Lawsuit: Suburban teen kicked off hockey team after sharing mental health struggles

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LAGRANGE, Ill. — A lawsuit has been filed against a girls’ hockey team after one of the players alleges she was banned due to telling the coach about her mental health struggles.

Morgan Urso, 15, and her mother, Kelly, spoke with Team Illinois coach Larry Pedrie about her struggles in November 2019, the lawsuit states.

The next day, Urso claims Pedrie and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois banned her from all team practices, games and forbid teammates from communicating with her.

“That Wednesday, I told him I was experiencing suicidal thoughts and I was attending an outpatient program five days a week,” Urso said. “That night, he was really supportive and told me if I needed to sit out I could whatever I needed. The next morning, my mom got a phone call from him saying he’d gone to the board and had me removed from the team because I was considered a danger.”

Urso said Pedrie sent an email to the rest of the team’s parents saying that it would be in her best interest to work with her mental health providers and not participate in any team activities, since no one on the team was equipped to provide the help Morgan needs. It went on to say teammates shouldn’t have the carry the burden of Urso’s “personal struggle.”

“We do know the last thing we want is to see our kids upset and carrying the burden of a teammate’s personal struggle,” the email states.

The lawsuit states that Urso briefly returned to Team Illinois a month later, but claimed an adult was following her around at all times.

Going to many Blackhawks games, Urso was impressed by how open former goalie Robin Lehner was with his mental health struggles. He is an advocate for the #SameHere mental health initiative and Urso has been able to raise over $50,000 for it.

“It’s something you shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about,” Urso said.

Urso is seeking injunctive relief and damages, according to the lawsuit.

At this time, Team Illinois hasn’t replied to a request for comment and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois said they have no comment at this time.

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