Women’s softball team promotes community awareness

Emily Glass | Fulcrum Contributor

Illustration by Mathias MacPhee 

THE UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa women’s softball team has been taking advantage of their home games to promote awareness for local causes. This is an annual project for the softball team, who pick a new social cause to promote each season. In previous years they have supported causes that raise awareness of breast cancer, mental health, and child soldiers in Uganda.

This year the team decided to promote the Youth Services Bureau, an Ontario organization that takes a collaborative approach to youth issues like homelessness, mental health, criminal justice, and employment.

Last weekend the team purchased and wore “Toques for Homeless Youth.” The money raised by the toques goes directly towards the Raising the Roof campaign, which works to lower homelessness through proactive community solutions. Scott Searle, head coach of the softball team, was inspired to take on social programming to give something back to the community.

“The UOttawa [softball] team recognizes their good fortune to be able to play a sport at a high level and are proud to help raise money and awareness for people who are not so lucky,” he explained.

A second initiative taken on by the team is the rainbow-coloured “acceptance bracelet,” worn in memory of Ottawa youth Jamie Hubley. Hubley committed suicide last year after struggling with depression and loneliness. He was also bullied for being the only openly gay teenager in his high school. Hubley’s parents—his father is Allan Hubley, an Ottawa city councillor—have recently joined the Youth Services Bureau (YSB) of Ottawa to help support mental health services. The rainbow bracelets, created by the YSB, are being sold by the team to keep acceptance in our hearts and on our wrists.

Grace Lonergan, second-year sociology student and catcher on the softball team, said these sorts of initiatives are important to her experience as a Gee-Gee.

“Each season that I play I look forward to participating in a new program as a part of our team responsibility. Once I am done playing with the Gee-Gees, I am confident that these experiences will encourage me to remain involved in community programs.”

Both Lonergan and her teammate Jean Cardona are proud of their team’s work and see opportunities for all Gee-Gees teams to become involved in community awareness through the attention that sports teams get on campus.

“It would be nice to see each one of the teams take on a social program … there are enough programs to be involved in,” said Lonergan.  “It is a great way as citizens to be involved in our community, and it would be nice to think all the Gee-Gees teams could make a difference.”

Cardona is the team’s pitcher and shortstop, and a second-year psychology major. She sees the popularity of sports as an avenue for raising awareness.

“Sports are popular to the public, and by using this popularity as an advantage, sports teams can get the word out about certain [issues] that need to be addressed. Other Gee-Gee teams should absolutely think about [getting involved] because then problems in the community can be made known and [teams can] help in having a positive impact for change.”