When the PennWest Clarion women’s rugby team takes the pitch at 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, there will be the usual tackles and infringements, rucks and grubber kicks. The spirit of the match will be fully present, enhanced, perhaps, by its dedication to Morgan’s Message.

Morgan was a bright, tenacious and talented high school athlete. She excelled in the classroom and on the lacrosse field. She was loved by family and friends and was an inspiration to many. Recruited to play Division 1 women’s lacrosse in college, she was optimistic about her future.

Before the beginning of her sophomore year, she sustained a knee injury and spent the following 12 months enduring surgery and rehabilitation. Feeling a loss of control over her life, her self-worth took a major blow. She felt isolated from her team and was stressed by other relationship issues.

The anxiety which she had successfully treated in high school returned, along with depression. This time, she didn’t reach out for support, and she endured the mental health battle alone. She died by suicide July 11, 2019, at the age of 22.

Stella Chierico’s northern Virginia high school was near the high school Morgan had attended, and Morgan’s name was known in the area. Chapters of Morgan’s Message were established in the local area, including at Chierico’s school.

An athlete herself, Chierico’s schedule was full. She wasn’t able to participate in the organization in high school, but she decided to get involved in college. When she began classes at PennWest Clarion, the Golden Eagles swimmer searched for a Morgan’s Message chapter on campus. Finding none, she decided to start one.

Her initial outreach for membership was to her teammates. Among them is Hailey Fry, who offered to help. Together, they co-founded the PennWest Clarion chapter of Morgan’s Message. They, along with women’s soccer player Alayna Wicker and wrestler Casper Hinklie, are club ambassadors. They host meetings, organize fundraisers and arrange dedication games and meets, which are games or tournaments dedicated to Morgan’s Message.

Fry said the dedication events such as Saturday’s rugby match provide an opportunity to tell Morgan’s story. The rugby match will offer temporary tattoos, T-shirts, ribbons and wrist bands to represent teams coming together to fight one cause and break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Another dedication event will be a home swim meet Nov. 10 against Bloomsburg, which also has a chapter of Morgan’s Message. Swimmers will wear swim caps featuring the Morgan’s Message logo, a mosaic butterfly drawn by Morgan, with a semicolon – a suicide prevention symbol – added to the center.

With the support of swimming coach Bree Kelly, who came on board as advisor, membership in PennWest Clarion’s chapter of Morgan’s Message is growing. Kelly has coached for 16 years, 14 of them at Clarion, and has helped countless students with their mental health issues.

“It most definitely is more prevalent than we may think,” Kelly said. “These student-athletes have so much more pressure and stressors than ever before.”

Morgan’s Message isn’t just for athletes.

“Anyone can come to the meetings,” Chierico said. “We want to increase awareness for mental health for everyone.”

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 in Tippin 209/210.

The Morgan’s Message organization stresses that ambassadors should not be giving advice.

“Our job is to connect people with resources,” Chierico said.

For information about the Clarion chapter, email morgansmessageclarion@gmail.com and follow on Instagram at @MorgansMessageClarionU.

Merchandise is available on the organization’s website, MorgansMessage.org.