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Student athletes go the distance for a cause

As part of an initiative to raise awareness about sexual assault, the Hofstra Athletics Department united on Friday, April 20 to take part in the nationwide “Yards for Yeardley” event.

Yards for Yeardley was first founded in December 2014 by three student athletes at Boston College and the University of Virginia in honor of Yeardley Love, a victim of sexual violence. Love was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just a few weeks prior to her graduation from the University of Virginia in 2010.

According to the organization’s official website, “Her death was avoidable if anyone in her life had truly understood the unhealthy and increasingly dangerous relationship behaviors they were seeing.” The organization, One Love, inspires individuals across the country to support their mission to end relationship abuse through the power of education.

The event was hosted by the Athletics Department with help from It’s On Us. The goal for the day was to have everyone walk, jog or run a total of 1 million yards on the field.

“A lot of people might be dealing with this and just don’t know how to voice their opinions on this issue,” said Rachelle Fabre, the assistant director of Athletics/Student Athlete Services and Life Skills Development.

According to Fabre, some participants attended an escalation workshop on Thursday night to learn more about signs of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Fabre explained that this is her second year in charge of organizing the event. “I think it’s imperative that we continue to do this,” she said.

“This is one of these things where every year we’re trying to build it up and get more people,” said Michael Hughes, a senior physical education and health major. Hughes, a varsity wrestler, also serves as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “It’s definitely been effective in the past years,” Hughes said.

Organizers of the event were not fundraising, but working to bring attention to sexual assault by educating participants. Attendees showed up, either alone or with friends, wrote their name down and told a volunteer how many times they walked back and forth on the field. One time back and forth counted as 200 yards.

Participation in the event was mandatory for athletic teams. Teams that were at away games on Friday submitted their yards in order to be part of the overall count. According to Fabre, the men’s lacrosse team completed 51,000 yards and were able to send them in despite leaving the morning of the event.

Other on-campus organizations also participated to help meet the 1 million yard goal. “I’m participating with the Resident Assistants [RA] of Alliance Hall,” said Mason Mitchell, a sophomore biomedical engineering major.

Nicole Starecheski, a sophomore pre-med and psychology major, also attended the event with the RAs. Starecheski did not know about the organization prior to the event. “We just wanted to get together and show support,” she said. For Starecheski, Yards for Yeardley was one of the few programs that she could participate in with a group during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Fabre emphasized the importance of this event on campus. “I think it’s just great to have the whole Hofstra community come together and support each other in just a positive way.”

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