Join USM SAAC, The ROCC, Husky Vets, & University Counseling Services for the "Kick the Stigma" Kickball Tournament on Sunday, October 15. Teams of up to 10 ($5 per person) will compete in a double-elimination format tournament, starting at 11 a.m. and going until a champion is crowned at the Costello Sports Complex! Don't have a team? No problem register as a free agent! REGISTER HERE
Story by Christina Cracolici, Assistant Director of USM Athletic Communications
GORHAM, Maine – Huskies' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in partnership with University Counseling Services, Student Affairs, Husky Vets and The ROCC (Recovery Oriented Campus Center) is sponsoring the ultimate test of athleticism on Sunday, October 15 at the Costello Fieldhouse (11:00 a.m.) with the "Kick the Stigma" Kickball Tournament. Open to all USM community members, teams of 10 can register via https://southernme.prestosports.com/huskyPride/SAAC/KickballTourney Deadline for registration is Friday, October 13.
If you don't have a team, no problem! You can register as a free agent, and SAAC will place you on a team. A fundraiser for SAAC, each registrant can enter the tourney for a $5 fee. All participants will receive a t-shirt, and a swag bag filled with information about the various University resources, and importantly candy. Champions of the tournament will be crowned out of a double-elimination format, and the brackets will be created once teams have entered.
"We are excited to host this new event, and help bring attention to the issue of Mental Health Awareness," said Miriam Wood, a member of SAAC's Event Management team and the Huskies' women's ice hockey team. "I think the name of the event says it all – Kick the Stigma. It's important that everyone understands that reaching out for help isn't a sign of weakness."
"It's going to be a fun event, and will allow for an environment for USM community members to learn about the numerous resources on campus, and to let people know that they have support," said Sarah Michaud, women's soccer player and SAAC event management team member. "We're happy to be reaching out to other groups on campus and to work with them on this issue."
Recognized with the University of Southern Maine Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award consecutively (2015, 2016 & 2017) and earning national honors from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA) with the Josten's Community Service Award 12 times, the University of Southern Maine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is continuing its mission to fulfill its five focus areas of Athletics, Education, Community, Citizenship and Wellness with the creation of this new event with the intent of highlighting the numerous campus resources available to the University's student body.
"Stigmas do not exist around other healthy behaviors the way they do around mental health," said Andrew Kiezulas, a member of the Recovery Oriented Campus Center's Leadership Team. "Visiting a dentist or a doctor keeps your physical being strong and happy … The same goes for you and your brain when engaging mental health services."
Huskies' SAAC is following the lead of the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee which made peer education on mental health issues a top priority during the July 2016 NCAA National Convention in Indianapolis. Last Fall, USM SAAC sponsored an Active Bystander and Peer Advocacy Training in coordination with University Counseling Services, and Dr. Erin Hatch of Maine Medical Partners and the Athletics' Department Sports Psychologist. The outcome of the an Active Bystander and Peer Advocacy Training led to the growth in awareness of mental health issues, education in how to be an active bystander and help peers in a meaningful way, and the understanding of the importance of bystander intervention.
"All of us have struggled at one point or another, and there have been negative connotations associated with seeking help for our mental health such as feelings of weakness, failure, or inadequacy that are simply untrue," said Samantha Allen, Head Women's Basketball Coach and SAAC Advisor. "Every student-athlete knows that to perform at our best, we need to be on top of our mental game as well as the physical. Our goal as USM's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is to facilitate educational opportunities for students about the resources available on campus and in the surrounding communities with a fun activity such as kickball. It's time that we break the stigma of mental health, and embrace the power of positive messaging in how we think, speak, and act."
WHAT IS USM SAAC?
The University of Southern Maine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is a student-led group comprised of selected student-athletes representing each of our 22 intercollegiate teams. As members of SAAC, these representatives actively participate in the organization, administration, implementation and evaluation of the collegiate athletic program at USM.
The goals of SAAC focus on improving the quality of the athletic experience for all participants, involving student-athletes in educational programming and leadership opportunities, and implementing outreach programs that support and nurture the growth and development of children in the surrounding communities.
Each year, USM SAAC sponsors several community-related activities throughout the school year ranging from volunteerism (such as SAAC's volunteered time at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital and Preble Street Food Pantry), to its Unified Sports Program partnership with Maine Special Olympics, and fun-filled community activities (Skate with the Huskies, and the award-winning Husky Community Halloween Party).