Vigil held for former lacrosse player

Attendees of the vigil sang along to R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest" in support of Rachel Hall and her family. Hall's lacrosse team played the song before games this spring.| Aaron Windhorst TTN
Attendees of the vigil sang along to R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest" in support of Rachel Hall and her family. Hall's lacrosse team played the song before games this spring.| Aaron Windhorst TTN

Before every game this spring, the Temple women’s lacrosse team would sing R. Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest.”

On Monday night, the team sang it again – but this time, it was during a candlelight vigil in honor of their teammate Rachel Hall, who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident on April 29.

Hall remains in the hospital recovering from the injuries she sustained when Rashan Roberts hit her while she was riding her bike. Roberts, 18, has since turned himself in to police.

According to Facebook posts published recently by Rachel’s mother, Kathy Hall, Rachel has been able to open her eyes slightly and is making small improvements.

About 80 family members, friends, teammates and students gathered by the Bell Tower in support of the Mullica Hill, New Jersey native.

Several of Hall’s friends and lacrosse teammates spoke as the crowd clutched their candles.

Teammate Kara Stroup said that relief swept over her when she was told at the hospital that Hall would be wake up eventually.

“We’re going to help her through this,” Stroup said. “It’s going to be a long road when she wakes up.”

Hall, who majored in criminal justice and minored in sociology, graduated this semester. She hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement. Kathy Hall accepted the diploma in her daughter’s absence at the College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on Friday.

The vigil was organized by the Sociology Undergraduate Majors and Minors Association. Hall was a member of SUMMA, and the organization’s incoming president, Robyn Moore, led the vigil.

Moore said Hall’s friends and acquaintances were “looking for an outlet to show their support,” and added that this why she took the lead in organizing the vigil.

Many of those who attended the vigil were female athletes who wanted to show solidarity with Hall and the lacrosse team.

“She’s a part of the athletic community,” Kaylee Harner, a senior on the women’s soccer team, said.

Brendi Ernst, also a member of the women’s soccer team, sat next to Hall in a class and became friendly with her last semester.

“It doesn’t just hurt the lacrosse team,” Ernst, a junior studying kinesiology, said. “It could have happened to anybody or to any team.”

Those who know Hall personally described her glowingly.

“She’s very intelligent, with a great sense of humor, very driven, and not afraid to go her own way,” Stroup said.

Gabby Szczepanek, a junior on the lacrosse team, also commented on Hall’s personality.

“She’s the most energetic, brightest person,” Szczepanek, a media studies and production major, said.

Moore said that Hall is a motivated individual, and has big plans for the future.

“She’s very smart, vibrant—a young girl with lots of aspirations,” Moore said. “She has ambitions to go into the D.C. police force.”

Others who do not know Hall well said they came just to show their support for Rachel and her family.

Kate Stroup, Kara’s sister, is a student at Delaware County Community College, but she came to the vigil at the Bell Tower anyway.

“I came to show support for my sister and Rachel,” she said.

Kara Stroup’s friend Megan Beirne, a student at Millersville University, has met the lacrosse team before and has observed their cohesiveness.

“They seem like a family – no cliques and judgement-free,” Beirne said.

All of the women’s athletic teams united as a family on Monday night, as they showed support for the 22-year-old as she continues to recover in the hospital from the injuries she sustained nearly two weeks ago.

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jack.tomczuk@temple.edu or on Twitter @JackTomczuk.

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