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As a senior, Love was recruited by UVA. Asked recently by a team publication to recall her recruitment, she said, "When I got off the phone with Coach Myers and she had offered me a spot on the team, that definitely topped the happiest and proudest moment that I will probably ever experience."
A regular in the Cavaliers— rotation, Love was a fast defender but most distinguished herself as a good teammate, volunteering for extra drills in practice and even for the thankless task of playing one-on-one defense against an attacker. She was also one of the best students on the squad, a government major who spent last summer interning at a New York City public relations and marketing firm and had a job lined up after graduation—no small feat in the current economy. She was uncommonly social, except when the Baltimore Ravens, her favorite team, played; then no one was allowed near her. Friends say that she was "deceptively intense," warm and even submissive but "quietly knowing what she wanted and going for it."
Later this month, when the fourth years attend graduation ceremonies—Final Exercises, they're called at UVA—Love will receive her degree posthumously, fulfilling the promise she made to her dad. "She's the epitome of what we want our students to be," says Meg Heubeck, of UVA's Center for Politics. "That's the best way I can sum her up." Adds Appelt, "You hear that God has a plan for everyone, but maybe he messed up this one time."
Love was buried last Saturday, after a funeral at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore that drew more than 2,000 mourners, many from the lacrosse community. Her teammates, most of them wearing black dresses, walked with her family. The UVA men's team was well represented too. "This week a young woman died a violent and senseless death," said priest Joseph Breighner, "and her name was Love."
By that time the Facebook group In Memory of Yeardley Love had more than 50,000 members. In the wake of Love's death, the Virginia Lacrosse Alumni Network (VLAN), composed of more than 300 former men's players, invited UVA lacrosse alumnae to join their group. Then they raised $500,000 to fund the Yeardley Reynolds Love Endowed Scholarship, to be given annually to a member of the women's team. "Some good has to come of this," says Drew Fox, a player on the 1994 men's team and the VLAN leader. "It just has to."
The day after the funeral the Virginia lacrosse teams received their pairings for the NCAA tournament. Both the men, who will host Mount St. Mary's on Saturday, and the women, who host Towson on Sunday, have said they'll compete in honor of Love's memory. And who knows how this suddenly wrenching season will end?
The relationship between athletes and tragedy is seldom predictable. Some teams, even the best ones, can have a hard time recovering. Others are galvanized. As one rival coach says, "Don't forget, you're still talking about two of the best teams in the country. They've been through a lot these past days, but their ranking hasn't changed."
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