Women’s Lacrosse Leads Successful One Love Workshop


Photo courtesy of Maggie Balderstone

Women’s Lacrosse members prepared for the One Love Workshop last month.

This past March, a group of Oberlin student-athletes organized and held two One Love workshops to raise awareness about the warning signs of abuse. Using the training and facilitation available on the One Love websites, they organize the workshops to help inform students about what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like. The men’s workshop was held March 5, while the women had their workshop March 12. Three third-year lacrosse players and Student Athletic Advisory Committee members Abbie Patchen, Audrey Koren, and Caroline Lee played a key role in the organization and success of the workshops and have brought recognition to the cause.

The One Love Foundation was founded in 2010 after Yeardley Love, a fourth-year student and lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, was brutally beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend weeks before she was supposed to graduate. In her honor, Love’s mom and sister began the foundation to help increase awareness of abusive relationships while simultaneously educating students and athletes on the signs of a healthy relationship.

In April 2016, lacrosse player Alex Wagman OC ’16 began Oberlin’s One Love foundation chapter and led the first workshop. In a 2016 Review article (“Athletes Explore Relationship Violence,” The Oberlin Review, April 22, 2016), Wagman explained the difference between One Love and workshops held by Title IX.

“As an athlete, we have Title IX workshops that are somewhat similar, but they really don’t get you involved or motivate students to participate willingly,” Wagman said in the article. “The main difference for me is that One Love addresses the stuff that happens before the actual issue in an engaging and relatable way.”

Lee acknowledged the importance of One Love’s intersection with lacrosse.

“Having One Love be a lacrosse-based foundation makes it more accessible to the athletic community,” Lee said. “Student athletes are more willing to learn about what healthy and unhealthy relationships are through One Love.”

The workshops that occurred last year were called the Escalation Workshops, which Koren explained in further detail.

“This was the basic understanding and a longer workshop that covered the path of a direct abusive relationship where the woman was ultimately killed by her boyfriend, which is why One Love was created,” Koren said.

Unlike last year, these workshops were mandatory for all athletes. They consisted of a series that depicted the dynamic and dialogue among three friends when one of them was experiencing an unhealthy and abusive relationship. This year, the committee chose to focus the One Love workshops on the topic of “Door 3.”

“Door 3 was specifically about how you as a friend support your friend that is in an abusive relationship, what are the warning signs you’re seeing, how can you help, and what resources and tools you can use,” Patchen said.

Overall, this set of workshops was a success. They were facilitated by Patchen, Koren, and Lee, as well as by other members of Oberlin’s women’s lacrosse, field hockey, and track teams. Oberlin’s own sexual harm prevention education program, Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct, also helped facilitate. The staff helped students identify the unhealthy signs shown in the video and discussed how everyone can support their peers when they begin to notice these signs in real life.

“We had really positive feedback for both workshops,” Lee said. “One of our goals was to start conversations and to have all student athletes be aware of what is happening, because we hear a lot about abusive, toxic, and manipulative relationships going on with our teammates and on the campus.”

By holding these workshops, students and student-athletes were educated on tell-tale signs of abusive relationships and were given a list of resources to help when these signs become present.

“Our goal is to provide a base for people to start having these hard conversations,” Patchen said. Because Koren and Lee were abroad during the fall, they were not able to organize a fall workshop to provide first-years the basis of the One Love Foundation. Next year the group hopes to hold more workshops earlier on. “Our plan for next year in the fall is to have a mandatory [first-year] athletes workshop so everybody has the same basic knowledge going into the spring workshops,” Koren said. “For the spring, we will pick another discussion topic and do another all athlete workshop.”

Overall, the 2023 “Door 3” workshops had a great turnout, with a majority of student athletes attending.

“For the three of us, this cause means a lot, and we want to give back to the athletic community,” Patchen said. “We are hoping that this is our legacy and it will continue on when we graduate.”