The One Love Foundation announced Thursday that North Carolina's Zoe Skinner (Towson High) and Loyola's Jason Crane (Chesapeake-Anne Arundel) have been selected as the 2013 Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award winners. Now in its third year, the award celebrates selfless acts of initiative and commitment performed by Division I lacrosse players; it is named after the former Notre Dame Prep and Virginia player. Skinner and Crane are being rewarded based on their exceptional dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship, traits Yeardley exemplified on and off the field.
The YRL Unsung Hero Award winners are chosen from a pool of applicants nominated by either a coach or person associated with Division I lacrosse programs throughout the United States. The award's selection committee highlights their 10 finalists (five women, five men), who were announced on May 1, then choose the winners to announce leading up to the culmination of the NCAA lacrosse season. Each winner will receive a silver bowl recognizing their accomplishment, a $250 donation in their name to a charity of their choice, acknowledgment on both the One Love Foundation website (http://www.JoinOneLove.org) and InsideLacrosse.com (http://www.InsideLacrosse.com), the award's media partner.
Sharon Robinson, Yeardley's cousin and a member of the award's selection committee, said: "We are so impressed with both Zoe and Jason and are proud to celebrate the positive influences that each of them have had on their teams, and on the community at large. Like Yeardley, they both epitomize the goodness in collegiate athletics that is sometimes overlooked in our society. They are amazing student-athletes, and we salute them for their humble leadership."
A Baltimore native and junior on North Carolina, Skinner leads many community service projects and pushes her teammates behind the scenes. Last summer, she spent time in Vietnam with the Atlantic Coast Conference Student-Athletes Coach for College Teacher program, teaching English and coaching volleyball to 5th grade children in Southern Vietnam. Also serving as the women's lacrosse liaison with Carolina Athletics Outreach, Zoe coordinates the team's volunteer efforts with UNC Hospitals, Murdoch Development Center, New Hope Elementary School, Share Your Christmas Foundation and UNCLaxForKellie. She does the same on the field, tirelessly working behind the scenes to improve her teammates in practice.
"I'm thrilled to have Zoe earn this recognition. We do a lot of outreach at Carolina, and more times than not, Zoe is part of the efforts in some way," said Cricket Lane, UNC assistant director for student-athlete development. "She's been involved in so many projects, yet she puts her heart into every single one. And in addition to reaching out herself, she's great at getting her teammates and other student-athletes involved and invested, making her impact that much greater. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her positive attitude affects everyone around her. She's a great role model and is very deserving of this honor."
In his first year at Loyola, Crane missed much of fall practice with a hand injury, but he quickly became close with his teammates and coaches, and showed leadership qualities early on. Displaying initiative, courage and leadership in December 2012, he reached out to the director of youth lacrosse in Newtown, Conn., to ask how the Loyola lacrosse team could assist in the wake of the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Crane then organized a clinic, gathering 13 of his teammates during their winter break to travel to Newtown and put on a free clinic for the youth in town. On the field, Crane stepped into a role on the Greyhounds' rope unit as a long-stick midfielder in his first collegiate season.
"Jason's compassion and enthusiasm to help those around him truly embodies the shared memories of Yeardley and how she gave herself to others without asking for anything in return," said Jeff Tousignant, president of Newtown Youth Lacrosse. "His offer to help our community and rally the support of his fellow teammates to visit our children in their darkest moment brought smiles to their faces and those of their families; it helped put laughter back in their voices. It is something our children and parents will never forget. I could think of no finer person to receive this wonderful award."