Tuesday, 9 January 2018

UBC Goes Green

It will be a bit of a weird sight this Friday at Father Bauer Arena when the green-and-gold Regina Cougars square off against the green-and-white UBC Thunderbirds. Wait, aren't the Thunderbirds usually wearing blue? What is happening out in Vancouver that would cause this kind of colour problem?

The Thunderbirds usually wear blue and gold, but the T-Birds are asking everyone who is headed to the game on Friday to wear green! No, they aren't throwing their support behind the visiting Regina Cougars in some sort of strange psychological experiment. Instead, the T-Birds are asking everyone to wear green to support Mental Health Awareness!

Admittedly, the above image looks a little off when one considers how the T-Birds normally look, but Mental health Awareness is a significant cause to the UBC fmaily, and I'm happy to see the Thunderbirds women's team throwing their support behind this caus by wearing green to help stimulate a conversation around mental health issues.

For those that may not be aware, Laura Taylor, a former goaltender with the UBC Thunderbirds, suffered from bipolar disorder and crippling depression for nearly half her life. Taylor was diagnosed as bipolar in her first year of undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan where she also played hockey. In a tragic ending, Taylor would commit suicide on April 7, 2016 just days before her 34th birthday. Her suicide came as a shock to all who knew her, including many players on the UBC roster.

Taylor connected with head coach Graham Thomas about possibly joining the team as a practice goalie when she enrolled at UBC as a medical student. Teammate Kelly Murray spoke of her dedication at the time.

"We struggle with taking four classes and getting to the rink on time," Murray told the Canadian Press in 2017. "Here she is a full-time med student working shifts at the hospital and still coming to practice. She was definitely an inspiration."

While Taylor knew she wouldn't get into games, she wanted to mentor the UBC netminders who were getting the minutes in big games in Amelia Boughn and Tory Micklash. While her efforts on the ice were noticed, her struggles off it were not.

"She just carried herself so well," Graham Thomas told the Canadian Press. "There was never really any kind of sign... nothing really jumped out at us."

The UBC Thunderbirds played their first Mental Health Awareness last season, and it's encouraging to see them making this an annual event. Laura Taylor's story is one that shouldn't be forgotten due to how quiet she kept it during her life, and I hope that UBC's efforts on Friday in wearing green and getting their fans to wear green help to save lives. Mental health isn't something that is always apparent as in the case of Miss Taylor, so getting people to talk about it is an important first step.

Kudos to the UBC Thunderbirds in getting that conversation started so that we have fewer endings like the one that Miss Taylor wrote. She may be gone, but she's not going to be forgotten thanks to the efforts of the UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team.

Until next time, let's have a conversation about mental health!

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