Mourners gather for Yeardley Love

More than 2,000 attend service in North Baltimore

May 08, 2010|By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun

It is a scene that plays out in Maryland families every year: children learning lacrosse at the hand of a guiding parent. At the age of 5, Yeardley Love picked up her first lacrosse stick and began playing with her father.

At 6, she joined a team through Cockeysville Rec. At 9 years old, she knew she wanted to go to the University of Virginia and play lacrosse there.

Years later, her dream would come true. But last week, Love's other childhood dreams were cut short.

At the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore, more than 2,000 people gathered Saturday to mourn Love, a 22-year-old senior and Cockeysville native who was slain in her off-campus apartment on Monday in Charlottesville, Va.

An ex-boyfriend and Virginia men's lacrosse player, George Huguely, 22, of Chevy Chase, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her slaying.

The killing shook the campus and members of the nationally respected men's and women's lacrosse teams, many of whom were close with Love. Julie Myers, the head coach of the women's lacrosse team, stood up before tearful mourners to deliver a eulogy that was filled with gratitude for having known and coached Love.

"Yeardley was the player who made everyone feel better," Myers said. "As genuine, kind and gentle as she was, she was also tough as nails on the lacrosse field."

"She played with the heart of a lion," Myers said.

Scores of somber friends from the university, who arrived on two buses, and many more relatives and acquaintances filled the cathedral on North Charles Street to pay tribute to Love.

Members of her varsity lacrosse team led a procession of close family and friends into the church at the start of the funeral Mass.

Also in attendance were students from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, where Love graduated.

The service was filled with songs and tributes from relatives and friends. The funeral program featured a picture of young Yeardley in a white angel's costume, with white wings on her back.

To many, she was simply known as "Yeards" — a bright-eyed, fun-loving and generous woman off the lacrosse field, but a fierce competitor on it.

Myers described Love as a versatile, easygoing player who did whatever was asked of her for the team. This past season, for instance, Love was trained to play as a defender, after filling more offense-related roles in the past.

"What I'll always remember is her smile and readiness to play anything we asked of her," Myers said.

The funeral program that was passed out to mourners featured a reprinted essay that Love wrote during her freshman year at Notre Dame Preparatory School.

She was born in 1987 at Mercy Hospital to Sharon and John T. Love III. Love's father died from cancer in 2003, when she was in high school.

"My parents taught me many values in life, and they always made me feel like the luckiest little girl in the world," Love wrote.

She wrote how she enjoyed hanging out with her older sister, Lexie, and her friends, and how she developed a passion for lacrosse at an early age. She described how her family was very close and attended church every Sunday.

Even as a high school freshman, Love had a detailed vision of a future she wanted to have for herself. She wrote about wanting to attend the University of Virginia and to play lacrosse for the school. After college, she hoped to attend the university's law school.

"If I had to wish for three things in my life, they would be to go to the University of Virginia for college, have a happy and healthy family when I grow up, and to always keep in touch and stay close with my family," Love wrote. "So far my life has been filled with joy and happiness, and I hope to keep living my life that way."

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/gussent

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