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Minnesota girls lacrosse community plays with purpose to stop the stigma against mental health

Girls lacrosse community comes together to break stigma surrounding mental health
Girls lacrosse community comes together to break stigma surrounding mental health 02:00

EDINA, Minn. — Being a student-athlete can bring the highest highs, but the lows that come from pressure, anxiety or injuries can be just as powerful and too often, silent.

To shed light on this common issue among young people, MN Elite Lacrosse hosted a tournament at Edina High School to bring awareness to ways student-athletes can get help and support.

"I feel like we're very open with each other, so if something is wrong we always tell each other, just to tell someone," said Karsyn Elliot, a lacrosse player at Benilde-St. Margaret's and college commit. Elliot understands the high pressure many students-athletes feel crushed by.

"I think it's something that we really need to let people know that we are there for you," said Elliot.

That's exactly what "Morgan's Message" is all about, which was the focus of this lacrosse tournament.

"It's okay to not be okay, " said Maria Longley Slusser, the tournament director and coach with MN Elite Lacrosse.

Morgan's Message was founded in memory of Morgan Rodgers, who played lacrosse at Duke University. A torn ACL took her out of the game and left her suffering in silence. She died by suicide in 2019.

Longley Slusser's daughter had played with Morgan, which is why she felt compelled to host this tournament and normalize mental health conversations among players from across the state.

"We're just super honored to be playing in her honor and bringing to the forefront such an important topic," said Longley Slusser.

RELATED: Minnesota athletes talk mental health hurdles, pressures of professional sports

"Morgan's Message" hits deep for MN Elite Lacrosse player Maddie Kaltsas. An injury also sidelined her during her college recruitment year.

"There were times where I was think, 'oh there's nothing really out there for me or there's people who care but also aren't there,' so just to have this tournament in place to know that people are there for you," said Kaltsas.

Now Kaltsas is back on the field and hopes to help others through their mental health journey.

"Yes, it was hard at times, but the people around you helps to get you through it and you're not alone," said Kaltsas.

"Morgan's Message" has students ambassadors that host support groups at six different Twin Cities high schools, and they're hoping to grow that reach in the coming years. Anyone can got to these groups for help, you don't have to be a student athlete.

To learn more, click here.

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