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‘Katie’s story is still making a difference:’ Stanford goalie celebrated

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline which provides confidential 24/7 support by dialing 9-8-8.

NEWBURY PARK, CALIF. – Katie Meyer would have turned 23 on Friday. If she had been here, this is what the former Stanford goalkeeper who took her own life could have seen:

About 50 people, including Katie’s parents and two sisters, holding hands as they formed a giant circle before a varsity girls soccer game at Newbury Park High School, where Katie Meyer once starred.

That human circle and everyone else in the stadium observing 19 seconds of silence for Meyer, who wore jersey No. 19.

Newbury Park’s players wearing a green butterfly patch on their jerseys to signify mental health awareness and Katie’s love for butterflies.

And on a mostly somber night, laughter breaking out among the Newbury Park players, including Meyer’s younger sister Siena, after a 5-0 loss to Oaks Christian.

“These are the moments I’m grateful for,’’ said Katie’s father, Steve, as he watched Siena and her teammates enjoy each other after losing to one of the top teams in the state. It was Katie whose laughter almost always was the loudest among her teammates at Stanford, where her saves helped lift the team to the national title in 2019.

It’s been almost 10 months since Siena lost the sister with whom she spent countless hours playing soccer.

“You know, now I’ve kind of realized over time that every game is like a privilege,’’ said Siena, a sophomore defender and Division I college prospect. “So this one felt especially special to be able to be on the field. And even though we lost by a lot, I was just grateful to be able to play.’’

In November, Katie Meyer’s family sued the university for wrongful death, according to a copy of the civil lawsuit obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Stanford has not responded in court documents.

But for the Meyers, Friday was not a night to discuss the legal proceedings. Instead, they continued to focus on using tragedy to help save others from the same fate.

At halftime, near the entrance of the stadium, Katie’s mother, Gina, stood behind a table with information about their initiative, Katie’s Save.

It would allow college students the option to choose a designated advocate who would be notified “when the student is involved in challenging circumstances where they may need extra guidance and support.’’

The Meyers say that option would have saved their daughter as she went through her disciplinary proceeding.

A few teenagers approached the table and inspected the piles of Katie’s Save wristbands along with stickers and temporary tattoos.

“Take stuff, take stuff,’’ Gina Meyer said, and the high schoolers did.

This month, Gina Meyer said, she and her husband talked at a half dozen schools about their initiative and continue to get positive feedback. More talks are scheduled as they continue to spread the message.

“You respect them so much for not only what they’re dealing with, but for them to reach out to others and help while they’re dealing with all this,’’ said Tim York, who has two daughters on the Newbury High varsity team.

His wife, Nisha, grew tearful as she reflected on the pregame ceremony.

Before it began, Gina Meyer used flameless tea lights to form her daughter’s old jersey number on the track around the field. She helped organize a large group photo behind the illuminated 19.

On a chilly night, the crowd of about 150 people included three of Katie’s former Stanford teammates, including Sophia Smith, the 2022 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

They joined the group of people who formed the circle at midfield before the game as the ceremony began. Captains bands were placed on each goal, as was done at Stanford this season before every game in honor of Katie, who was a team captain.

“A beautiful experience,’’ Nisha York said.

A similar ceremony played out at two other varsity girls soccer games in the area.

“Katie’s story is making a difference,’’ Gina Meyer said. “She’s making an impact. That’s the goal. And we keep saying if we can save one kid, help one kid, start the conversation, it’s all worth it.’’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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