Rogers, Minnesota (WCCO) – A non-profit organization is working to raise awareness of the mental health of young athletes here in Minnesota, inspired by the early departure of a young hockey player.
Friday was the opening night of the high school hockey season. But it was about more than just hockey.
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“We have worked with many organizations and trying to bring it all together to raise awareness of something very important to all of us,” said Olivia Walshing, a Centennial High School hockey player and member of Sophie’s squad.
Sophie’s Squad has taken over the Roger Ice Rink to raise awareness of mental health, in honor of its name, Sophie Weiland.
It’s really unbelievable,” said Sophie’s sister Rachel. “It’s crazy to see everyone here support this cause, honor it.”
Sophie, 14, died by suicide in July. Soon, her hockey coach, Terry Hughes, founded Sophie’s squad.
“I just want to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family,” he said.
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“There’s been a huge outpouring of support for us,” said Sophie’s father, Henry. “I think a lot of that, she was a really good kid. A lot of people were shocked that this happened. A lot of people couldn’t believe what happened to her. If it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.”
The organization raises funds for youth through college-age athletes. Gabe Hughes plays hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“It’s huge in sports. You always set yourself to very high standards and keep your standards very high for everyone around you. So having the support and knowledge that mental health is OK, and we’re here to support that is extremely important,” said Hughes.
Sophie’s family and some of her former classmates were on the ice together.
She didn’t communicate with anyone. Sophie’s mother, Amy, said, “She didn’t tell anyone anything.”
Sophie’s Squad plans to hold more events throughout the hockey season and into the summer.
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