Over 200 kids in New York City came together to learn new skills last week as the US Lacrosse Sankofa Clinic made a stop at Columbia University’s Baker Field in Manhattan. 

Participants included youth players from the Inwood Lacrosse Club as well as those who have recently been introduced to the game through the NYPD’s Housing Bureau Community Affairs (HBCA) Unit. 

US Lacrosse and the Sankofa Lacrosse Foundation are partners in offering free youth clinics for boys and girls from underrepresented lacrosse communities. Local organizations that offer lacrosse participation opportunities in which a majority of the participants are minorities are eligible for the clinics.

All participants receive a new lacrosse stick and T-shirt along with a one year membership to US lacrosse. 

“It was an unbelievable day,” said Tavius Cheatham, director of Inwood Lacrosse and one of the organizers of the clinic. “What I loved the most was seeing the kids in the park later that day playing lacrosse.”

Cheatham launched Inwood Lacrosse, a US Lacrosse First Stick grant recipient, in 2018. Most of his participants have no prior connection to the game.

“Most of them had never even heard of lacrosse,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch their development.”

Lt. Mike Gunther, who heads the HBCA unit, is excited that lacrosse is becoming an effective platform in helping to keep city kids out of trouble. The HBCA helps to bridge the gap between the New York Police Department and community members. HBCA initiatives range from dances for senior citizens to sports for youth. The unit began introducing lacrosse to middle school kids last year and has developed programs in three locations throughout the city.

“Lacrosse is really taking off,” said Gunther, who also serves as a coach and program leader with North Rockland Youth Lacrosse. “They want it.”

Receiving free lacrosse instruction and equipment was a big hit.

“The dedication of the coaches and instructors was very impressive,” Gunther said. “They were well organized and very energetic. And the kids were overwhelmed with the equipment. They couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Cheatham noted that the Inwood neighborhood that he serves, located at the northern tip of Manhattan, is sometimes overlooked. Having a new activity in the community is appreciated by local families.

“The kids were having fun right off the bat,” he said. “The coaches were fantastic and even stayed after the clinic ended to talk more with the kids. I’m still getting emails from parents telling me about the fabulous time their kids had at the clinic. It was a perfect day.”

Created in 2013, the Sankofa Lacrosse Foundation is focused on supporting efforts to expand the reach of the game, particularly in economically challenged communities. 

“After each clinic, every participant should walk away feeling that they learned something, and more importantly, that they felt they were coached by somebody that cared about their well-being and their success," said Chazz Woodson, co-founder of Sankofa Lacrosse and a Major League Lacrosse and Team USA veteran.
 

Sankofa Clinic Series

Sankofa Clinics seek to expand the reach of the game, particularly in economically challenged communities.

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