GREAT FALLS — As the Great Falls Americans hockey team begin their season, they do so without one of their own. Last July, 18-year-old goalie Vincent Marroni tragically took his life. Marroni was with the team for two seasons, and he was known as a teammate that took in the rookies and younger players to make them feel at home.
With September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month as well as the beginning of the Americans' hockey season, the team has come together to honor him and the positive energy he brought to the team.
“We know how much this means,” Americans forward Garret Weisenburger said. “It's just a whole different view this year of what we're trying to get done and how we're trying to do it.”
One of the ways in which they are honoring Marroni’s memory is with white ribbon stickers with his name on it as a reminder of who and what they are playing for this season.
The players understand the importance of diligently offering help to those who are struggling.
“It's extremely important because it can obviously be the difference between, you know, in Vinnie’s case, life and death,” defenseman A.J. Benit said. “It's so important to talk about things like that, especially if you're struggling so open up to somebody if you can.”
For Sears and the organization, once home games return to Great Falls, Marroni’s life will be honored throughout the Great Falls Ice Plex.
“He'll definitely be with us this year and we look forward to play[ing] in his memory a little bit and you know, hopefully down the line we can have some prevention games as well as suicide awareness and mental health games this year,” Sears said.
In addition to the team’s recognition of suicide prevention, Marroni's family has started a GoFundMe to directly cover costs for families and individuals in need of mental health care and treatment. You can also donate at miracleassist.org.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.