The One Love Foundation has announced that recent Rhodes College graduate, Katie Clark '16, is the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse recipient of the organization's Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award.
The award recognizes the accomplishments of men's and women's collegiate lacrosse players from Divisions I, II and III who demonstrate dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship — all qualities Yeardley Love exemplified throughout her life.
"Playing lacrosse at Rhodes and Peddie, I encountered many fantastic inspiring young women, so I was overwhelmed to be singled out for this award," said Clark.
The Unsung Hero Award was created by the One Love Foundation in 2011 in honor of Yeardley Reynolds Love, a Division I lacrosse player at the University of Virginia who was tragically killed by her ex-boyfriend just three weeks shy of her graduation in 2010. The Foundation’s mission is to educate young people on the importance of healthy relationships.
"Being designated a YRL Unsung Hero Finalist actually made me very introspective, and as I learned more about Yeardley Love and the mission of the One Love Foundation, I looked forward to meeting her family members and the other organizational leaders in my interview," said Clark. "I am very moved by their commitment to education about healthy relationships and grateful that they would consider me to serve as an ambassador for the cause.
"I would definitely characterize this honor as an “Ala Viva moment." Peddie supported, encouraged and inspired me to reach beyond the reasonable and instilled in me the work ethic — begin anew — which I describe as consistently giving it my all."
Clark was nominated by Rhodes Head Coach Megan Keelan, who called her the "team mom," citing her leadership role and unique, compassionate ability to understand "the exact moment you truly need someone to ask how you're doing and honestly care about your response."
The 2016 Coach's Award winner for girls' lacrosse at Peddie, Clark landed in Memphis and walked onto the women's lacrosse program, earning a spot on the team with the help of her relentless work ethic and positive energy. By her senior season, Clark, who had been voted team captain and praised as the "ultimate team player" and a "friend to all," had worked her way into a starting position as a defender. When the NCAA season was canceled amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Clark was devastated, but decided to turn her sadness into action. As a Senior Fellow in the Office of Admissions, she started to video chat with prospective student-athletes, shedding light on her love for all things Rhodes College.
"I count my blessings every day that I have a loving family, had the opportunity to get a great education in a caring community like Rhodes in Memphis and continue to spread my Falcon wings in numerous ways," said Clark.
Along with a silver bowl to commemorate this award, each winner selects a charity to receive a donation in their name. Clark chose the Foundation for Women's Cancer.
"My sophomore year at Rhodes one of my best friends died of cancer suddenly just two days before her 21st birthday. More recently my aunt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of uterine and ovarian cancer. She is a proud Peddie aunt and has been to all my brothers' and my Blair days, games and Vespers (Katie’s three brothers attended Peddie: Joe '05, Will '08 and Mike '10). I knew I wanted to do something for cancer research."
Clark graduated with a degree in Art History and minor in Religious Studies with a 3.91 cumulative GPA. During her time at Rhodes she was in multiple honor societies and was a three-time Southern Athletic Association regular season and tournament champion, making three NCAA appearances. Clark was one of seven seniors from the Class of 2020 chosen by her peers to be inducted into the Rhodes College Hall of Fame based on individual merit, leadership in student activities, service to others and overall contributions to the campus community.