UVA Lacrosse Teams to Honor Yeardley Love at NCAA Tournament

UVA lacrosse coaches speak out about how their teams will play through pain.

May 11, 2010 — -- For the first time, lacrosse coaches at the University of Virginia are speaking out about the murder of player Yeardley Love and the fellow lacrosse player, George Huguely, accused in her killing. Both the men's and the women's teams will play in the NCAA tournament this weekend, less than two weeks after Love's death.

The men's coach, Dom Starsia, says his team is dealing with grief both on and off the field.

"Well, it's been such extraordinary circumstances, you know, just so tragic on so many different levels," Starsia said in a telephone interview with ESPN. "There are so many things that need to happen here on a personal level, that the lacrosse piece of this has been a little secondary until closer to today."

Therapist Phil McGraw, the host of "The Dr. Phil Show" said he thinks it's a positive step for the teams to return to competition.

"I do think it's a good thing," McGraw said on "Good Morning America." "If you can return to normalcy, then that can help the healing process."

"If they can do this and memorialize her loss and acknowledge it in some way, apparently she was a tremendous competitor, a tremendous team player… she certainly would have wanted them to play," he said.

In a conference call with reporters, the women's lacrosse coach, Julie Myers, described the moment both teams found out about the murder.

"We saw Dom right off the bat and he was shaking and just like we were," she said. "I mean, everyone had this tremendous sense of loss and, how does this happen?"

Love, 22, was laid to rest near her family's home in Baltimore last weekend. At her funeral, six of the men's lacrosse players carried her casket, a detail that did not go unnoticed.

"By carrying her casket those players also said that George Huguely is gone," USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan said. "That he is no longer one of them."

CLICK HERE for a list of resources for stopping domestic and dating violence.

UVA Lacrosse Teams to Play in Yeardley Love's Honor

The Cavaliers men's team is the top seed in the NCAA tournament and will host Mount St. Mary's on Saturday night. The women's team is seeded number 6 and will host Towson on Sunday afternoon. Both teams have vowed to play in the championships in Love's honor, but the coaches are worried about what comes next, when teammates and friends go their separate ways.

"They've been given the latitude to cry when they want to and to laugh when they feel ready for it," Myers said. "So, I give a lot of credit to the way that Yeardley was, but also to the Love family and the atmosphere and environment they've created over the past week for all of us."

For Love's family, her mother Sharon and older sister Lexie, the last week has likely been nothing short of a nightmare, beginning with the gruesome discovery of Love's body by her roommate, face-down and bloodied in her bed on May 3.

Police first were called to Love's off-campus apartment at 2:15 a.m. by her roommate, who suspected that she may have just had too much to drink. But when authorities were unsuccessful in reviving Love, evidence of trauma became clear and they arrested Huguely at his own apartment just a few blocks away.

Waiving his Miranda rights, Huguely told Charlottesville police that he had kicked through the door to Love's bedroom. Police reported that it looked like the door to her room had been punched through, with hairs still visible near the hole. Huguely had cuts on his leg, according to the court documents.

Police documents said Huguely told investigators that he shook Love and her head banged into the wall several times.

He also told police he and Love had broken up and that he had communicated with her through e-mails. Before leaving her room, according to the documents, he took her communications and "disposed of it." The police document says Huguely told investigators where to find Love's computer.

Police later reportedly seized a red-stained lacrosse T-shirt from Huguely's apartment, along with a shower curtain and a letter addressed to Love.

Huguely was charged with first-degree murder and held without bond. His lawyer said during a bond hearing that Love's death was an "accident."

Scheduled to graduate on May 23 with the rest of her class, Love now will receive her degree posthumously.

Dr. Phil: Yeardley Love's Murder Highlights Issue of Domestic Violence

While university officials have said that they were not aware of any past issues Huguely had with the law, the 22-year-old had been picked up on several charges before last week.

In December 2008, his father, George Huguely IV, called Florida police to the family's yacht with a domestic abuse complaint after George Huguely V jumped into the Atlantic Ocean and began swimming to shore, according to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.

No arrests were made, and Huguely was picked up by a passing boater without injury.

Also in 2008, Lexington, Va., Police Officer Rebecca Moss wound up on the ground, wrestling with Huguely during an arrest in 2008 that ended with the officer hitting Huguely with a Taser, and a conviction for public intoxication and resisting arrest.

Huguely had two other run-ins with the law. In September 2007 he was booked for reckless driving after speeding at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. In November 2007, he was arrested for possession of alcohol as a minor when he was 19.

Huguely's history of violence "should not have gone unnoticed," McGraw said, but he also said it's very difficult for school officials or coaches to prevent something like this from happening.

"Oftentimes this violence is so situation specific," McGraw said. "Three women die every day from this kind of… domestic violence. Girls that are by 20-24 are in the highest risk group. This is a serious problem. …These intimate relationships…are fueled so much by jealousy."

McGraw said that this case spotlights the issue of domestic violence towards young women.

"It gets a lot of attention when it's a star athlete, but this is something that permeates every area of our society," he said.

McGraw hopes that schools will start teaching girls to spot the risks and warning signs of an abusive relationship. Many women "don't know that this type of violence is preceded by emotional control, threats," he said. "If you're in a relationship like this, the last thing you want to do is confront your abuser…talk to somebody that you trust. Somebody responsible that can help you find an exit strategy."

CLICK HERE for a list of resources for stopping domestic and dating violence.

ABC News' Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

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