SPS Today: Boys Varsity Hockey
Creating Dialogue for Mental Health Awareness
The Big Red boys hockey team skated in purple jerseys when SPS hosted Andover on January 18 at Gordon Rink. In front of an enthusiastic crowd, SPS won, 2-1. The decision to wear alternate jerseys as a tribute to Samaritans, an organization that focuses on suicide prevention and awareness, followed a recent tradition for the boys hockey program of picking a game to dedicate to a charity of its choice. The team conducts fundraising events leading up to the game, with donations going to the cause. Last year, the Big Red hosted Cushing Academy in a contest that benefited Autism Speaks, sporting blue jerseys in honor of the organization.
Samaritans, founded in 1974, serves the greater Boston community through three core services – 24/7 crisis support, community education and outreach, and grief support. The connection between Samaritans and SPS came through science faculty member Sarah Boylan, who will run the 2019 Boston Marathon on behalf of the organization. Her decision to participate in honor of Samaritans was personal to Boylan, who lost someone in her life to suicide. Boys Hockey Coach Danny Murphy credits Boylan, who worked with the team’s nine Sixth Formers to put the event together.
“I wanted to bring the cause to St. Paul’s,” says Boylan, “and get our kids involved.” In the week leading up to the Andover game, the boys hockey team partnered with the student-led Mental Illness Awareness Society to share facts and statistics in Chapel each morning, creating dialogue on campus about mental health awareness. The partnership also opened up a safe space for students to reflect on suicide and its impact on communities. In addition, the team ran a bake sale and sold custom T-shirts, with more than $1,000 in proceeds benefiting Samaritans.
“Incorporating service into athletics offers more talking points beyond the game itself, building thoughtfulness and reflection,” notes Murphy. “When you play a game in honor of an organization like Samaritans, it gives it more meaning and also allows the players, coaches, and fans to reflect on what the game was played for and why we all are so lucky to have participated in such a wonderful cause.”