Loomis Chaffee Hockey Raises Awareness for Mental Health in Athletics

Connor Bankoff, Contributor

Every year, the Loomis Chaffee boys and girl varsity hockey teams collaborate with a charity to raise money during back-to-back home games. This year, they partnered with The Hidden Opponent (THO), a non-profit organization focused on breaking the stigma of mental health issues for athletes. 

Victoria Garrick, a former collegiate athlete at the University of Southern California, founded the organization. During her five years as a Pac-12 volleyball player, she struggled with anxiety and depression, which led her to create THO shortly after her final season in 2019. 

The organization embodies its motto of “Together, we will face the #Hidden Opponent,” with its mission to spread awareness on the mental health battles athletes face. 

Varsity captains for both girls and boys teams, Maggie Johnson ’23 and Aidan Healy ’23, were excited to support the cause. 

“Maggie and I were really looking for a charity that would be something our teammates could relate to as competitive athletes. I think we did just that,” Healy said.

When the captains and the girls varsity Head Coach Liz Leyden approached Athletic Director Sue Cabot with their choice of The Hidden Opponent, she was immediately on board.

“I jumped on the opportunity because I have been interested in this program for a while,” Ms. Cabot said. 

According to Ms. Cabot, mental health issues are prevalent and often overlooked, especially among athletes. In the last few years, reports of college athletes’ struggles have been increasing, which have sometimes led to student-athlete suicides, such as the case with Stanford soccer player, Katie Meyer. 

Ms. Cabot wants to raise more awareness about this pressing social issue within the LC community and has even started the conversation through the Athletic Department’s choice to put forward What Made Maddy Run as one of the options for the mandatory summer reading

Players on respective teams spent lunch blocks selling bright green “The Hidden Opponent” bracelets in the dining hall. Each bracelet was $2, and many students donated additional funds through Venmo. 

On game day, January 7, players wore the organization’s colors, putting bright green tape on their sticks and helmets. The teams also alternated selling snacks and beverages to the Loomis, Berkshire, and Kent fans. Both teams raised over $1,200 for the non-profit organization.

“Loomis Chaffee Hockey was honored to advocate The Hidden Opponent platform in making more people aware of this common crisis by amplifying the voices and needs of student-athletes,” Johnson said. 

“I was thrilled with the outcome of last weekend. I thought the players did a great job supporting the cause. This partnership will not be a one time thing. We are working to represent The Hidden Opponent as an entire school in the near future,” Ms. Cabot said.