Saratoga County student-athletes dedicated to raising awareness of relationship violence

March 25, 2019 07:19 PM

CLIFTON PARK - What a visitor to Shenendehowa High's spring track workouts won't see are the regularly scheduled life lessons that Head Coach Jason Burlingame teaches.

Through a national curriculum called "Coaching Boys Into Men," Burlingame talks to his athletes each week about respecting girls and women.

"It frames a lot of it around just healthy relationships. It talks about respectful language. It talks about how to navigate social media," the coach said.

Burlingame says when news broke last fall of the murder of University of Utah track standout Lauren McCluskey at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, his athletes wanted to do more.

They came up with #Meters4McCluskey, logging all of their steps as a way of raising awareness for what happened to her and hoping to prevent other relationship-based tragedies.

Senior runner Gregory Langone remembers what he thought when he first heard the idea, "Wow, that's someone that's part of our track family that's affected by this and then Coach Burlingame put two and two together."

Kyle Gregor, who finished 5th in New York in the shot put, says the connecting their efforts to the tragedy in Utah came naturally. "Once we saw someone impacted by that had been like us in track and field, it made us want to act upon it."

They posted their progress on social media, communicated with McCluskey's coach and even her family.

"They (Lauren McCluskey's family) thought it was a really nice way to remember her life and raise awareness for an important issue," Burlingame said.

They logged 30.7 million meters.

Their story even caught the attention of Runner's World magazine -- a bonus for a program already focused on reducing relationship violence.

"I'm really, really proud of them and really humbled by their work," said Burlingame.

Burlingame and team captains Gregory Langone, Kyle Gregor, Alex Hislop, Jaron Meyer and Colin Tower will all be recognized as "gamechangers" at a banquet Thursday night put on by Wellspring, the Saratoga Springs-based organization dedicated to ending relationship violence and sexual abuse.

Retiring Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch will also be honored.


Mark Mulholland

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