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Sexual assault survivor Brenda Tracy makes lasting impact on UW-La Crosse football program

La Crosse, Wisc. (WXOW)-  On Saturday, the UW-La Crosse football team dedicated their game against UW-Platteville to the “Set the Expectation” campaign.  A movement started by sexual assault survivor and activist Brenda Tracy.

It has been 20 years since Tracy was sexually assaulted by four football players in Oregon in 1998. Two of those players were on the Oregon State football team. Due to ample physical evidence, Tracy was forced to drop the charges. In addition, the Oregon State football players were suspended just one game.

In 2014, Tracy decided to come forward with her story. In 2016, she began travelling the country sharing her story and working with college football programs across the nation. Recently, she visited with UW-La Crosse.

In order to get her point across, Tracy doesn’t shy away from the details of what happened.

“First time I came to some consciousness, I was aware that I was laying on my back on the floor,” Tracy said. “I was naked, and I couldn’t move my arms or my legs. I remember in that moment feeling like I was trying to yell ‘Stop, what are you doing’?”

“I can’t imagine ever feeling like that again.”

Although this tragic experience will never leave Tracy, she would not erase what happened to her.

“I wouldn’t,” Tracy said. “If I could go back and stop my gang rape, I would not do it. Because, if I did then I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.”

Tracy runs the “Set the Expectation” campaign which is focused on engaging and educating men.

“I’m a rape survivor,” Tracy said. “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I am not ashamed.”

“I think we just have to engage men,” Tracy continued. “I think we do too much of wagging our finger at men and telling them they’re the problem, and we are not inviting them to the table as part of the solution.”

In order to be a part of the solution, the Eagles signed the pledge to the set the expectation at practice the following day: CollegePledge

One of the most important parts of the pledge states that if a player commits or participates in an act of sexual assault, he will be dismissed from the team.

“I think this is the opening foot in the door step for our team to bring this even more so into the light and to make it even more of a priority to talk about,” Quarterback Ben Schramski said.

“We are going to keep putting people like Brenda Tracy in front of our players to make sure that UW-L and UW-L football and UW-L athletics are always going to be the ones that are setting the expectations and setting the standards,” Head Coach Mike Schmidt said. 

“I might not change the world, but someone in this audience tonight might.”

Many of those in the audience already have as the team took to social media supporting Tracy’s campaign.

Karley Marotta

Weekend Sports Anchor

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