Athletes take a stand

Written by The SAFE Alliance

“We’re going to use our sport to completely change the way we look at being a man,” said Reagan High School head football coach Keith Carey.

Carey is not alone. Travis High School head football coach Joe Frank Martinez and others throughout Central Texas are using their influence to build men of character and non-violence.

The Purple Ribbon campaign began six years ago and currently reaches over 4,000 Central Texas athletes each year. With its message, “Football is a Contact Sport, Love Shouldn’t Be,” the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, SAFE, and other partners rally local teams to stand up and speak out against sexual and domestic violence.

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, teams from Central Texas schools will convene at 10 a.m. at House Park Stadium. Upon arrival, student athletes will meet in small groups on the field with Travis County detectives and other male advocates to discuss how they can become leaders and Upstanders on their campus. Lake Travis High School head football coach, Hank Carter, will provide a call-to-action and coaches will receive purple ribbon helmet decals, game announcements, and prevention curricula among other resources.

Campaigns raise awareness, but some athletes need more to address personal histories of abuse. That’s why SAFE counselor and former athlete, Kareem Muhammed, works with coach Martinez at Travis High School. When introduced as the “team ally,” Kareem realized this was a great way to support students who may not otherwise seek him out on campus. Kareem, who provides Expect Respect groups in six schools, will be spending time at football practice, offering one-on-one counseling, as well as prevention education for the entire team.

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