Updated with a statement from the Hilinski family.
With the future of Joe Albi Stadium in doubt, moving the Washington State Cougars football spring game back to Pullman seemed like a natural thing to do. It’s been in Spokane since the start of the Leach era but waning attendance combined with what is, at this point, a derelict stadium, made for a less compelling experience.
Today, the school announced what we thought they would: the game is moving back to Pullman in 2019. More than that though, the athletic department and WSU Student Affairs will be hosting “Gameday for Mental Health” to highlight mental health awareness and provide more information on suicide prevention.
“The Crimson and Gray Game will give us a platform to do something unique for our campus,” said athletic director Pat Chun in a release. “Bringing more awareness for suicide prevention and mental health is something very close to our hearts. This day will benefit our students, faculty, staff and greater community.”
Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review reports the team will also where a “3” decal and raise a flag with the same number before every game to honor Tyler Hilinski, the redshirt sophomore quarterback who took his own life in January.
“The Hilinski Family and Hilinski’s Hope is pleased to hear WSU is bringing greater awareness to mental health issues,” the Hilinski family told CougCenter via text message. “With the Spring Game coming back to Pullman, ‘Gameday for Mental Health’ is a positive way to address suicide and depression.
“We miss Tyler very much and we know Coug Nation does too. We are looking forward to raising Tyler’s 3 flag at Martin Stadium at the season home opener and watching it fly over the stadium all season long. We are touched by the Cougs’ love for Tyler and their insistence on remembering and honoring our son this way.”
The school still has a long way to go when it comes to something more comprehensive for all of their students, but this is a superb start. More information on the spring game itself will be released later in the year.
“We are all committed to bringing our Cougar family together to draw attention to the needs of our students, including our student-athletes,” said WSU Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales in a release.
If you or someone you know if having suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, please know that you are loved there is always someone to help you.
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
For WSU Students (24 hours): 509-334-1133 or text ‘HOME’ to 741741
Cougar Health Services: 509-335-4511