Teen kicked off hockey team after confiding in coach about her depression: lawsuit

John Garcia Image
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Teen kicked off hockey team after disclosing depression to coach: lawsuit
When Morgan Urso, 15, was getting treatment for severe depression and suicidal thoughts, she says she felt comfortable telling her coach. She did not expect his response.

LAGRANGE, Ill. (WLS) -- A teenage hockey player and her family have filed a lawsuit after they claim she was removed from her team after telling a coach about her mental health struggles.

Morgan Urso, 15, loves hockey. She's been playing since she was 4 years old. So when she was going through a tough time, getting treatment for severe depression and suicidal thoughts about a year and a half ago, she said she felt comfortable telling her coach. She did not expect his response.

"The next morning he had gone to the board and they had me, effectively had me removed from the team," Urso said.

That's one of the claims made in a lawsuit naming Team Illinois Hockey Club and Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois. The lawsuit accuses the organizations of discriminating against Urso's mental health disability.

The family said Morgan's doctors told them hockey was good for Morgan because the routine and the exercise helped her.

"Getting her out of bed and wanting to motivate her to participate in the day became that much harder because she had nothing to look forward to," her mother, Kelly Urso, said.

"It was definitely a setback," Morgan Urso agreed.

According to the suit, Morgan was informed she could rejoin the team with a doctor's letter clearing her to participate in 100% of all team activities and functions.

"They are covered by state laws against discrimination, right? They cannot treat kids - particularly, kick them out - because they have a mental health condition, which is a disability," attorney Charlie Wysong said.

The family dealt with the setback by forming Team Morgan, which has raised more than $50,000 for mental health treatment. And Morgan is now playing again - on a different team.

"We're doing it for the next person that comes to their coach so this doesn't happen to anybody else. Not just in hockey, but in all sports," said Nick Urso, Morgan's father.

The coach, who is not named as a defendant, said he always had a positive relationship with the Morgan and her family before this. He said, "I knew I had no background in what she was dealing with and I knew it wasn't something I was prepared to be helpful with."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach out to the National SuicidePrevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.