The softball team will host its third annual Sexual Assault Awareness event alongside a conference doubleheader against the United States Coast Guard Academy at Rotch Field this Saturday.
Former softball player and alumna Jill Gearin wanted to promote awareness for sexual assault when she started the event in 2017. The games help fundraise for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN—the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
The softball team tries to fundraise between $1,000 and $2,000 for RAINN each year and accepts donations through their Instagram and Facebook pages. Last year, the team raised $2,430. At the time of publication, event donations totaled $1,305 for this year.
“I realized that, even though we’re a Division III school, we still have a platform that we can use,” Gearin said in a phone interview. “I am a victim of sexual assault, so I really wanted to use that platform especially because it’s such an issue on college campuses right now. I talked to my coaches, talked with my captain my junior year, and they got the ball rolling from there.”
Softball captain and senior shortstop Alena Jones said it is imperative for people to know and understand the problem of sexual assault today.
“It’s important to bring overall awareness [to sexual assault] because we feel that, as a team—and hopefully other people as well—it’s a very important issue,” Jones said. “Especially in today’s day and age, you keep hearing more and more stories about it. In college it’s such a big issue, so we really just wanted to spread the word about it and bring as much awareness as possible to this cause.”
Among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of women and 5.4 percent of men experience rape or sexual assault through physical force or violence, according to RAINN.
Jones said the team customized teal-colored shirts for both teams to wear prior to the start of the doubleheader.
“We wear them before the games, and we’re playing Coast Guard, so we also made shirts for them and they’re going to wear them before the game as well,” Jones said. “We usually take a big group photo with the shirts, so it’s a nice event that brings everyone together for the important cause.”
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center spends the month educating people about the problem and how to prevent it.
The Lions will compete in the doubleheader on Saturday, April 6 at Rotch Field. The first game will start at 12 p.m. and the second game will begin at 2 p.m.
Domenic Conte contributed reporting to this article.