Ten years ago, the lacrosse community and the public were shocked to learn of the murder of Yeardley Love, a member of the University of Virginia women’s lacrosse team. Love was a victim of relationship violence, murdered by her former boyfriend, who is now in prison.

Earlier this month, a new statue of Love was unveiled at US Lacrosse’s national headquarters in Sparks, Maryland, paying tribute to the young player whose life was tragically and needlessly cut short just three weeks before her college graduation. She was 22 years old.

"Certainly, Yeardley represented the best of our sport in terms of student-athlete, and that tragedy was an incredible wake-up call to the challenge of intimate partner violence," said Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse.

Commissioned by the One Love Foundation, the bronze statue depicting Yeardley with lacrosse stick in hand is perched atop a hillside overlooking USL’s Tierney Field. Finding the right location for the statue, created by sculptor Brian Hanlon, was very important for the Foundation. 

“We looked at parks and some other different locations, but then US Lacrosse offered to have the statue there,” said Sharon Love, Yeardley’s mother. “And since Yeardley loved lacrosse so much, it was the perfect home.”

The One Love Foundation was established by Yeardley’s family following her death, and seeks to educate young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, empowering them to identify and avoid abuse and learn how to love better. 

Statistics shared by the Foundation note that over 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be in an abusive relationship at some point. Additionally, females between the ages of 16-24 experience intimate partner violence at a rate that is almost triple the national average.

“We are very happy and proud to have Yeardley’s legacy live on through the One Love Foundation and are thrilled to have her statue at US Lacrosse,” said Sharon Robinson, chair of the One Love Foundation Board and Love’s cousin. “Yeardley loved to play lacrosse, and USL hosts many visitors each year who we hope will be inspired by the good work of One Love.”

The plaque on the granite base that support the statue reads, “In honor of Yeardley Reynolds Love who exemplified kindness throughout her life and continues to inspire us all through the work of the One Love Foundation.”

A quote from author Margaret Mead is also on the memorial. It reads, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

“We started One Love with just a handful of people who knew and loved Yeardley, and now it is a national leader in educating the next generation on relationship health,” Robinson said. “We have thousands of volunteers across the country who are working hard to make a difference. The power of one person can change the world. That’s the story of One Love.” 

Stenersen is pleased that US Lacrosse can provide a visible platform to help further the discussion and awareness of One Love’s mission.

"Through the One Love Foundation, the family saw this incredible opportunity to raise the profile of this issue, not just within lacrosse, but within all sport and within all society, and it has been a tremendous legacy for Yeardley as a result," Stenersen said. "I hope the people that visit the statue learn of the incredible passion she had for the sport, what an incredible person she was, and how tragic the circumstances were that could happen to anybody," Stenersen said.

To learn more about the One Love Foundation and to access its resources, please visit www.joinonelove.org/about
 

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