New club talks student-athlete mental health

GAMA will bring together student-athletes to lift each other up and talk about mental health

Stef Chiguluri, Sports Editor

The Generals Athlete Mental Awareness Club (GAMA) announced their launch last Monday on Instagram (@gama.wlu). GAMA focuses on bringing student-athletes together to feel a sense of community and support according to their first post. 

Baseball player Evan Blair, ’25, and wrestler Nic Zamaloff, ’25, started the club together with other friends from various teams. They realized Washington and Lee lacked a place on campus for student-athletes to address mental health together. 

Sophia Caffrey, ’25, lacrosse player and social media representative, said that there was no significant moment that sparked the decision to form this club. The founding members wanted to form GAMA to get ahead of the mental health crisis that has been plaguing college sports over recent years. 

Five top tier college athletes took their own lives last spring, according to The Washington Post. 

“It was really concerning to a lot of athletes and a lot of the athletic community on why that might be happening. So, we think it’s a good idea to start that conversation now and really get behind it before anything tragic happens,” Caffrey said. 

The club has at least one representative from each varsity team on campus. The founding members are in the early phases of their planning. They hope to partner with outside organizations such as Morgan’s Message. 

The Morgan’s Message site says they strive to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health within the student-athlete community and equalize the treatment of physical and mental health in athletics

Morgan Rodgers was a Duke women’s lacrosse player. She suffered a devastating knee injury right before starting her sophomore season. Various factors such as isolation, anxiety and depression led her to suffer in silence during her recovery according to Morgan’s Message. She died by suicide July 11, 2019, at the age of 22.

Caffrey said that partnering with outside resources will help provide a platform to talk about mental health in a productive way. 

GAMA’s first event will likely be community-centered, such as a movie screening or dinner, so everyone can get together and discuss mental health issues happening within the W&L community. 

Student-athletes can fill out the GAMA interest form which can be found in the bio of @gama.wlu on Instagram. GAMA members will be sending out more information regarding the club to those who fill out the form, and they will be posting updates on Instagram.