Number of Participants: 37
Value of Time Served: $0
Event Amount Raised: $500
Event Type: Health & Safety
Sport: Girls Volleyball
Date: October 13, 2023
Salem High School
Willson Street, Salem
In recent years, the Salem Volleyball program has become increasingly involved in addressing the mental health crisis, driven by personal experiences. While they’ve always aimed to ensure their athletes have access to mental health resources within the school, the urgency of this conversation grew when one of their former athletes, Sarah “Sas” Starion, tragically passed away by suicide in May 2020.
Sarah’s loss profoundly impacted their program, prompting them to shift from passive support to making mental health a central focus. A year after Sarah’s passing, they organized a game in her memory, where they began openly discussing mental health. During this event, they retired her jersey, shared her story, and invited athletes, fans, and the community to continue Sarah’s legacy of kindness and compassion. Initially, their coaching staff led much of the conversation.
However, as they entered the following season, their athletes expressed a desire to hold another game in honor of Sas. They had traditionally organized a game in October to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research, but due to scheduling constraints, they offered their girls a choice: continue supporting breast cancer awareness or shift their focus to mental health. Remarkably, over 80% of the program voted in favor of redirecting their efforts towards mental health.
For the past two seasons (Fall 2022 and 2023), they have hosted a Mental Health Awareness game. Their program captains designed special green jerseys, and they conducted a ceremony where athletes discussed the stigma surrounding mental health and acknowledged that many of us face mental health challenges. Several athletes also shared reflections on “why mental health matters.” This year, they collaborated with Mental Makeover, a local nonprofit dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health. Founded by Salem HS alumni who knew Sas, Mental Makeover provides valuable resources to support local teenagers. They shared their mission and provided information and resources during the event.
All proceeds from donations and snack bar sales on this special evening are contributed to the Sarah Starion Memorial Scholarship at Salem HS. This scholarship is awarded to one graduating senior each year. Applicants are asked to reflect on their own experiences with mental health and contemplate Sas’ favorite quote: “your legacy is every life you touch.”
This year, they are proud to announce that they raised nearly $500 for the scholarship. Together, they are making a meaningful impact in honoring Sas’ memory and supporting mental health awareness.