North Salem HS varsity lacrosse teams raising awareness for One Love Foundation


Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

North Salem High School’s boys and girls varsity lacrosse teams are hosting dedication games and a youth lacrosse clinic as part of an awareness raising effort for One Love Foundation, a national nonprofit that seeks to educate young people about healthy relationships and empower them to identify and avoid abuse.

The One Love Foundation was created in honor of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia lacrosse player who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, a fellow UVA lacrosse player, in 2010. Lili Valletta, a junior captain of North Salem’s varsity girls lacrosse team, learned of the foundation through her work with the school’s SADD Club (Students Against Destructive Decisions), a student-run organization that promotes healthy decision-making. She presented the idea for dedication games and a youth clinic to North Salem athletic director Denise Kiernan and the girls and boys varsity lacrosse coaches.

Dr. Don Merriman, head coach of the varsity girls lacrosse team, said, “we all agreed it was an amazing idea. The current varsity girls lacrosse team is composed of exceptional young people who not only strive to compete at a high level on the field, but also understand and are passionate about many issues and challenges facing young people.”

At the Friday, April 21 girls varsity game and the Monday, April 24 boys varsity game, team members will dedicate their games to victims and families who have been impacted by relationship abuse. Players will also host a fundraising bake sale and sell One Love x North Salem lacrosse shirts at the games. On Saturday, April 22, the varsity teams will lead a youth lacrosse clinic on the turf field at North Salem High School from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Valletta has set up a fundraising page through One Love with the goal of raising $1,000 toward the cause.

Stephen Palencsar, head coach of the varsity boys lacrosse team, said that he has explained to his players how the One Love foundation came to be. “I felt that our boys took it very seriously,” Palencsar said. “I have shared the One Love website with our players and in the coming days will be having a discussion with them about some of the content on the website.”

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Palencsar added that as a coach and an educator, he has seen teens brush aside unhealthy relationship behaviors. "I think social media has changed the relationship landscape. Parents, teachers, and coaches need to stay current with these trends in order to educate kids about what is and isn't healthy. The One Love organization provides great examples and resources for kids to look at that will help them recognize unhealthy behaviors or patterns in their personal relationships."

“Empowering young people to see the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships is crucial,” Merriman said. “The social/emotional programs and resources that the district has put in place, fostered, and maintained have the shared goal of creating an environment within the schools where students are not only knowledgeable/aware, but also comfortable talking with each other and trusted adults at school.”

The varsity lacrosse teams invite all community members to learn more and support the cause at their dedication games and youth clinic, and to consider making a donation to the foundation via their fundraising page.

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