Movember campaign allows UMass hockey team to bring awareness to men’s mental health

  • Colin Felix is among about a dozen UMass hockey players growing mustaches this month to raise money for the Movember Foundation to raise money and awareness in support of men's mental health. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • Colin Felix is among about a dozen UMass hockey players growing mustaches this month to raise money for the Movember Foundation to raise money and awareness in support of men's mental health. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS—Chris Tucci

Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2021 7:57:42 PM

AMHERST — Facial hair and hockey go way back. Players have eschewed shaving during the postseason to grow “playoff beards” until they win the title or are eliminated since the Detroit Red Wings began the tradition in the mid 1980s. 

The UMass hockey team is focusing their follicles on another goal: the Minutemen are growing mustaches this November to raise money and awareness for men’s mental health through the Movember Foundation. They announced the campaign with an Instagram video Monday with the goal of raising $4,000. Donors blew by that mark so quickly, it had to be bumped to $5,000 almost immediately.

“Obviously, the mustaches are kind of funny to see, but it’s a really good cause,” UMass alternate captain Colin Felix said. “Obviously, we’re trying to raise as much money and awareness as possible.”

Backup goalie Henry Graham originally conceived the idea since he’s done it with other teams, and he brought it to UMass’ captains as a possibility for the Minutemen. The leadership group quickly warmed up the idea. 

“A bunch of guys automatically jumped on board,” Felix said. 

UMass coach Greg Carvel said he donated to the cause but won’t be participating in the effort. He has to keep clean shaven to keep the peace at home.

“My family instantly yells at me if I don’t shave after two or three days,” Carvel said. “Anything close to a mustache comes above my lip and they hound me.”

While the players enjoy the novelty of the mustache, they also deeply recognize the reason for doing it and why they’re raising money. In the Instagram video, the Minutemen mentioned one in 10 men experience depression, and a man dies by suicide every minute. 

“Especially being Division 1, athletes these kids deal with a lot of stress. Part of being a coach is being aware of how kids are doing mentally and emotionally,” Carvel said. “We have great resources here at UMass. We try to be very aware and very supportive and understanding how difficult the challenges that we provide for them, and the standards that we set can be very challenging.”

Carvel and his staff made sure to check in with the team regularly last year when they were isolated by COVID-19 protocols. 

“We were good about asking players where they were emotionally. It think that’s something that should be commonplace,” Carvel said. “Movember is a great opportunity for all of us to bring awareness to it. It’s important.”

Participating in Movember can also help bring together a team still integrating new pieces. It’s giving them a collective goal to work toward outside the rink, as well.

“I think when everyone shows up with more hair on their face it gets some laughs,” said Ryan Sullivan, sporting a dark, Freddie Mercury homage on his upper lip. “It’s definitely good bonding. It’s been fun.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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