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Building a Community of Support for Student-Athletes

Beautiful butterfly on white background. Free public domain CC0 image.

by Logan Tyler

The beautiful girl in the photo smiles ear to ear with her friends’ arms draped around her shoulders. Not necessarily a girl who would stand out in the crowd, one just like a million others. However, this girl was loved by many, many people and to them she was special and enough. Graduation, lacrosse, senior day…she smiled through it all.  

These images can be found on the two minute and 22 second slideshow on the Morgan’s Message website. Morgan’s Message advocates for the mental health of athletes and calls for  more resources in athletic departments to help this epidemic. It also hosts a chat platform, “by and for athletes,” to talk about their struggles and build advocacy.  

Morgan was a bright, fun, vibrant lacrosse player at Duke. Sadly, she suffered an injury that sidelined her for twelve months. The sudden loss of her sport and routine contributed to Morgan developing depression and she tragically took her life at the age of 22. Her family and friends decided to spread her light and her story in an effort to prevent other athletes from facing similar challenges. 

Morgan’s Message has volunteer student-athlete ambassadors on 849 high school and college campuses – including Roanoke College. These ambassadors host fundraisers and mental health conversations designed to end the stigma surrounding mental health.  

Libby Bowman, a junior on the women’s lacrosse team at RC, is a Morgan’s Message ambassador on campus. Bowman says that her experience as an athlete for many years opened her eyes to the mental health struggles many athletes face. This made her want to bring Morgan’s Message to RC’s campus in an effort to help others feel a little less alone and offer an outlet for open and honest conversations.  

Bowman says that her goal as an ambassador for Morgan’s Message is to, “show student-athletes how much they are valued as an individual and how their feelings matter,” because she knows firsthand the pressures and stress that are placed on collegiate student-athletes. She emphasizes the fact that it’s okay to have bad days and that athletes are valued in many more ways than just their athletic abilities.  

Although Morgan is unfortunately no longer with us, her legacy and light live on through Morgan’s Message. The simple feeling of knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles with mental health can help save lives. By continuing to have ambassadors at locations all across the world, more lives can be touched and saved, building a tight-knit community of people who believe in protecting the mental health of athletes. Bowman says that she wants students to know that, “Morgan’s Message is not just for student-athletes! It is open to everyone. Some discussions may be tailored towards athletics, but not exclusive to it! Everyone has a place at Morgan’s message meetings, and I hope to see you all there.”