FROM THE moment Jeff Geffert strapped on his first set of shoulder pads as an eight year old, he has been taught to hit. And hit hard. But now the senior cornerback at Division III Wooster ( Ohio) spreads a different message: Stop the hitting.
He and seven present or former Fighting Scots players spend at least eight hours each month working in conjunction with Every Woman's House, a shelter for abused women and their children in Wayne County. The players have raised awareness about domestic violence by hosting a radio show and speaking to high schoolers. Geffert, who saw two senior teammates disciplined for domestic violence during his freshman season, has led the group's efforts over the last two years. "A big thing is breaking the stereotype that male athletes can't be advocates for this cause," says Geffert. "We've learned how to positively affect other guys' behavior."
Geoffrey Martin, the community education coordinator at Every Woman's House, says men are reluctant to volunteer for fear of being seen as abusers who are performing court-ordered community service. "[The players] have no reservations about how people are going to perceive them," Martin says of (from left) Trey Simmerman, Jake Sankal, Ben Schrock, Geffert, Keith Adams, Jeff Dauer, Dan Sommers and Ricky Giavonette. "Some guys aren't man enough to volunteer at a place like this."