SAIT student-athletes take mental health awareness for a spin

The SAIT Trojans stood loud and proud for mental health at the fourth annual Make Some Noise campaign Jan. 19-24 on campus.

The award-winning campaign, created and implemented in 2015 by the SAIT Trojans Outreach Program, is designed to promote mental health awareness and to start a conversation about the “taboo” subject.

“Mental health is something that we all have dealt with or seen in one way or another,” said SAIT Trojans cross-country running and indoor track athlete Matthew Vandegriff.

We’re here to talk if you need us. We’re athletes. We’re students. We know what it’s like to experience pressure. – Matthew Vandegriff

This is Vandegriff’s second year volunteering with the campaign but he said he has always been an advocate for mental health and describes himself as a motivator to the rest of his peers.

Billie Rae Busby, creator and chair of Make Some Noise, started the campaign after hearing about the Brentwood murders in 2014, in which five University of Calgary students were killed by a peer at a house party.

“I had gone through a tragedy like that myself where I lost my best friend,” Busby said in an interview.

“I know what it’s like to lose somebody in a traumatic experience and how that affects people and their mental health. The people who are left behind are the ones who also need some extra help.”

The Trojans kicked off the campaign on Jan. 19 with a mobile pep rally around SAIT campus, led by Vandegriff.

“All the athletes went around campus and into classes making as much noise as possible,” Vandegriff said.

“It was great to see that people actually paid attention to what we were doing and then went ‘yea, I need to get behind that movement too because that’s a step in the right direction.’”

Other events during the week included Self Care Sunday, a social media campaign to promote how students can take time to take care of themselves, the Living Library on Tuesday and SAITSA’s Wellness Wednesday.

One of the campaign’s most popular events occurred on Monday, Jan. 22, where all members of the Trojans athletics took part in multiple one-hour glow-in-the-dark cycling sessions.

“The spin class was so much fun. I came into it feeling so stressed from my practicum, but after riding the bike for an hour I felt so much more relaxed and relieved,” said Kiesha Perry, Trojan women’s soccer player.

“As a student-athlete, you have the stress of not just school but your sport as well, so it’s nice to have times like this to take a step back from both of those.”

A lot of team effort from both athletics and recreation goes into this campaign, Busby said, but the true success of the campaign comes from the student-athletes.

“This is why it has grown so much, because of their excitement and enthusiasm to be part of it.”


About Samantha Cashin 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Samantha Cashin worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.