South Burlington boys basketball coach Sol Bayer-Pacht has always preached to his players the importance of giving back to the community and being a role model.
The Wolves will put that into practice on Friday, Jan. 25, when they host Burlington at 7 p.m.
South Burlington will host a “Mental Health Awareness” game, bringing attention to mental health with a speech written by the team, t-shirts for sale to fundraise and posters and halftime events to raise awareness.
“We played at BFA-St. Albans (in the first game of the season) and they were honoring a kid who had committed suicide,” Bayer-Pracht said. “It is something we have seen since day one this season.”
The team, which regularly volunteers, was approached by South Burlington Athletic Director Michael Jabour about doing something on mental health awareness.
The coach and team looked at the schedule and saw that the game against Burlington - always one of the biggest crowds of the season - was planned.
“It seemed like a good fit,” Bayer-Pracht said. “With this group, they really care. They are a great group to bring awareness. So often awareness is a first step but it is a huge step. I am excited for my guys to be role models.”
Sales from t-shirts will be donated to mental health causes and Bayer-Pracht is hoping to extend this effort past the high school level, having his players talk to younger athletes and spread the message that it is O.K. to take care of your mental health.
“We can show its okay to be vulnerable,” Bayer-Pracht said. “We have had those discussions for a couple of years now... I think it’s important that they give back and be leaders in their community.”
South Burlington will take on Burlington at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Any person who purchases a Mental Health Awareness t-shirt and wears it to the game will receive free admission to the game.