A high school hockey player is suing her team and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, alleging that they discriminated against her by banning her from competition after she told her coach about her mental health issues.
Morgan Urso tells NBC 5 that she feels most at peace when she is on the ice, but when she needed the game and her team the most, she says it was taken away from her.
“In 2019, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression,” she says.
Urso alleges in the lawsuit, filed against the AHAI and the Illinois Hockey Club, that her struggles with her mental health were held against her.
“My mom had gotten a call saying I was being removed from the team because I was considered a danger,” she says.
“We got word that he (her coach) had sent an email (saying) parents needed to limit their communication with Morgan, and that she was going to work on her mental health and not be a part of the team,” her mother adds.
Because of this, the Urso family filed a lawsuit, with their attorney saying the incident was a clear violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
“They can’t (ban her). She didn’t break rules, she didn’t violate any procedures,” attorney Charlie Wysong says. “It’s really cut and dry.”
Urso says that she has since joined another hockey team, one that she says allows her to embrace her story.
“I want to prevent the next kid who doesn’t have the resources that I have from going through this,” she says. “They always told us that ‘we are not a burden,’ and that isn’t a word we should think about ourselves, and hearing my coaching telling me this, it really hit hard.”
NBC 5 reached out to both the AHAI and Illinois Hockey Club for comment on the story. The AHAI is not commenting, citing the pending litigation, and NBC 5 did not receive a response from IHC.