HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -The James Madison University’s Lacrosse team played a special game on Sunday.
The Dukes were “Taking a Shot at Mental Health” in honor of Morgan Rodgers, a Duke University athlete who died by suicide in 2019.
Those who knew Morgan Rodgers say she was bubbly and had a great sense of humor, but once she was on the lacrosse field, she meant business.
Morgan worked her way to a spot on the Duke University’s Women’s Lacrosse Team.
“People would say ‘no one loves this sport more than Morgan Rodgers.’ No matter what was going on in her life, when she was on the field she was her happiest,” Dona Rodgers, Morgan’s mom, said.
However, Morgan suffered a knee injury right before her sophomore season that kept her on the sidelines.
“That was kind of the beginning of the end for her, I think,” Dona said.
Morgan’s parents said after that she was struggling in silence with her mental health.
She died in 2019.
Since then, her loved ones have been working to share her story and start the conversations surrounding mental health in athletics through their organization “Morgan’s Message.”
“We want these athletes to know that it is okay to speak up, as a matter of fact you have to speak up. When your arm hurts or your leg hurts you don’t keep quiet. You don’t limp of the field and don’t say the word. It’s the same exact thing. It’s no different,” Dona said.
“I don’t want another family to ever have to go through this, and we are just going to do whatever we can to spread the word,” Kurt Rodgers, Morgan’s Dad, said.
Morgan’s message is spreading.
The organization started just 7 months ago, and there are over 200 Morgan’s Message ambassadors at over 100 campuses throughout North America.
Charlotte Haggerty and Sarah Reilly are members of the JMU Lacrosse Team and ambassadors of Morgan’s Message.
The players are working to make sure everyone has someone to turn to.
“I think as athletes we always have this feeling that we need to be strong and have this persona of always having it together,” Haggerty said. “It’s okay not to be okay sometimes.”
Reilly said the pandemic has been tough, and Morgan’s Message could not have come at a better time.
“I think that is one of the positives from this pandemic is that mental health all over has been more talked about and more normalized,” Reilly said.
The team was looking to get a win for Morgan on Sunday, and they did just that.
The Dukes beat Towson 14 to 12.
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