UMD Men’s & Women’s Hockey Team Up for Sophie’s Squad Mental Health Awareness Game

The women's game will begin at 3 PM, with the men to follow at 7 PM.

DULUTH, Minn.- When the UMD women’s hockey team gets ready for their series against St. Thomas.  They’ll be much more than hockey on their minds.

The Bulldogs are putting on a Hockey Hits Back Sophie’s Squad Mental Health Awareness Game on Saturday.

Graduate forward Gabbie Hughes, as well as her family, and the family of Sophie Wieland’s, created Sophie’s Squad.

Sophie’s Squad is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the mental health of athletes from the youth level to college.

Almost 220 thousand dollars has been raised since it’s inception.

Hughes, who has played many roles for the organization hopes this weekend will help reach a different audience in terms of awareness.

“I think just bringing awareness to the men’s side is definitely something Sophie’s Squad is focusing on. We’ve had a couple men’s hockey games at the high school level so far this year and hoping to grow that. Having it at a Division I school like UMD is definitely going to bring a lot more awareness. They do get more fans than us, so reaching a different crowd of people this year is definitely something we’re excited for and excited to see the big crowds for the weekend,” said Hughes.

Hughes’ coach Maura Crowell says the talks surrounding mental health awareness has changed her coaching style.

“Making sure that you’re looking at your players from the whole perspective. What else is going on in their lives. They’re students right now, they have finals next week, probably some finals this week. So really trying to be mindful of all the things that they have going on in their worlds. It’s always a good reminder for coaches to view your players as more than just a hockey player,” added Crowell.

The women’s squad will be teaming up with the men’s squad as Saturday’s 7PM contest versus Denver will also be a Sophie’s Squad mental health awareness game.

Head Coach Scott Sandelin has coached the Bulldogs for the last 22 seasons, and he says only in recent years has the talk of mental health awareness been brought up in his coaching circle.

He says it’s very important to keep those conversations happening in the coming years.

“The educational piece, and I give our department a lot of credit, they’ve made that a priority. Then you see these things that Gabbie and people are doing, I think it’s really important to keep doing those things, to keep it at the forefront. Because it’s something before that was probably going on,” said Sandelin.

The women’s game will begin at 3 PM, with the men to follow at 7 PM.

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Categories: College, Sports, University of Minnesota – Duluth