Lane Errington | @lane_errington
Giving Tuesday is just one week away! Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the holiday shopping season, Giving Tuesday kicks off the end-of-year giving season. With your help, the US Lacrosse Foundation is helping to put sticks in new players’ hands, with the goal of raising $20,600 to underwrite the cost of one boys and one girls First Stick Program grant. Your gift on December 3 will go directly toward giving kids their first lacrosse stick and planting seeds of growth in new lacrosse communities this holiday season.
Here are the stories—straight from the source—of two recently awarded First Stick programs that are using lacrosse as a vehicle for affecting change in players’ lives.
West Ashley High School, Charleston, S.C.
Awarded First Stick Program grant in summer 2012
Submitted by Ridge Britton, Head Coach:
West Ashley High School is the second largest school in the tri-county area of Charleston, so the sheer size of the school can diminish the individual at times. The school is 63 percent minority (54 percent black), graduates only 60 percent of students on time, and 60-70 percent of students live below the poverty line.
In our second season, a junior girl came out to see what lacrosse was all about. She appeared shy and stayed in the background. I sensed someone lacking confidence and looking for a safe group.
Fast forward to one month in. Our team rule is that players must have a C or better in every class in order to play. She confided that she was not meeting the C requirement and tears welled in her eyes as she told me she would have to drop out. Of course, I said let’s work on it together. We agreed that she would devote the necessary time for studying and come to practice with any time left over. Although she played very little, she was allowed to dress for all games and cheered heartily.
Academic were a challenge in her senior year, but she started giving direction to girls on the sideline as almost a player-coach. By the end of the season, our program graduated a girl on time that was confident enough to be a leader and wore a nearly permanent smile. I am sure her lacrosse family gets an A in this course.
New Horizons Lacrosse, Austin, Texas
Awarded First Stick Program grant in fall 2013
Submitted by David Hamill, Head Coach
Founded in 2009, our program’s mission is "to provide personal growth, positive life experiences, and enrichment through the participation in team sports by supporting the development of lacrosse programs in underserved communities."
In 2011, New Horizons was part of the Get Ready for College pilot project at the Afterschool Centers for Education program in Austin. We were the physical enrichment component alongside science, theater arts and college awareness. We played soft lacrosse in a coed setting with sixth graders and saw this as an opportunity to organize a field trip to Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
The adventure started with our students sitting in big leather conference room chairs as the admissions officer broke down the admissions process in an understandable way. She discussed the extracurricular activities element of college acceptance, reinforcing that playing lacrosse was a great way to boost your college application. We took a full tour of campus, and kids were reminded throughout the day to “picture themselves in college.” Our day ended with both men’s and women’s lacrosse team members playing catch with our kids on big, green, well-tended athletic fields. The men even dressed in their game uniforms!
It was a long day, and for most of the kids, the hour-long ride home in our open-air school bus was a chance to nap or have quiet time. However, one boy, Eduardo, was jazzed. He talked to anyone that would listen about his plans to get his friend to play lacrosse and how he was going to attend college at Southwestern and play lacrosse! That may or may not actually happen, but for one moment, college was a real possibility for Eduardo and he had heard what it would take to get there. This is the essence of affecting change in the lives of young people. The opportunity to see yourself as you might be is the first step to becoming that person.
For more on New Horizons Lacrosse, visit NewHorizonsLacrosse.org.
Want to read more First Stick success stories? Check out last week’s Giving Tuesday countdown post.