Falcons fastpitch team hopes to “Strike Out the Stigma”
— Created May 17, 2023 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Here’s a “strike” a Whidbey Island high school softball team is hoping everyone can get behind.
“Strike Out the Stigma” is a fundraising initiative of the South Whidbey High School girls’ Falcons fastpitch team to mark Mental Health Awareness month. In addition to concession sales at games, A GoFundMe page has been established, with a goal of raising $5,000 by the end of the month. Team members hope this innovative campaign will raise enough money to enable them to offer students at all three Whidbey Island high schools coupons they can use to seek help from mental health professionals. (https://www.gofundme.com/f/strike-out-the-stigma-falcon-fastpitch-for-mh)
In addition to social media and in-school announcements, the Falcons used Friday night ‘s game against rival Coupeville to showcase the fundraising effort. Both teams lined the field next to one another, signaling the importance of removing the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues.
“We decided to put on this mental health awareness game because we wanted to spread awareness and show our support the best we can,” said a joint statement written by Falcons’ team captains, Kyla Rogers and Jules Northup. “Mental health means something different to everyone on this team and it’s really important that we talk about mental health in the present, since mental health is talked about so much in past tense. We really wanted to showcase our support for mental health by wearing green and holding a fundraiser.”
Keasha Campbell, a 2002 graduate of South Whidbey High School and former fastpitch player, is in her first year as the Falcons’ head coach. She said mental health was labeled as one of the biggest concerns among team members.
“I’m a strong believer you have to give kids a purpose on the field and off the field,” said Campbell, adding the team came together at the beginning of the season to come up with ideas of how they could make a difference among fellow students.
“Creating awareness of mental health was at the top of the list,” continued Campbell. “It’s very important to the team. A couple of them have struggled with mental health issues so this stands out, it speaks loudly to them.”
As team members discussed it more, Campbell said the idea was presented that some kids don’t feel comfortable going to their school counselors or don’t seek help because of insurance or cost, or even because they just don’t want anyone to know they are struggling, including parents.
“Mental health needs are something that can go unnoticed, so the team wanted to find a way to give fellow students the resources that would allow them to have access to help,” Campbell explained. “The goal is to raise money through the end of May and find counselors who would be willing to give ‘counselor coupons,’ for kids to have in their back pocket, so it’s available and they can seek help if needed.
“Recognizing that a lot of kids nowadays are financially responsible for themselves, or that some people just don’t know where to turn or where to go, we wanted to create an outlet for support so every child on the island has something,” she continued.
This “Island Strong” philosophy was on display Friday night in Coupeville.
“The heart was there, the support was there, and the unity was there – and it was cool,” Campbell said. “You never know who’s going to need help, but to have something available when they need it is huge.”
Should the “Strike Out the Stigma” fundraiser prove to be successful, Campbell said she could see it continuing.
“If we can get a good response and make this work, I would assume we would do it year after year,” she said. “Mental health hits home for a lot of people.”
As of Tuesday morning, the “Strike Out the Stigma” GoFundMe page total stood at $240. Those interested in donating may visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/strike-out-the-stigma-falcon-fastpitch-for-mh.