While the Family Weekend game did not go well for the Elon University football team Saturday afternoon, the Phoenix still received attention around campus for something positive.
The football team partnered with Active Minds — the student advocacy club that “strives to break the stigma surrounding mental illness” — to create a 40-second video that was shown on the videoboard during the first half of Saturday’s game. The video — which, as of 5 p.m. Monday, has more than 8,000 views on the club’s Facebook page — wrapped up Active Minds’ Suicide Prevention Week campaign, using the national organization’s slogan “The World Needs You Here.”
The idea for the video came from senior Paige Sokoloff, a member of the club and an equipment manager for the football team. Sokoloff met with Active Minds president Lyndsay Clark to discuss what would resonate on Elon’s campus.
“We were brainstorming, and I was like, ‘Wait, what if we make a video and have them play it at the game? There’s going be so many parents there, it’s going to be huge attendance at this game,’” Sokoloff said. “We got the approval for it. I stayed after late one practice, and I talked to the guys and asked them to do this for me, and they were very excited about it.”
Head coach Rich Skrosky called the decision to do the video a “no-brainer.”
“I’ve said forever, that as a football player, team or program, you have a platform,” Skrosky said. “It’s a platform that isn’t just at Elon, but it hit us in a very personal way last year. Nationally, our treatment of mental health in this country needs to be talked about [more]. I told the kids, ‘If this helps one person, it’s worth it.’”
It’s especially moving for the football team after former teammate Demitri Allison committed suicide last November. Senior punter David Petroni was more than happy to lend a helping hand in any way he could.
“Obviously, our team has been affected by this serious issue,” Petroni said. “When you hear someone talk about it that’s been personally affected by it, it brought me back a little bit. Even if it’s just 10 seconds saying something to a camera, I want to do whatever I can to bring awareness to the problem.”
It wasn’t just Petroni who stepped up, either. Sokoloff said the entire team was eager to participate, both in the video and throughout the campaign.
“They just were very into the week — I got a lot of support from them at the different events throughout the week,” Sokoloff said. “They all wore the yellow wristbands that we passed out with the saying on it. They asked for multiple because they sweated it off, and then they needed another after practice, so they had stacks of them.
“We had a speaker at the end of the week on Friday, and they all came to me after the speaker. Some of them wanted to join the club and be on the email list. They were very receptive to it and supported me throughout the week. They’ve been really great.”