Andover Teams Up With Sophie’s Band For ‘Hockey Hits Back’ Mental Health Awareness Night – The Rink Live

Andover, Minn. β€” β€œIt’s more than just a game,” Andover seniors Ella Burger and Madison Brown said as they prepared to host a mental health awareness game in partnership with Sophie’s Squad.

Sophie Weiland committed suicide in the summer of 2021 at the age of 14. The non-profit Sophie’s Squad was founded later that year with the goal of “improving the mental health of youth through college athletes by increasing awareness of mental health issues and removing the stigma associated with seeking help.”

The organization began hosting “Hockey Hits Back” nights, mostly at the high school and college levels, to spread the message that there is always hope and there is always help.

Andover will be competing in a big game on Saturday, January 7, against Proctor/Hermantown, but the main focus of the game won’t be winning on the ice β€” it will be to raise awareness of mental health and break stigma. About discussions about getting help.

Teal will be present in multiple aspects of the game, from duct tape to ribbons worn in players’ hair.

The organization’s message was more difficult for some members of the Andover team. Ella Borger, along with goalkeeper Courtney Stagman and junior Nora Sawyer, all played in the Sartell/Soak Rapids area, where Sophie Weiland lived and played.

Brown and Buerger

Andover adults Ella Burger and Madison Brown. Both players are committed to playing at the University of St. Thomas next season.

Contribution image.

“I’m from Sarteilles and I used to see her at the rink and see her family. I played several times with her older sister and my brother used to play with her brother,” Buerger said.

“It means a lot to me and the other girls on our team that we’re doing this for Sophie.”

Little forward Nora Sawyer’s father will throw a festive puck at the game. Nora played a season at Sartell/Sauk Rapids in 2019-20 before moving to Andover.

College women playing hockey

Minnesota-Duluth forwards Gabe Hughes (17) and St. Thomas forward Maya Almic (5) take the Sophie’s ceremonial puck at Amsoil Arena on Saturday, December 10, 2022, in Duluth.

Clint Austin/Duluth News-Tribune

Sophie’s Squad has participated in many private events since the group’s inception and more recently

Minnesota Duluth forward Gabe Hughes did much to educate the group


Both Boerger and teammate Madison Brown think it’s great to see older players spreading awareness about the issue, and both hope to continue to be part of the movement when they head off to college next year. Both skaters are currently committed to play Division I next season at the University of St. Thomas.

Both Brown and Buerger have struggled through a few injuries this season and have had to find ways to stay mentally strong when they can’t get out on the ice.

Brown broke her collarbone early in the season and has recently been cleared to begin skating again. “You just want to help the team as much as possible, so I just try to stay positive,” she said.

Boerger has recently had a sprained ankle and also had to find ways to stay positive when off the ice.

“It can be hard to see your teammates and close friends doing what you love, and you can take it for granted sometimes, but it makes you so much more grateful to finally play,” she said.

Hockey back

Hockey Hits Back bulletin January 7, 2023.

Contribution image.

Proctor/Hermantown is one of the best teams in Class A and they will travel to take on Andover, one of the best teams in Class AA, for the Hockey Hits Back game on Saturday, January 7th, at 2 p.m.

All proceeds from the event will go to Sophie’s Squad and those coming to the game are encouraged to wear teal to support the cause.

To learn more about Sophie’s Squad, their mission, and how you can support the cause, you can visit their website



Leave a Comment