2018 Pac-12 Football Media Day: Assembled together for the first time, Pac-12 remembers Tyler Hilinski's lasting memory
It may have been small and subdued, but to those who were looking, Chip Kelly's blue wristband was a powerful symbol of support for an issue far greater than football.
UCLA's first-year coach, appearing at 2018 Pac-12 Football Media Day on Wednesday, went through his numerous media appearances with a "Hilinski's Hope" wristband, which raises awareness and funds for the foundation started on behalf of Tyler Hilinksi, the former Washington State quarterback who died by suicide earlier this year.
All throughout the Hollywood & Highland venue, in fact, Hilinski's memory was evident. Student-athletes used the big stage to continue fighting the stigma around mental health in sports.
UCLA's Josh Woods, who was Hilinski's high school teammate, spoke with Pac-12 Networks' Ashley Adamson and delivered a powerful message of understanding for anyone who may be experiencing similar mental health struggles. Woods said he addressed his Bruins teammates after Hilinski's passing to share his own perspective on the topic.
"I told the team, 'If you're ever going through anything, come to me, you can always come to me,'" Woods said. "You want to communicate with people around you. Be genuine and ask how people are doing. ... You want to be real about it."
Mental health is very important. Never be afraid to reach out to those around you. Check up on your loved ones and make sure they are doing fine. Show genuine care @HilinskisHope I love you Ty https://t.co/BIOD6S9RqU
— Josh Woods (@_WOODSY_J) July 26, 2018
That message was amplified by Cougars head coach Mike Leach when he appeared on Pac-12 Networks set with Mike Yam and Yogi Roth. There, his message was unwavering — that WSU should strive for excellence in 2018 and always to honor Hilinski.
"We're all proud of the experience to have known Tyler and the way he would light up the group," Leach said. "The other thing is we want to also honor Tyler by being the best that we can be, the best team that we can be. And I think most on our team feel this way."
"We want to also honor Tyler by being the best we can be."
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) July 25, 2018
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and thoughts of suicide, reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).