Kelly Layton, a recent graduate of Glenelg Country School (Md.) who will be attending Millersville University in the fall to play lacrosse, recently completed an internship with US Lacrosse. Kelly spent two weeks with the Diversity & Inclusion Department and visited with several local urban lacrosse programs. As part of her internship, she wrote about her experience, which changed her perspective on the sport.

After spending the day at Commodore Rogers School in Baltimore City, I saw the sport of lacrosse in a new light.

I arrived just as recess time was beginning for the 8th grade, which includes six of the girls on the lacrosse team. Jenny Michael, the athletics director and girls’ lacrosse coach, showed me to their equipment room. It was full of new sticks, new cleats, new bags, new balls and new clothes; probably enough to satisfy 50 kids. I was surprised when one of the girls walked in and said that she finally saved up 500 points to buy a new stick. I learned later that in order for one of the girls to get better equipment, she must get a good grade on a test, have good attendance for a month and have a positive attitude.

When we went outside to pass the lacrosse ball around the only thing that the girls were talking about was how they could not wait to go to lacrosse practice later. One girl that I spent most of the day with repeatedly told me that on the days she has lacrosse practice she does really well in school because if she doesn’t, she is not allowed to attend. She also told me that her teammates have improved socially and academically because they all want new equipment.

I was shocked, mainly because at my school, if you received a bad grade, you were still allowed to go to practice or to your game. If you did not attend school for a day, you were still allowed to play in the next game.

I reflected on the fact that for me, lacrosse equipment was always a given. If I needed something, it was almost a guarantee that I would have it within a few days. With these girls, they have to wait until they have enough points to buy what they need from the equipment room.

I was able to go to one of their practices, which featured players from the four different schools that Commodore plays. This all-star team was created with the best 4 or 5 girls from each school in order to play together in a tournament in a couple weekends.

At practice, every girl was in the same situation with equipment and clothes, but there was no evidence during practice that the girls might not have the best sticks or new cleats. Each girl was simply happy that they had the chance to play for a few more days.

After being with the girls, I have a better understanding of what the Commodore athletic program does and how it works. The main goal is to reward each student for doing well socially or academically by getting to learn a sport and getting involved in a new program. I think that having these programs in schools allows for the game to grow and shows students important life skills that are taught from being a team player.