by Katie Phelan, Trinity Communications
From April 29 to May 3, Trinity boys and girls lacrosse teams joined together for a common cause. The teams carried the mission of the One Love Foundation onto Trinity’s COBO Field, into their classrooms, and into their personal lives.
The One Love Foundation was founded to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a former Catholic student at Notre Dame Preparatory School, in Baltimore, Maryland, and an accomplished lacrosse player at the University of Virginia. Yeardley was murdered just weeks before her college graduation by her ex-boyfriend. One Love educates students about “healthy and unhealthy relationships, as both a primary prevention strategy for relationship abuse and as an investment in the relationship healthy of the next generation.”
While Yeardley’s death was the impetus for the Foundation, the fact is that “one in three women and one in four men experience relationship abuse in their lifetime. Young women ages 16-24 are at three times greater risk. Three women a day are killed by their partners in the U.S. alone,“ according to One Love’s website.
One way that One Love engages with the community to achieve its mission is through their “Escalation” workshop, a two-hour presentation that includes a film and a lengthy guided discussion. Mrs. Kathleen Wallace, a parent of two Trinity student-athletes (’19 and ’21), is friend of the Love family and a trained facilitator for One Love. Wallace led the boys lacrosse team through “Escalation” in 2017, and this year she did the same for the girls team.
The workshop, according to Wallace, has a far-reaching impact: “The sooner that students are aware of the signs of an unhealthy relationship and gain the tools necessary to navigate their way through and out of those safely, the better off all will be. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship, and I think it is important to note that One Love’s mission crosses socio-economic, gender, and racial lines.”
Wallace described the experience of leading the workshop as “emotional, intense, and personal,” but, of course, as vitally important, especially for young people. Students are in a time of their lives where social situations are of great importance to them, and, in addition to growing into a relationship with themselves, they are building relationships with friends and dating partners. They are also easily influenced and learning about their responsibilities to others.
Gloria O’Neil, a sophomore Trinity lacrosse player, experienced “Escalation” and spoke about her realization that appearances can be deceiving: “Yeardley’s story made me realize that not every relationship is perfect. It allowed me to see that abusive relationships can happen to anyone.” She was also surprised that the abuse in the case scenario seemed obvious, and yet those around the situation seemed unresponsive, including friends and family members. For Gloria, this threw into light the importance of talking to others, of reaching out for help, and of taking action when even small signs of abuse are noticed.
Danny Scott, a junior at Trinity who has verbally committed to play Division 1 lacrosse at Loyola University Maryland, agreed with the importance of intervening. “Escalation taught me warning signs and the importance of stepping in if I witness trouble.” Simple awareness of the situation was also important for Scott: “I didn’t know Yeardley’s story before learning about it at Trinity.” He believes learning about Yeardley’s story helps to promote awareness of relationship violence, which was another part of Trinity’s efforts over the course of the week.
Both the boys and girls teams dedicated games to Yeardley. This included announcements about Yeardley and One Love before the start of the games, the availability of educational items for spectators, and special “One Love” warm-up jerseys for the Trinity players before the game. All lacrosse players on the field, including Trinity’s opponents Bishop McDevitt (boys) and Central York (girls) wore “One Love” decals on their helmets, to help keep the game’s honoree in mind.
Drew Zak, a senior captain on Trinity’s team, spoke of the significance of remembering Yeardley, saying, “The dedication of the game means that the team is part of the solution, and that we want to be advocates for healthy relationships with our friends and teammates.”
Zak also spoke of Trinity’s greater mission of community service, a mission tapped by this One Love outreach. All proceeds from the game were donated to One Love, which will the Foundation to continue to educate individuals and communities.
The experience of being on an athletic team at Trinity is more than just winning a game, districts, or a state championship. It’s about forming bonds with teammates and coaches, and working toward goals bigger than one individual. Madison Tare, a senior captain with more than 300 career goals and 400 career points and a future Division 2 player at Florida Southern College next year, spoke of the opportunities for growth that have come to her through lacrosse, including “leadership opportunities and bonds with teammates.” Learning about healthy and unhealthy relationships is just one more lifelong benefit.