Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/16
From Press Release
The One Love Foundation is pleased to announce that Kara Stroup (Garnet Valley) of Temple University and Elijah Conte of the University of Delaware are the winners of the 2016 YRL Unsung Hero Award. The award is given annually to one male and one female Division I lacrosse player who demonstrate dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship – all qualities Yeardley Love exemplified throughout her life.
Stroup and Conte represent the best of college athletics, and were chosen from a pool of outstanding nominees. As winners of the award, they will receive a special bowl and the One Love Foundation will donate $250 to a charity of their choice.
Graduating from Temple earlier this month, Stroup is coming off a four-year career as a starting defender for the Owls, and she served as a team captain for the past two seasons. In addition to being a motivated and determined student-athlete, she is also a courageous advocate for mental health awareness. Stroup struggled with depression and an eating disorder for many years in high school. With counseling and medical treatment, she has recovered, and has bravely shared her story with others in the hopes of breaking down the stigma around mental disorders. In doing so, she has been an inspiration to her team and the whole Temple community.
“Winning this award means that I am once again granted the opportunity to further the exposure regarding a very important and relevant topic,” said Stroup. “What prompted me to first become open about my experience was not the fact that I had gotten through the struggle, but that I had family members who had not survived their own struggle. The goal of increasing awareness is to increase prevention because such loss is devastating.
“Being able to serve as an example for struggling individuals as well as their support systems by encouraging understanding, continuing the conversation, and education while breaking down the stigma of what our society believes mental illness looks like, will hopefully give someone the spark of courage they need to speak up and ask for help.”
Temple head coach Bonnie Rosen nominated Stroup for the Unsung Hero award, and could not be prouder of everything Stroup has given to the program and to all those around her.
“Winning the YRL Unsung Hero Award is such a wonderful and deserving honor for Kara,” said Rosen. “Kara has been an outstanding leader on the field for us for four years, but the leadership she has shown off the field is what makes her truly exceptional. From the first day that Kara arrived at Temple, it has been one of her goals to share her story in order to help others. The One Love Foundation is dedicated to doing much the same. This award both acknowledges all the impact that Kara has made on others and at the same time it provides her with an even greater platform to continue to share her story.”
Stroup acknowledges that fighting a battle against mental illness is an ongoing process, but wants others to know that fight will be rewarded.
“My hope is that someone else is reminded that at the end of each day, their life matters and that things can get truly get better,” she said. “It takes work to get to a healthy place, and the work to remain in that healthy place is never over. For those who are struggling, I hope you choose to fight another day because you are worth it.”
The award money Stroup is receiving from the One Love Foundation will go to The Bo Tkach Foundation in honor of her cousin, and will help assist individuals in obtaining the medical treatment that they need.
A survivor of childhood cancer, Elijah Conte is a 2016 graduate of the University of Delaware, and a tri-captain and defenseman on the men’s lacrosse team. A lifelong athlete, Conte has become an amazing role model for young people, and has used his platform as a student-athlete to help others. Conte has forged special friendships with young cancer patients fighting a similar battle to his earlier experience, and has led his team’s efforts in raising money for the Headstrong Foundation. He also volunteers with McVey Mentoring and the B+ Foundation.
One Love profiled each of the ten YRL Unsung Hero Finalists this month. Each one has an amazing story and significant contributions to their teams and communities. The other finalists were Conor McKemey of High Point University, James Chakey of Penn State, Joseph Radin of Marist, Bridget Vilbig of Ohio State, Mary-Sean Wilcox of University of Florida, Meg Gulmi of Cincinnati, and Brennan Donville and Maddie Kiep of Cornell.