May 1, 2013
GENEVA, N.Y. - Loyola University Maryland freshman long-stick midfielder Jason Crane, who in January organized a trip to Newtown, Conn., with teammates to put on a lacrosse clinic for youth players in the town affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has been named one of five men's finalists for the 2013 Yeardley Reynolds Love (YRL) Unsung Hero Award.
Established in 2011, the award that is given by the One Love Foundation celebrates the selfless acts of initiative and commitment performed by Division I lacrosse players. These outstanding student-athletes are recognized based on the following criteria: dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship. The award winners - one female, one male - will be announced in late-May, leading up to the culmination of the NCAA lacrosse season.
On January 3, Crane gathered many of his teammates, and they departed Maryland, or their homes as it was during Christmas break. A total of 14 Greyhounds gathered in Newtown to lead a clinic in the town where 26 adults and children were killed just weeks before.
Crane reached out to Jim Wallace, the Coach Training Coordinator for the Newtown Lacrosse Association, and Wallace invited the Greyhounds to lead the clinic.
"Obviously, we knew the town was hurting, and I found Jim's e-mail address, and I asked if there was anything we could do," Crane said. "He said it would be great if we could do the clinic and talk to the kids.
"When we got here today, Jim talked to us for a while, and he told us how many of (the clinic's) kids were in the school at the time of the shooting. He said the town has been very quiet, and there is a lot of sadness. The kids are dealing with things that no elementary or middle school kid should have to deal with. He talked about how our presence helps the kids out in ways that we can't even imagine."
The clinic drew more than 100 Newtown youth players, ranging from third through eighth grades, despite the fact that Crane and the Greyhounds put their plans together in less than a week prior to coming.
At the clinic, the Greyhounds taught lacrosse skills and team play, as well as interacted with the kids on the field.
Since then, Crane and many of the players have kept in regular correspondence with the Newtown youth, and more than 100 residents of the town attended Loyola's April 13 game against the University of Denver at Ridley Athletic Complex where they took in a tour of the facility, watched the game and then played on the field with the team after the game.
As a freshman this season, Crane has played in 12 games as a long-stick midfielder, picking up five ground balls and causing a turnover.
Crane is joined by four other male finalists: Frankie Kelly (North Carolina), Jason Noble (Cornell), Shane Warner (Binghamton) and Trey Wilkes (Ohio State).
Formerly given to lacrosse players in the ACC Conference, the award became open to all Division I programs this year. The award recognizes accomplishments of student-athletes who help their team achieve success in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls. The honor is meaningful because it places value on characteristics that are often undervalued in the competitively charged environment of college athletics.
Crane and the Greyhounds open play in the ECAC Championships on Wednesday at 8 p.m. They will take on The Ohio State University in the second semifinal from Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Networks, Fox College Sports and FUEL TV.