UMass hockey raising awareness for mental health during ‘Movember’

Carvel prioritizing mental and emotional check-ins with the Minutemen

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Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

This November the Massachusetts hockey team is growing out its mustaches to help raise awareness for men’s mental health.

‘Movember’ is a charity aimed at changing the course of mental health specifically in the male community. According to their website, men account for 75 percent of all suicides. Raising awareness and normalizing conversations around mental health are at the forefront of the movement. This year UMass players and coaches are getting involved, continuing conversations they have been having within the locker room and using their platform to make a difference.

“Mental health is becoming more and more part of the mainstream and acceptable,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “Especially being division I athletes these kids deal with a lot of stress and part of being a coach is being aware of how kids are doing mentally and emotionally.”

When Henry Graham initially brought up the idea to the Minutemen leadership group, players jumped on it immediately and by the first day of the month they had a video shot for the UMass Hockey social media pages and a website link to donate.

“I think our goal right now is $5,000,” assistant captain Colin Felix said. “It was at $4,000 but we had to bump it up because the first couple days we got some good donations, it’s nice to see everyone get involved in that … it’s a really good cause and we’re just trying to raise as much money and awareness as possible.”

Carvel has long prioritized mental health for his players, but that increased further in 2020. When Zoom calls and push-ups replaced team meetings and summer skate sessions during the start of the pandemic, checking in wasn’t only a priority, it was necessary.

“We try to be very aware, supportive and understanding of how difficult the challenges that we provide for them and the standards that we set are,” Carvel said. “So, we’re always checking in with the players, especially last year during [COVID-19] I thought we were very good about asking where kids were emotionally, if they were doing alright.”

“It’s something that should be commonplace.”

This isn’t the first time the Minutemen raised money for ‘Movember’, either. During Carvel’s time as head coach a few different players have brought the idea forward, and even extending back prior to his tenure behind the bench, former UMass coach John Micheletto got his team involved in the movement.

The most exciting part for most players is the chance to grow out their mustaches and poke fun at each other along the way. Ryan Sullivan went for the Freddy Mercury look and there have been a few other strong contenders to take the crown of best Mustache for the Minutemen, including Anthony Del Gaizo and Felix.

“It was shocking that [Monday] was Nov. 1 and [Tuesday] all these full mustaches appeared out of nowhere,” Carvel said. “Five guys had a full mustache, I said ‘how the hell did you do that in one day’? A couple guys are pretty good, a couple are pretty cringeworthy, I won’t name names because mine would be really cringeworthy as well.”

No matter what UMass’ faces look like on Nov. 30, raising awareness for an important cause will always be the most important aspect.

“The players enjoy it,” Carvel said. “They enjoy having a reason to grow a mustache, but they also are very well aware of the reason why they do it.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.