Joining the Movement in September 2016 as one of the first MM27 Ambassadors, Liam Hawel recognized how big mental health is in the world, especially wanting to become part of the Movement due to the role it plays in sports.
After playing a year and a half with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to start his OHL career and months before being selected in the fourth round (101st overall) by the Dallas Stars in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Hawel was traded to the Guelph Storm in January 2017 — an experience that the Arnprior, Ontario native says saw his “whole world turned around in a day.”
“I had to leave some of my best friends, and even the family I moved in with that I came to love just as much as my own,” Hawel explained of the trade. “Coming [to Guelph], I felt lost at first… I didn’t really know anyone, new city, new team.”
Hawel, however, was quick to list the amount of resources that made the adjustment easier to handle, from the coaching staff, to teammates, and his new billet parents.
“When you reach out, it makes this a lot easier than trying to keep it in yourself…”
“When you reach out, it makes things a lot easier than trying to keep it in yourself, and when you’re lonely, it’s 10 times worse,” Hawel offered. “Definitely just look to people that you love. It makes things way easier than keeping it up inside.”
Since, Hawel has gone through all new highs and lows of being an elite athlete. The MM27 Ambassador was a pivotal member of the Storm’s historic run to an OHL Championin in 2019, while a short month later, re-entered the NHL Draft. Now, the skilled, six-foot-five, 182-pound centre went through the second trade of his career, moving from crimson in the Royal City to Kitchener Rangers blue at the start of the 2019-20 season, putting his sights set on a new professional home, with nothing but motivation in mind.
Through everything, Hawel has always spoken out for mental health, including running a social media campaign of his own that saw him personally donate over $300 to the Movement in 2019.
“From the moment Liam got to Guelph, he showed that he was a guy you could count on for support in any situation no matter what. His leadership and effort in helping out however he can was a huge help in kickstarting the Ambassadors program,” McFadden said of his former teammate. “His passion for mental health and making a difference has allowed the Movement to grow through him as an integral part of making the conversation around mental health easier.”