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Taking a shot at mental health: Linganore varsity volleyball holds Morgan’s Message dedication game

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Paul Madariaga
A display table at the event features Morgan’s Message wristbands.

Linganore High School (LHS) began the 2023-24 school year with a club fair for students. This year, LHS has several new clubs to offer, one of which is LHS’ newly-founded chapter of Morgan’s Message. 

Morgan’s Message is a non-profit organization striving to increase awareness of mental health, specifically in student athletes. 

Morgan’s Message was started in honor of Morgan Rodgers, who attended Duke University where she played Division l lacrosse. She was best known for her curiosity, passion and loyalty, but despite what others saw, Rodgers suffered from severe anxiety and depression. Rodgers died by suicide in July of 2019 at just 22 years old. 

As a result of Rodgers’ passing, many women in her life came together to form Morgan’s Message in her memory. This organization works hard to eliminate the stigma around mental health in the student-athlete community. 

This nonprofit has spread far beyond the Duke community where Morgan was most known. There are now chapters of Morgan’s Message throughout high schools and colleges nationwide. 

Much like Rodger’s friends and family, two students at Linganore High School felt compelled to make a change for student athletes after becoming aware of Morgan’s Message. 

Linganore High School seniors Chloe Little and Cheyenne Hamm paired up to create the school’s very own chapter of Morgan’s Message through which they hope to increase awareness of mental health within the Linganore community. 

Chloe Little and Cheyenne Hamm create a display board representing Linganore’s chapter of Morgan’s Message. (Paul Madariaga)

Chapter co-ambassador Cheyenne Hamm said, “Mental health has always been so important to me, and I want students that are struggling to know that they are not alone, while also providing a way for them to handle it.”

Morgan’s Message advisor Andrea Poffinberger also feels strongly about mental health in athletes, especially considering she is a coach herself. 

“It’s harder than it looks to be a student-athlete,” Poffinberger said. “Society teaches us at a young age that because you are an athlete you have to be tough all the time, but mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of, and we cannot always ‘tough those things out.'”

Morgan’s Message strives to not only eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, but to equalize the treatment of student-athletes physically and mentally, empower athletes to speak up, normalize conversations and remind student-athletes that they are more than their athletic accomplishments. 

Linganore’s chapter hopes to accomplish these mission. 

“I want to share the light and community that Morgan’s Message has created, and I hope that it can reach many other people,” Little said. 

Hamm is in agreement, “ I hope that through this club we are able to make mental health in student-athletes a more talked about subject.” 

The chapter was able to take a first step towards getting these conversations started through a Morgan’s Message dedication game. 

On September 26, Linganore’s girls’ varsity volleyball program held a dedication game to promote the new school club and honor Morgan Rodgers. 

The event featured a bake sale, many fundraising games and activities and plenty of information on the club and how to get involved.

One of the games at the event is a serving competition featuring students from the crowd. (Paul Madariaga)

For many involved in Morgan’s Message, the most exciting aspect of the event was increasing awareness and taking one further step towards ending the stigma of mental health in student-athletes. 

Senior volleyball player Hannah DiMisa said, “Our win tonight was great and full of energy… It felt important to play for such a great cause, and that made the win feel so much more exciting.”

That high-energy atomosphere was universally felt throughout the gym. Linganore volleyball’s head coach and Morgan’s Message advisor, Andrea Poffinberger, had a night full of success. 

“The team always gets pumped to play Oakdale…volleyball gets a lot of attention at Linganore, which helps attract bigger crowds,” said Poffinberger.

This proved to be true as the dedication game was packed, helping to spread awareness of Morgan’s Message.

“The crowd was very energetic and supportive tonight,” DiMisa said. 

Overall, the event was highly successful. Linganore volleyball played an amazing game; the final score was 3-2, with the Lancers winning by one set. The team has had an exciting season thus far, with a record of 5-2. 

“The event was extremely successful,” Poffinberger said. “There was a great turnout of people willing to donate and support such a worthwhile cause.” 

In the future, Morgan’s Message ambassadors hope to hold another dedication game. The plan is to hold an even larger event at a lacrosse game in the spring. Since Morgan Rodgers played lacrosse, it an ideal match for a dedication game. 

“We cannot wait to continue honoring Morgan in taking a shot at mental health!” said Little. 

Be on the lookout for more events from Morgan’s Message. To become involved in the organization’s Linganore chapter, contact Chloe Little, @[email protected], or Ms. Poffinberger, @[email protected]

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