The goal for any football game is simply to win, and while Marist achieved that against Presbyterian, they were also a part of a much bigger objective that transcends the sport. The team, alongside the Center for Student-Athlete Enhancement, hosted its fourth annual Set the Expectation game on Saturday.
Set the Expectation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end sexual and domestic violence and work with local agencies that serve assault survivors and victims. The organization’s founder, Brenda Tracy, was in attendance and joined the players as an honorary captain for the game.
“It makes me feel good that what happened to me, and what happened to other people isn’t all negative and we’re having the important conversations,” she said. Tracy, who was raped by multiple football players in 1998 with no legal consequence, discussed the importance of raising awareness and creating allies with men like the Marist football players because of their potential influence over a campus. “When you think about the ripple effect that can come from reaching the team and players, the outcome can be really profound.”
Tracy spoke to Marist student-athletes in 2017 but plans to speak to the football team specifically about her story and to reemphasize how important it is to not only set but maintain the expectation against sexual and domestic violence.
Back in March 2021 a Marist football player was accused of assault and immediately removed from the team/college. While the team was commended for how swiftly they handled the accusation, the goal is still to prevent such actions from occurring going forward.
“Just like in any society you’re going to have some bad apples, but also many more good apples,” said Marist Director of Student-Athlete Engagement, Alyssa Gates. “Given the hypermasculinity that is football, it’s always been important to me to start with that group.”
Gates, who has a strong relationship with many of the players, spoke on behalf of the team’s overall excitement to speak with Tracy after they learned about her story earlier this week. She said she anticipates many players wanting to speak one-on-one to share their personal experiences and connection with the issue.
The players’ commitment to improvement is one that is echoed by Marist head coach Jim Parady who coached the entire game in a “Set the Expectation” t-shirt and was adamant about raising awareness after the game.
“It’s very important to us as a program and the way that we carry ourselves and the message that we’re sending out there,” he said. His expression of just how crucial it is to have these conversations and work towards preventing these kinds of issues was powerful and clearly an example for the players to follow.
In addition, to support the team, the game was sponsored by several Marist clubs including the Purple Thread and It’s on Us, both of which work to empower students and focus on ending sexual assault. All proceeds from the game are going to the Grace Smith House which is a private non-profit right in Poughkeepsie that provides shelter and services to victims of domestic violence.
With such a worthy cause and immense positivity surrounding the day, it’s hard to call the Set the Expectation game anything other than a massive success.
“The idea that we’re having a football game celebrating survivors and raising awareness, it’s exciting,” said Tracy.
The excitement was certainly on display, but as Tracy continues to reiterate, the advocacy and action has to continue.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane