CORTLAND, N.Y. - The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has partnered with the One Love Foundation to raise awareness about the warning signs of abuse and activate communities across the conference to work to change the statistics around relationship violence. In the next few weeks, SAAC representatives from each of the 10 SUNYAC athletic departments will be orchestrating a Yards for Yeardley event on each of their campuses with hopes of reaching SAAC's personal goal of 10 Million Yards for Yeardley.
On May 3rd, 2010, Yeardley Love of the University of Virginia women's lacrosse team was brutally beaten to death by her deranged former boyfriend and member of the men's lacrosse team. Since that fatal day, Yeardley's mother, Sharon Love developed the One Love Foundation in response to her tragic loss to raise awareness about the consequences of relationship violence. Through the use of workshops on college campuses, including an app individuals can download, the foundation has created innovative ways to make people aware of this important issue.
One of the ways college campuses are aiding in the efforts to raise awareness about relationship violence is by initiating and participating in the Yards for Yeardley campaign. The campaign challenges student-athletes and campus communities from around the country to attempt to run one million yards in Yeardley's memory. According to JoinOneLove.org, the campaign has seen 132,729,955 total yards ran across college campuses.
That number will soon see at least another 10 million yards added to its current count, as the SUNYAC is set to be the first conference to have all its members participate in Yards for Yeardley. Specifically, each SUNYAC member will attempt their own one million yards and collectively raise awareness of relationship violence.
To put the conference's 10 million yards into perspective, a walk from New York to California is roughly 2,756 miles and 10 million yards converts to about 5,682 miles; that's a distance that would get you to the sandy Pacific shores and back to Times Square with a few extra yards to catch a Broadway show.
Optimistic about exceeding the 10 million yards and what it would mean to reach that goal, SUNYAC SAAC President Ed Suriano explains, "When we reach the 10 million yards, and surpass it, which I'm certain we will do, it would mean an incredible deal to me personally...it would make me extremely proud of the student-athletes who I've worked with over the past year."
Initial conversations were first conducted at the conference level, but from there the SUNYAC SAAC Executive Board took over. At last April's SUNYAC SAAC Spring Retreat, student-athletes were introduced to the foundation's Escalation Workshop, where they were able to learn about relationship violence and how they could help raise awareness. From there, SUNYAC SAAC has been working diligently over the past year, attending conference calls and meeting together in person to work towards their goal.
SUNYAC SAAC Vice President of Legislation, Oswego's Sean Maloney describes his anticipation by saying "Now that we're here in the month of April, we're really excited to get to this event and be able to put this on and make it successful. I know we're going to reach our goal of 10 million yards together."
"I think that this goal of ending domestic violence on college campuses is something that hits very close to home, especially here in the SUNYAC," says SUNYAC SAAC Alternate, Fredonia's Ben Chatley.
Chatley refers to the recent fatal tragedies that happened within the SUNYAC community at both Brockport and Geneseo. On September 29th, 2012, on the campus of Brockport, Alexandra Kogut was brutally beaten to death by her former boyfriend inside her dorm room. Kogut was a freshman on the Brockport swimming & diving team and was in her first month of attending Brockport. On the morning of January 17, 2016, tragedy unfolded again in Geneseo, N.Y. which resulted in Geneseo senior men's ice hockey player Matt Hutchinson and senior women's basketball player Kelsey Annese losing their lives during an apparent double murder/suicide involving a distraught ex-boyfriend.
On Thursday, April 20, Oneonta will kick start the SUNYAC's 10 Million Yards for Yeardley initiative. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Red Dragon Field on the campus of Oneonta, all members of the campus community are encouraged to come out, run, and be a part of the fight to end domestic violence.
Dont forget to Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat your photos and videos from this event. Use the hashtags #OneSUNYOneLove, #sunyacsaac, #onelove, and #sunyonelove.
Here is a full list of dates, times and locations for each member institution's YFY event:
|College||Date of YFY||Event Hours||Location|
|Brockport||Wednesday, April 26th||9 AM - 5 PM||Brockport Rugby Field|
|Buffalo State||Sunday, April 30th||9 AM - 3 PM||COYER Field|
|Cortland||Sunday, April 30th||12 - 5 PM||Stadium Complex-Red Field (Football Field)|
|Fredonia||Wednesday, April 26th||9 AM - 5 PM||Roadway surrounding Dods/Steele Halls|
|Geneseo||Wednesday, April 26th||11 AM - 6 PM||ISC Focal Point (Next to college green)|
|New Paltz||Tuesday, April 25th||9 AM - 5 PM||Old Main Quad|
|Oneonta||Thursday, April 20th||9 AM - 5 PM||Red Dragon Field - SUNY Oneonta Campus|
|Oswego||Thursday, April 27th||9 AM - 6 PM||Middle Campus Quad|
|Plattsburgh||Friday, April 28th||12 - Dark||Memorial Hall Field|
|Potsdam||Monday, April 24th||12 - 5 PM||Academic Quad|