Women’s lacrosse runs for love

Dan Pavlik, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor

Alexis Johnson | CAMPUS CARRIER

The women’s lacrosse team ran one million yards over the last few weeks for an organization called Yards for Yeardley. This organization raises awareness for domestic violence and relationship abuse in remembrance of Yeardley Love.

In order to perform at a high level, especially in college, it’s imperative that an athlete trains to the best of their ability. This includes developing individual skills, mental discipline, and strength and conditioning.

For the women’s lacrosse team, running and conditioning are key components of their sport. Even so, every athlete knows the feeling at the end of practice when coach says, “Okay, everybody on the line,” and each athlete will try to find an excuse not to run, but they do it anyway.

Shaun Williamson, head coach for women’s lacrosse, recognized this knowing that he still needed to keep his team in top shape, he needed to find a way to motivate his team so they would put everything they had into each conditioning session. That’s when he introduced Yards for Yeardley.

Yards for Yeardley is a nation wide fundraising program focused on raising awareness for relationship violence and abuse. Athletic teams from around the country have accepted the challenge to run a collective one million yards for awareness and remembrance of Yeardley Love. 

Love, for whom the program is named, was a University of Virginia lacrosse player whose life was tragically cut short by relationship violence in 2010. Shortly after her death, Love’s mother took action and Yards for Yeardley was born.

Since its debut, Yards for Yeardley has recorded over 130 million yards run  to raise awarenss for domestic abuse and relationship violence at Berry. The Women’s Lacrosse team is officially a part of that number. 

Running a million yards doesn’t just happen overnight, and Williamson had to adjust his normal practice plans in order to take on the challenge. 

 “It actually took place of our running program this year,” Williamson said. “A million yards is a lot of running, especially when you put it on 16 people.”

Those 16 lacrosse players endured an intense few weeks as they successfully ran a million yards. It didn’t come easy though. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you could find them at 6 a.m. jogging a brisk three miles. That turned out to be a warm up for what can only be described as “football-field-length suicides” that mixed jogging and sprints.

This is not your average, run-of-the-mill of running program, but the real message of how powerful a united group can be when shooting for a goal became evident to the women’s lacrosse team. Freshman attacker Ashley Merritt knew she would be running a lot this spring, but not in this way.

“Coming in, I had heard the conditioning was pretty tough,” Merritt said. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into until coach introduced the program to us.”

Yards for Yeardley benefitted the team in more ways than one as they ran for a good cause while getting in shape. Not only did the girls further their fitness in the process, but they also saw themselves grow as a collective group. For sophomore attacker Jessica Will, it made all the difference.

“We were running for more than just ourselves at that point,” Will said. “It really made us come closer together as a team.”

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