OPINION: Hope never sinks

Team will honor Tyler on senior night; more needs to be done



Then-redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski looks for a receiver against Boise State on Sept. 9, 2017 in Martin Stadium. Hilinski led WSU to a 47-44 comeback win.

SHAYNE TAYLOR, Evergreen reporter

As someone who has lost a brother to suicide, I will be the first to say it is easy to sweep things under the rug in an attempt to move forward, but it is nearly impossible to grow from it when you put it out of sight. 

As a student at WSU, I will say that this school, city and community has a far better reputation when it comes to awareness of mental health and suicide than other institutions and communities I have been around.

Junior advertising major Alex Brady said that he has close friends who suffer from mental illness and sees how college negatively affects their mental health.

“The thing with mental illness and suicidal thoughts is they are internal problems, and many of the people dealing with this do not go out and look for help,” Brady said.

With that in mind, why is it that we are not staying true to that reputation and doing far more to honor a former Cougar who we lost almost two years ago?

Tyler Hilinski was a former student and quarterback for WSU who died by suicide in January 2018. His family created Hilinski’s Hope following his death. This foundation was made with the intent to spread awareness of mental illness, especially to those who are student-athletes.

The WSU community needs to continuously make efforts to honor Tyler, the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation and mental health as a whole. 

The last home football game takes place Saturday against Oregon State. This will also be senior night, and Tyler would be a member of this year’s senior class.

In a press conference on Nov. 11, head coach Mike Leach said he and the staff always planned to celebrate Tyler on senior night, and it is something they never thought twice about.

“We have always from the beginning planned to have Tyler a part of everything this class celebrated and did together just because that was his class,” Leach said.

Tyler’s family will be in attendance for the game to honor Tyler, and this could be a perfect time to begin a tradition that is long overdue in Pullman.

Universities across the nation have demonstrated different ways to honor Tyler. One of the standout examples of this is holding up three fingers when entering the third quarter. Three was the number worn by Tyler during his time at WSU and the number his younger brother, Ryan Hilinski, wears at University of South Carolina.

The impact of that gesture stretches far beyond USC’s home crowd. Before USC faced the University of Georgia, a parent posted the idea to hold three fingers up before and after the first play of the third quarter to Georgia’s athletic Facebook page. The Bulldogs’ fans followed through, sending an impactful and positive message.

WSU can and should do a better job of following this example. Many WSU fans wear the Hilinski Hope bracelets to honor Tyler, but it is time to do more. 

Fans holding up three fingers to start the third quarter would be a great start, but I also think retiring the number three football jersey is long overdue and would be another way of moving forward to show our support.

It is a great gesture that would pay respect to Tyler and his family. It also shows that Tyler’s life will continue to be celebrated at a place where he was once known as The Comeback Kid. This is a gesture that is commonly practiced in sports at all levels to honor those who earned great achievements or to honor those who died.

We need to continue talking about Hilinski’s Hope because not everyone is fully informed. For example, The State newspaper in South Carolina ran an inappropriate headline that they did not know was in reference to the foundation following a loss. The headline read “Hilinski Hope Sinks.”

The State sent out a series of apology tweets the following day, but the damage was already done.

This is a perfect example of why it is time to take greater action in bringing attention to mental health issues and suicide, and I think it could start with a positive gesture at future football games that would honor Tyler, one of our own.

Olivia Johnston, freshman interior design major, said promoting suicide hotlines would be another great step toward keeping the topic of mental health relevant.

“Keeping his name relevant so that the issue does not go unnoticed is also very important,” Johnston said.

Becoming more aware of mental illness and how important it is to make continuous efforts to prevent future tragedies is what the WSU community should strive to excel at. If we come together to take the first step as one, I am optimistic that we can become the community we are meant to be while honoring those who are no longer with us on the way. Hope never sinks.