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Stevenson Football Leads Support in Sexual Assault Awareness

September 9, 2019
GBMC's Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event raises funds to benefit the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) programs – which provide services at no cost to the victim and rely entirely on grants and donations. It also starts conversations about these important topics.

Stevenson University took this learning opportunity outside the walls of their Owings Mills campus to engage one of the largest, most influential groups on campus: the football team.

Thanks to an introduction by GBMC Board of Directors member, Jim Stradtner, more than 80 players came out the morning of April 6 to show their support for a cause that has received an increasing amount of attention on college campuses, most especially in college athletics.

"In college, in general, it’s a big situation to let the public know about because something like that can be so devastating," said co-captain and senior, Zach May. "I felt being out there, backing the organization shows there are people that really care about sexual assault and are thinking about it."

Walk a Mile
Head coach Ed Hottle was approached by Stevenson University's Dean of Students, Jeff Kelly, to participate, and felt the event aligned with opportunities his players were already involved in. Six players recently went through One Love Foundation's facilitator training, to train teammates on de-escalation and intervention strategies. Participating in Walk a Mile in Their Shoes was one more way for the men to see first-hand how to tackle this issue effectively.

"It gives them a tool," Coach Hottle said. "Hopefully they never have to use the tool, but if they find themselves in a position that doesn’t require intervention, but maybe requires action, they at least know 'I was at GBMC and I did this, so this may be somewhere where I can take somebody or direct someone to go.'"

Aside from concrete tools to use in real-life situations, players felt the impact of the issue on a deeper level – sometimes personally.

"One of the key facts that stuck out to me was 1 in 3 women gets assaulted," said senior co-captain Emmanuel Essien. "I have a mom and two sisters, and to think it could be one of them to go through that is terrible."

It's important for all students, as well as other community members, to be aware and engaged with this issue because, as SAFE and DV program leaders at GBMC have seen, this issue does not discriminate. But, there is a special power sports have in uniting people. And, as one of the biggest factions on Stevenson's campus, the football team can be leaders to other students.

"The power of influence is something that sports – whether it be football, women's lacrosse, field hockey, it doesn't matter," Coach Hottle said. "You have an opportunity as an athlete to influence others by who you are as a person, and I think that's an important piece."
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