Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Reedley College's Jamel Pink, Humboldt's Megan Janikowski Earn CalHOPE Courage Awards
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 months ago on
November 30, 2023

Share

Pink persevered through the death of a brother and then an injury, and Janikowski worked through the loss of her mother to cancer.

(CalHOPE Courage)

The CalHOPE Courage Award is presented by College Sports Communicators (CSC) and CalHOPE, a crisis support resource for communities impacted by public health emergencies or national disasters, operated by the California Department of Health Care Services. The award recognizes student-athletes at California colleges and universities who have overcome the stress, anxiety, and mental trauma associated with personal hardships, injury or life circumstances.

CSC and an Associated Press panel selected the winners.

Pink’s journey from Reading, Pennsylvania, to Reedley College in Fresno County is a testament to his resilience to overcome tragedy, injury, and debilitating mental health challenges.

Pink was inspired by his older brother Jamain’s success playing football for Lincoln University near Oxford, Pennsylvania, However, both were shot in August 2020 and Jamain died. Jamel resolved to honor his brother and play college football. A friend suggested that he ask a coach at Reedley College for a tryout. He was accepted a week before the spring 2021 semester began.

After recording three sacks and six tackles in four games, his freshman season of 2021 was cut short due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in practice. Following surgery, Pink returned home for two semesters to rehabilitate while taking online classes. He experienced headaches, insomnia, and lack of appetite, and he spent most of his free time secluded.

He returned to Reedley focused on playing football and earning his degree. When athletic trainer Stacey Mendoza identified Jamel’s symptoms of depression, she encouraged him to seek professional help. Pink has followed a treatment plan of medication and therapy. While he admits he is still working through his challenges, he is feeling much more like himself.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end has appeared in seven games this season, with seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss. He will graduate in December and hopes to transfer to a four-year school and continue playing football.

“Throughout this journey, I have become very aware of how important your mental health is, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Pink said. “That’s why I advocate for seeking professional help. I aspire to be a role model for those dealing with mental health issues. My story is proof that resilience can triumph over despair.”

Janikowski Starts Foundation to Assist Cancer Families

Janikowski struggled following her mother’s death from metastatic brain cancer in January 2021, distancing herself from friends and family and questioning whether she could continue to play soccer.

She was a freshman at Eastern New Mexico University when she learned of her mother’s diagnosis and transferred to Cal Poly Humboldt to be closer to home. While her teammates’ camaraderie and support did not replace that of her mother, it did help rekindle her passion for the game and life. Despite the toll on Megan’s mental health, her mother’s memory helped guide her and motivated her to uplift those around her.

With the support of eight of her mother’s friends, she established the Heather Janikowski Foundation to assist families affected by cancer. During the past two years, they have helped cover the treatment and medical costs of 20 families and groups through events such as Cal Poly Humboldt’s annual “Pink Game.”

Megan purchased pink jerseys this season and her teammates dyed their socks pink and decorated the field before the “Pink Game” to show their support for people affected by cancer.

Janikowski started all 20 games and averaged 87 minutes per game to earn All-California Collegiate Athletic Association second team recognition as a center-back. The Lumberjacks had a record-breaking 11 shutouts and 13 wins as well as a historic victory in the CCAA tournament.

“Throughout these past few years, I’ve realized how important it is for your mental health to keep family and friends close,” Janikowski said. “I want to continue to share my story so others going through what I went through can see that things will get better. I hope to continue to advocate for student-athletes facing mental health challenges.”

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Cruisin’ Through Kingsburg’s 29th Annual Car Show

DON'T MISS

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

DON'T MISS

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

DON'T MISS

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

DON'T MISS

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

DON'T MISS

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

DON'T MISS

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

DON'T MISS

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

DON'T MISS

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

DON'T MISS

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

UP NEXT

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

UP NEXT

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

UP NEXT

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

UP NEXT

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

UP NEXT

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

UP NEXT

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

UP NEXT

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

UP NEXT

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

UP NEXT

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

UP NEXT

Legislation Pandering to Tribal Casinos Is a Bad Bet for Fresno Cardroom Employees

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

16 hours ago

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

16 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

16 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

17 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

18 hours ago

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

Local Education /

20 hours ago

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

20 hours ago

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

20 hours ago

Legislation Pandering to Tribal Casinos Is a Bad Bet for Fresno Cardroom Employees

21 hours ago

About 1 in 4 US Adults Over 50 Say They Expect to Never Retire, an AARP Study Finds

22 hours ago

Cruisin’ Through Kingsburg’s 29th Annual Car Show

Kingsburg — Hey there, hot rod fans! This past weekend, we turned the clock back and hit the streets for the 29th Annual Kingsburg Car Show ...

3 hours ago

3 hours ago

Cruisin’ Through Kingsburg’s 29th Annual Car Show

Animals /
3 hours ago

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

15 hours ago

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

16 hours ago

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

CA District 27 Assembly candidate Joanna Garcia Rose
16 hours ago

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

16 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

17 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

18 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend