The One Love Foundation, the national leader in relationship education, is thrilled to announce the winners of the Yeardley Reynolds Love (“YRL”) Unsung Hero Award. Established in 2011, the YRL Unsung Hero Award celebrates the selfless acts of initiative, commitment and teamwork demonstrated by collegiate lacrosse players. For the first time since the award’s inception, the candidate pool has grown to include Division I, II and III student-athletes, all recognized for their dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship – all traits that characterized Yeardley’s presence in the lacrosse community. Six student-athletes were chosen to receive the YRL Unsung Hero Award; one female and male from each division.
One Love was established to honor Yeardley Love, a UVA lacrosse player, after her death in 2010, with the mission to change the statistics around relationship abuse by giving every young person a foundational understanding of the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
The Foundation has been successful in educating students around the country on how to identify early warning signs and to navigate potentially unhealthy situations. One Love is honored to award six student-athletes with the Unsung Hero Award as it places value on positive leaders who help their team achieve success in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls.
“We are so proud to honor these outstanding student-athletes with the Yeardley Love Unsung Hero Award. They epitomize the ideals of college athletes in that they are team-players, accomplished students, and active in their communities. We also want to thank all of the programs that have submitted nominees – each was amazing in a different way. We have great hope for the future when we meet such exceptional future leaders,” said Sharon Robinson, Yeardley’s cousin and head of the Unsung Hero Award committee.
Below are the 2018 Yeardley Love Unsung Hero Award Winners:
Senior Erika Mazer of Lafayette College turned a career-ending injury into an opportunity to lead as she was elected as a student assistant coach her senior year for her “team first” mentality and dedication to the success of each player. Her tenacity and belief that leadership comes in all shapes and forms is revealed in her ability to deeply connect with her teammates and inspire them to own their personal leadership styles for the betterment of the team. Respected and looked up to by all, she is a reminder that leadership extends beyond the confines of the field. A Plantation Acres, Florida native, Mazer plans to continue to serve in whatever capacity she can.
Senior Matt Behrens of Georgetown has used his platform as a student-athlete to address social justice and racial/gender norms issues on campus and beyond. His teammates commend his vocal, selfless and inclusive leadership style as he orchestrated programs and initiatives to all Georgetown student-athletes that address gender and health in sports. A native of Bronxville, NY, Behrens is heading to law school post-grad in hopes of using his time and talent to address social justice issues across America.
Shannon Mazza of Florida Southern College is dedicated to giving back in all aspects of her life. Coach Kara Reber calls her “the essence of a team player who celebrates her team’s accomplishments far more than her own.” On the field, Shannon is an attacker and the one her teammates can see hustling on every possession. Off the field, Shannon has galvanized her team to get involved with Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine event, and to volunteer at the Children’s Cancer Center. Shannon is working to become a pediatric nurse, a profession in which her compassion, uplifting spirit and work ethic will serve her patients well. Shannon hails from King’s Park, NY.
Senior Devan Martinez of Chestnut Hill College extends his leadership mentality into every facet of campus. From Senior Class President to Campus Ministry, Freshmen Orientation and the local hospital, there are few places where Martinez’s presence is lacking. Though his involvement outside of lacrosse is extensive, that is only supplemental to leading his teammates. Martinez embodies the pay-it-forward leadership philosophy, as he tirelessly dedicates his time and effort to mentoring the underclassmen. When not on the field or campus, he logs hours in the local hospital, extending his team-mentality work ethic into the healthcare field. A native of Vestal, NY, Martinez plans to continue to work in local hospitals as he hopes to pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant.
Senior Katherine Lambert of the University of Mary Washington was elected captain by her teammates for her “can do” / “will do” attitude and truly exemplifies what it means to lead by example. With sporadic playing time throughout her career, she has proven that leadership extends past goals and groundballs. While keeping up demanding athletic and academic schedule, she remained active in the local community initiatives such as Lloyd Moss Free Clinic which provides free dental care to community members. Lambert will continue to pursue her passion of Dentistry as she is set to start Dental School in fall.
Senior John Hunger of Hope College went from walk-on to senior captain during his time as a student-athlete. His “team-before-self” mentality and belief that leadership extends past playing time has earned him the utmost respect from his peers and coaching staff. These attributes have spread into other aspects of his life as he is involved in several community service initiatives such as ITS ON US. A native of Cleveland, OH, he plans to continue to pursue a career as a CPA.
Below is the full list of 2018 finalists:
Men Division I: Jake Pulver, Cornell University ‘18 Patrick Dallon, St. Joseph’s University ‘18 Matthew Behrens, Georgetown University ‘18
Men’s Division II: Devan Martinez, Chestnut Hill College ‘18
Men’s Division III: Stephen Ruppel, Lynchburg College ‘18, Chris Albright – Christopher Newport University ‘18 John Hunger – Hope College ‘18
Women Division I: Emma Lemay, Marist ‘20 Alex Gambacorta, Marquette University ‘18 Erika Mazer, Lafayette College ‘18 Emma Dunne, Yale University ‘18 Ellen Newtown, Canisius College ‘19
Women Division II: Shannon Mazza, Florida Southern College ‘18 Samantha Yurechek, Limestone College ‘18 Sarah Reilly, Assumption College ‘19
Women Division III: Lindsay Bateman, Averett University ‘21 Kellen Cannon, Marymount University ‘18 Erin Redmond, Rowan University ‘19 Megan Cannon, St. Mary’s College ‘18 Katherine Lambert, University of Mary Washington ‘18