career with Indiana, I played for Toronto FC of the United Soccer League. I appeared in six matches for Toronto, making four starts, and totaling 361 minutes. 

During my time with Toronto, I started to experience anxiety that forced me to leave the club. I went home to sort out this issue and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety order (GAD) and depression.

I was able to sort out my diagnosis and signed with Greenville Triumph this past off season. 

Dr. Sherif Zaher - Licensed Clinical Psychologist

My credentials include a doctorate in clinical psychology, a masters in Kinesiology (sports performance) and a bachelor's in psychology. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of CA., and practice out of two convenient locations in the Sacramento region. Additionally, I have been the psychologist for the Sacramento Republic Football Club since 2014.


I have a special interest in assisting patients struggling with trauma-related symptoms, for example: children exposed to traumatic grief (due to the loss of a loved one) complex trauma (exposure to multiple traumatic events), and adults diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I also specialize in working with various mood disorders. 


In the realm of sport psychology, I have shared my expertise with numerous top athletes ages 9+. Some of the notable organizations/programs that have I have consulted with include: Sacramento Republic F.C., CSUS athletics, UC Santa Cruz, the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), as well as several elite high schools. In addition, I have been providing my services to world class athletes including soccer world cup and tennis grand slam participants. 

About Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness month has been observed every May in the United States since 1949. The awareness month was started by the Mental Health America organization and reaches millions of Americans through the media, local events and screenings.