By: Mitch Cohen
When it comes to the student-athlete community, they are known for being devoted to their teams and the sports they play. At the same time, they also have to do their schoolwork, attend class and maintain a social life. With all these responsibilities, student athletes tend to struggle with their mental health like their peers.
This is where the nonprofit organization Morgan’s Message comes in. It was created in 2020 with the goal of addressing mental health within the student-athlete community. According to their website, the organization is named after Morgan Rodgers, a women’s lacrosse player who “endured a dream-shattering injury [before her sophomore season in January 2017]”. Because of this, Rodgers’ mental health began deteriorating, which led her to take her life in July 2019. To continue the discussion on mental health, “1,635+ ambassadors on 720+ high school and collegiate campuses [have created Morgan’s Message chapters].” This year, Adelphi University established a Morgan’s Message chapter of its own.
Before introducing Morgan’s Message on campus, students had to learn about the organization itself. Andrew Delaney, a senior finance major, first learned about it last April while getting signatures for a sports psychologist on campus.
“I was on my own little venture just trying to spread awareness and [open up the conversation],” said Delaney.
Once fellow student athlete Courtney Wengryn, a junior marketing major, introduced him to the organization, they decided to establish a Morgan’s Message chapter at Adelphi. Over 40 student athletes joined the cause.
Delaney said his favorite aspect of the organization is that its mission resonated with him the most. “Their overall mission is to equalize the treatment of physical health with the treatment of mental health within the athletic community.”
Wengryn said that establishing a Morgan’s Message chapter at Adelphi has had a positive impact. “I think this is also bringing student athletes together because I’ve had conversations and talks with people I would’ve never really met without Morgan’s Message,” she said.
In September, Adelphi’s softball team played a dedication game against Wagner University to bring awareness to Morgan’s Message. Throughout October, sports teams including baseball and men’s soccer have hosted dedication games as well. By doing so, they’re increasing awareness about mental health and have the opportunity to change how mental health is handled in the student-athlete community.
For sophomore communications major Matt Wenz, one of his favorite parts of being involved with Morgan’s Message is contributing to the change itself.
“For me personally, I’m very focused on making sure that the student athletes that come after me will be able to go to these mental health professionals and get themselves taken care of,” he said.
Not only do student-athletes struggle with their mental health, but professional athletes do as well. In the 2020 Players Tribune essay, “To Anybody Going Through It,” Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love wrote about his struggles with mental health following an anxiety attack in 2018. “I would have the shades down most of the day, no lights on, no TV, nothing. It felt like I was on a deserted island by myself, and it was always midnight,” stated Love.
The reason it’s important to address mental health now is that bottling up emotions is an unhealthy way to cope with difficult situations. From Wenz’s perspective, he believes that by being a part of Morgan’s Message, there is a place for people to discuss their mental health. “Far too often, we see student athletes taking their lives and that’s sad that it’s taken kids to take their lives to put an emphasis on mental health,” he added.
As for how students can get involved with Adelphi’s Morgan’s Message chapter, there are two different options. If they want to be directly involved, they can reach out to an ambassador on their website at adelphimorgansmessage.org. If they want to show support, they can attend a dedication game. In the end, having a Morgan’s Message chapter at Adelphi is incredibly beneficial because it will allow the student-athlete community to discuss the importance of physical and mental health.