This is Sideline Stories. A platform where NE10 student-athletes can share their collegiate experiences in an unfiltered environment - using their voices to promote growth and positive change in our league and overall in NCAA Division II athletics.
Saint Michael's senior William Santangeli has made the most of his experiences in Vermont, as a student-athlete and through his involvement in the community. He shares his thoughts in this edition of Sideline Stories:
Santangeli is originally from Oakville, Ontario.
Growing up my parents always encouraged my two brothers and I to get involved with extracurriculars. They believed that having a passion outside the classroom, whether it be music, sports, or robotics, would prepare us to live happier and more successful adult lives. My dad has been my role model my entire life and my mother is the smartest person I know, so, I took their word for it.
Around the time I was entering high school I decided to commit myself to the goal of playing college hockey. This was a common goal for a teenager in the Greater Toronto Area, yet it was a bit different for me. On the horizon of my senior and final season of hockey ever, I’m more than comfortable to say I’ve never been the most skilled hockey player. So, this was an especially lofty goal. This meant that in order to become a college hockey player, I always had to work a little harder.
Santangeli (left) was named an assistant captain for the 2019-20 season.
As a result, I spent the majority of my adolescence grinding towards a goal that I was told would open doors. Yet throughout a lot of this period it didn’t feel like I was opening any doors. I didn’t see this concept of sports making you a well-rounded person come to fruition until I became a student-athlete at Saint Michael’s College.
In the last four years at this institution I have discovered more about myself and the human experience than I could’ve envisioned. The type of community that exists at St. Michael’s has challenged me to become a better person because of all the genuine and empathetic people I have met here.
Santangeli skiing with teammate, Tim Decker.
My first two friends at Saint Michael’s were Justin McKenzie and Danny Divis, winners of the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award. They co-founded a group called Hope Happens Here with the goal of fighting the stigma around mental health of student athletes. At that time, I knew little of mental health and didn’t realize the way it would end up changing my life.
The movement they started on our campus allowed for me in recent years to learn to cope with an anxiety disorder and to now become comfortable sharing my experience with it in the hopes of helping others. I can’t imagine how much harder it would’ve been to deal with this had Danny and Justin not sought to make such a difference in the lives of the people around them.
Santangeli has been involved with Hope Happens Here, an organization with the goal of fighting the stigma around mental health for student-athletes.
In 2016, members of our team marched in the Burlington Pride Parade. The amount of people who were shocked to see a men’s college hockey team marching, and came up to thank us for doing so, made a lasting impression on me. Every year since then, I have organized a group of St. Mike’s student-athletes to march in the Burlington Pride Parade in hopes that LGBTQ student-athletes feel welcome and accepted at our school. At the 2019 Burlington Pride Parade, over 100 student-athletes joined our team in marching.
Over the past year friends of mine created a group called TBC, which hopes to clear the blurred lines surrounding sexual assault on college campuses. The group is led by three amazing female student-athletes and they are another example of people at this institution who want to make a difference in the lives of other people. Since the group’s inception, numerous other student-athletes have been eager to help them instill positive change.
It’s hard not to be inspired when you’re surrounded by people like that all the time.