June 23rd, 2024

Eagles honouring teammate at game today

By Dale Woodard on November 27, 2021.

The Lethbridge Female Junior Eagles hockey team will pay tribute to a teammate and raise further awareness to the importance of mental health this afternoon.

As they host the Calgary Titans today at 1:30 p.m. at the ATB Centre, the Eagles will honour teammate Emily Middagh, who lost her battle to mental health earlier this year.

The game will feature a 50-50 draw and silent auction with all funds raised going to Companion Paws and Youth One, two causes close to Middagh.

“We lost her to suicide in February,” said Eagles head coach Megan Skelly.

“We obviously would have wanted to honour her in some way last year with a memorial and celebration and continue the dialogue of mental health, which I think is extremely important, especially through COVID.

“So that has been the primary focus for this coming weekend, celebrating Emily and honouring who she was to our team and our players and also continuing that dialogue around suicide and mental health.”

The game will also feature a ceremonial puck drop from Cabinet Expressions from Coalhurst – where Middagh worked – as well as a few words from Eagles assistant captain Tenelle Lind, who was Middagh’s roommate.

Hailing from Manitoba, Middagh joined the Eagles last year as an overage player.

“She knew quite a few players on the team prior to that, so there were some relationships even before she stepped on the ice,” said Skelly.

“She had been involved with a lot of the players who had been coming out for the current season when she tried out.”

As they remember their teammate today, Skelly stressed the importance of a healthy discussion surrounding mental well being.

“When it happened, people weren’t attending funerals. With COVID there was no real opportunity to grieve or celebrate her life. Most of us have been impacted in their own struggles with mental health, a family member or someone they lost to suicide. I think we have our own struggles and we don’t talk about it. “

“It’s just bringing this stuff up and (saying) every dialogue is healthy and letting people know you’re human and we can celebrate being human. I think it’s a good opportunity to also bring a team together and hopefully create awareness that things like this, when they do happen, that we have support and hopefully things like this don’t have to happen as much. The community as a whole has resources that we can access for support.”

In addition to the silent auction and the 50-50 draw, those attending today’s game can simply make a cash donation if they choose.

Companion Paws sets people up with support dogs. Middagh utilized the program and had a dog named River.

“River was a big part of her journey and her life,” said Skelly. “So we felt that was an organization we really wanted to support and give back to. That was something that was important to her.”

Youth One will be the other beneficiary of this afternoon’s game.

“We were looking for a local organization that supported youth, mentorship and mental health resources,” said Skelly.

Cabinet Expressions has also given to the cause.

“They’ve donated a couple of silent auction items and straight up donations to the 50-50,” said Skelly, adding she’d like to see this afternoon’s fundraiser become an annual event.

“I’m hopeful as the head coach we’re going to do this every year and it’s something we can champion as our own cause as a team, have a mental health awareness and discussion that keeps moving forward and look for adult organizations that really support mental health.”

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