The Castleton University women’s lacrosse team is going the extra mile this season to raise awareness and bring an end to relationship violence. Over the course of the season the squad has pledged to run five million yards and has chosen to dedicate their season to the cause.
“This year we wanted to make more of an impact than we have in the past,” said Head Coach Hannah Corkery.
For three years, the Spartans have supported the One Love Foundation, which was founded in memory of University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player, Yeardley Love, who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend in 2010. Through the Yards for Yeardley social media campaign, One Love aims to educate, spread awareness, and eventually end relationship violence, which according to national statistics will affect one in three women and one in four men.
“It doesn’t have to be physical. Relationship violence can be verbal, too,” reminds Corkery. “Typically, a team or school will do one million yards in a 30 day time frame with Yards for Yeardley. We have committed to doing five million over the season.”
In addition to Love’s story having a strong resonance with the women’s lacrosse community, the Spartans’ connection to the cause goes much deeper.
In May 2014, Corkery’s first season as head coach, then graduate assistant to the women’s lacrosse team, Caroline McManus, learned that her sister, Victoria, had been murdered by her ex-boyfriend in their Chicago apartment.
“I remember that day so vividly,” said Corkery. “It was awful and everyone felt it.”
Since that tragic spring day, the Spartans have honored the missions of Friends of Victoria, FOV, also recognized as Finding One’s Voice, and One Love in some capacity, including dedicating a game, selling wristbands, and having an information table at home games.
“It’s something really neat to be a part of,” Corkery said. “We wanted to make it bigger, so we dedicated our season to it.”
In addition to their five million yard pledge, Corkery said the Spartans will hang banners for FOV and One Love on their bench, and the coaching staff will sport Converse sneakers on their sidelines to honor McManus’s fashion staple.
The team also invites anyone interested to help them achieve their goal.
“You can post a picture on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter tagging @castletonwlax and say you ran, biked, walked, hiked, or whatever and how many miles for One Love in efforts to support the women's lacrosse team. We will post your picture on our account and calculate your miles to yards,” said Corkery.
She also added that those who are social media shy can also reach out to Corkery directly via email with their distance which can be added to the team total.
Just one month into the season, Corkery said the way the Castleton community has come together for the cause has become a strong source of motivation for her team.
“Every day our yards go up before we have even started ours at practice,” she said.
This spring the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, SAAC, will meet with a member of the One Love Foundation to learn about the warning signs of abuse and the ways to help bring about change. Then each SAAC representative will bring this knowledge back to their respective teams.
“It’s not just about the women’s lacrosse team,” said Corkery. “It’s about One Love, FOV, and Castleton.”