Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/18/16
From Press Release
One Love has announced the finalists for the prestigious Yeardley Reynolds Love (YRL) Unsung Hero Award, and Temple’s own Kara Stroup (Garnet Valley) is one of those 10 finalists.
“Kara epitomizes the qualities of the Unsung Hero award,” said Chris Solomon of the YRL Regional Leadership Council, also Yeardley’s cousin. “She puts her teammates ahead of herself, is extremely active in her community, and in bravely talking about her personal struggles, she illustrates courage, perseverance and character. We are privileged to introduce Kara as a YRL Unsung Hero Finalist as she exemplifies what is best about college athletics.”
The award recognizes the accomplishments of two Division I lacrosse players (one male, one female) who demonstrate dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship – all qualities that Yeardley Love exemplified throughout her life. These student-athletes make a significant contribution to the team in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls.
Ten finalists were chosen from a large applicant pool with numerous schools submitting nominations. The finalists will be announced throughout the week, and the two award winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 25.
Temple head coach Bonnie Rosen nominated Stroup for the award, doing so “with a tremendous amount of heart.” Explained Rosen, “Kara’s story is one of challenges, courage, strength, kindness, compassion, dedication, resilience, leadership, passion, humbleness, servitude, integrity, and love.”
In August of 2011, as a senior in high school, Stroup admitted to her mother that she had been battling an eating disorder on and off for seven years. While in treatment, she also opened up about having had suicidal impulses and some incidents of self-harm. She later spent seven days in an inpatient psych unit. When her final high school lacrosse season began in the spring and she was on new medication, she began experiencing depression. As the situation got worse, her family became aware and Stroup went back to the ER.
Between two trips to the ER and time in the psych unit as a senior in high school, Stroup didn’t know what the future would hold for her. She had committed to playing lacrosse at Temple, but had to overcome her eating disorder, self-harming incidents and depression in order to come to college and be successful. After keeping her feelings inside for so many years, she displayed a tremendous amount of courage in asking for help and finally getting the help she so desperately needed.
Stroup emerged from her battles stronger than ever. From the time she came in as a freshman, she was committed to sharing her story and being open with her teammates. She served as a team captain her junior year in 2015, and was a team captain yet again in 2016. As a defender for the Owls, Stroup started in every single game of her collegiate career. She is known for her ability to stop opponents’ attackers with her relentless and physical play on defense, and she is a vocal leader for the team while also leading by example.
“Kara has knocked down the mental health stigma door for our program,” said Rosen. “She has made it okay to talk about personal struggles and she has served as example to all who have battled mental health illness that being a happy and successful student-athlete is a very realistic goal.”
In the fall of 2015, Stroup wrote a personal essay that was posted to OwlSports.com. The story received close to 20,000 views after being shared hundreds of times on various social media outlets. She received an outpouring of support and messages, many of them thanking her for sharing her story and letting her know it helped them or someone they love. In the Spring of 2016, Stroup’s story was featured in the NCAA’s Champion Magazine. She is dedicated to Lax-4-Life, playing for suicide awareness prevention in young adults. She gave two talks at Haddon Township High School to classrooms full of high school students, telling her story and helping to erase the stigma of mental illness.
“She truly connected with the students at Haddon Township,” said Rosen. “They were engaged and curious and really seemed to be surprised that someone who looked like her and sounded like her could ever have been so sad. I have no doubt that Kara not only helped to put a personal face to what mental health illness can do but that she also inspired some young person to realize that they too could get through whatever darkness they were experiencing.”
Finalists and announcement dates:
Kara Stroup ’16, Temple
James Chakey ’16, Penn State
Bridget Vilbig ’16, OSU
Joseph Radin ’16, Marist
Maddie Kiep ’16, Cornell
Brennan Donville ’16, Cornell
Mary Sean Wilcox ’16, Florida
Connor McKemey ’17, High Point
Megan Gulmi, ‘16 Cincinnati
Elijah Conte ’16, Delaware