BYU athletes wear red in honor of University of Utah student

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Athletes on the BYU campus donned the color of the University of Utah on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The campaign is in honor of Lauren McCluskey, a track and field athlete who was shot and killed on the University of Utah campus Oct. 22.

The campus-wide event is the first of its kind to take place at BYU. Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representatives informed student-athletes of the initiative on the evening of Oct. 23.

“Last night we had a SAAC committee meeting where we came together as leaders of each sport,” said Shalae Salmon, a member of the women’s basketball team and SAAC representative. “Liz Darger gave us the word to wear (red) but it was our idea.”

Ari Davis
Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake and Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham come together following a game played in Salt Lake City in 2017. (Ari Davis)

Wearing red on campus specifically for the University of Utah is something that has never been done before, but it was an easy choice for Salmon to make.

“It was definitely an easy decision. That’s our rival school, but we have to push that aside and be there for her family and for her,” Salmon said. “We just want to honor her and her memory. We think the rivalry has nothing to do with this. We put that aside and just do this for her.”

The campaign aims to show love and support for the University of Utah, Lauren and the entire McCluskey family during this time.

“It’s bigger than anything. It’s such a huge tragedy for her and her family, and we feel that family is the most important thing to everyone,” Salmon said. “We just want to make sure that’s emphasized before the rivalry and before the sport.”

Members of BYU athletics have taken to social media in response to the incident that occurred in Salt Lake City.

Ty Mullen
BYU student athletes wear red in memory of Lauren McCluskey. (Ty Mullen)

BYU student-athletes who wore red in support of McCluskey commented on how their mindsets have changed since the incident occurred. Paisley Johnson, a sophomore on the BYU women’s basketball team, said the situation not only affected her life on the court but now off the court as well.

I think relating to the side of her being a female, her being an athlete and her being a student-athlete in college trying to just go on with her life, it definitely hits home,” Johnson said. “It’s frightening. It’s scary.”

In addition to life off the court, circumstances like this have brought the team closer together.

“(Lauren) did everything right in this situation, reporting harassment and calling University of Utah police. Having the extra support system of teammates, I think this whole thing did bring the team closer together,” Johnson said. “This whole situation gave a big emphasis on safety with us.”

Athletic directors from both BYU and the University of Utah came together during the campaign to show sympathy and support on behalf of both institutions.

Jill McCluskey, Lauren McCluskey’s mother, tweeted the morning of Oct. 24 that the McCluskey family is grieving and not doing interviews. Jill McCluskey also posted a highlight video of her daughter made in 2013.

“When I found out about (what had happened) it was something that I felt for the parents. The parents are affected by it,” Johnson said. “I feel very deeply for the whole situation.”  

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