VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds will honour the life and memory of Thunderbirds goalkeeper, Laura Taylor on Friday, January 6 prior to puck drop against the visiting Alberta Pandas. Taylor, tragically took her own life last April, just days before her 34th birthday.
Laura Taylor’s number 29 jersey will be retired by the Thunderbirds. The Taylor family will be part of a pre-game ceremony, as well as other on, and off ice components. Guests include UBC President and Vice Chancellor, Dr. Santa Ono, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dermot Kelleher, and UBC Department of Athletics Director, Gord Hopper.
The UBC Thunderbirds family want to shine the spotlight on mental health awareness issues and open a positive dialogue for anyone going through a tough time. The Thunderbirds have reached out to Bell Let’s Talk, and partners on the UBC campus. Coach Graham Thomas wants to remember Laura, and also help to anyone else struggiling.
“The overall goal besides remembering and honouring Laura, is also awareness for mental health,” said Thomas. “Just getting rid of that stigma and getting the awareness out there of starting the conversation. Bell-Let’s-Talk is involved, and there’s a bunch of partners involved on campus with mental health and suicide awareness. It’s obviously a great cause, and we’re getting a lot of athletes, people, and other groups behind it. Hopefully it will be a good turnout and a good event for awareness.”
Anyone who wants to make a donation to help raise awareness for mental health issues will be able to that at booths setup along the main concourse of the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Fans are encouraged to show support by wearing green. The Thunderbirds have also been given the go ahead for a chuck-a-puck fundraiser that will help raise money for mental health issues.
“We’re doing a new draw for all of our home games,” revealed Thomas. “It’s called chuck-a-puck. Fifty percent will go to the winner, and fifty percent of the proceeds in all the games will go to mental health awareness. They’ll have two or three different booths setup at the game, there will be opportunities to donate at the game and contribute to some different charities and foundations.”
People look up to athletes and think they’re invincible, that’s not the case. UBC Thunderbirds captain, Stephanie Schaupmeyer and her teammates have the ability to help raise awareness, and they want to help. A mental health issue can occur with anyone, it’s extremly important to speak openly about it and seek help if you need it.
“I think it’s so huge, especially as athletes,” said Schaupmeyer. “I think sometimes people think, we’re tough, we’re strong, we have our teammates, it doesn’t affect us. I think that couldn’t be more wrong. Mental illnesses aren’t discriminatory, and they aren’t picky about who they choose to trouble people with. I think it’s important that as athletes, we’re speaking up together.”
Laura’s time with the Thunderbirds was memorable. She was a leader and mentor and helped UBC win a silver medal at the 2016 CIS Nationals. Taylor might not have been on the ice for every game, but she was just as hard-working, passionate, and thrilled to be UBC Thunderbird.
“She was so dedicated, she loved hockey, loved the game, very smart, intelligent, caring, and helpful,” said Thomas. “(Laura) was acting in a mentorship role. She was going to be a neurosurgeon. As an older mature person, that’s the way she came in and that was her role and what she played into right away. She didn’t inform anybody about what she had gone through in her past, and what she was dealing with, which is the unfortunate part of the help piece. She was just so caring and giving, and thinking about others. We will always remember, appreciate, and respect that.”
When UBC looks to add to a fourteen game winning streak vs Alberta. They will no doubt have Laura cheering them on and supporting them from a far better place. That’s just the way Laura was with her teammates, excited, and ready for the next big team adventure.
“Laura was the kind of person that would light up a room when she walked in, said Schaupmeyer. “She had this insanely big contagious smile. She always had her phone out to document what was going on. She just loved being a part of the team, and we loved having her as part of the team. She will always be part of the team.”
Notes: #BellLetsTalk day is Wednesday, January 25, 2017.