On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Drake women’s soccer team took the field at home against Southern Illinois University in a game that brought the Bulldog athletic program and community together for an important cause.
“Today, we have our Mental Health Game. For myself and many others, this game is about recognizing the beautiful souls we’ve lost to such a cruel disease and raising awareness to show that it’s okay to be vulnerable and talk about your mental health,” senior goalkeeper Kelti Wise said. “As athletes, many people believe that being mentally tough means you can’t show your emotions or you’ll be seen as weak, which is the total opposite. You can be mentally tough and still have mental health issues, and as a team, we want to create an environment where you can be comfortable talking about your struggles, which is why we are having this game.”
This game wasn’t just important for the community, though. A number of athletes at Drake have openly struggled with mental health over the past few years, and this game represents strength and beating the mental health stigma many people struggle with.
“A lot of people on our team have either struggled with mental health or know of people that struggle from mental health, and we want to be the first to say everything you’re going through, you’re going through with us, and you are not alone. We want to break the stigma that carries with mental health and show that it is okay to not be okay,” Wise said.
With the impact this game had, the whole community came out to support, and the home crowd that came to cheer on the Bulldogs was loud and proud.
“This game is a great way to raise awareness for those who are struggling, and the hope is to reach as many people as possible,” first-year defender Zoey Mahoney said.
The Bulldogs not only showed up to support mental health, but they showed up on the field too. The first half of the game was slow moving, with the matchup scoreless going into halftime. During the second half of the game, the Bulldogs offense heated up fast, and it was only a matter of time until they took over.
Three minutes into the second half, midfielders Angela Gutierrez and Madelyn Smith assisted Amelia Crabtree for the first goal of the game, putting Drake ahead 1-0. Not long after this, Southern Illinois also scored, tying the game up at 1-1. The tie wouldn’t be broken until the final 12 minutes of the game. With only a few minutes left in the game, forward Emma Nagel assisted Layla Kelbel in scoring the winning goal for Drake. The Bulldogs ended up winning 2-1. Not only did they make their community proud, but they also supported those in need for a cause more important than any win could ever be.
The Drake women’s soccer team will play next against the Indiana State Sycamores on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7:00 p.m.