US Lacrosse recently published its 2015 Annual Report (PDF), which included stories of members putting the organization’s resources to work to grow the game locally. In a reprint from the report, staff writer Paul Ohanian took a look at a unique lacrosse enthusiast utilizing a US Lacrosse Soft-Stick Grant.

 

Olivia Koch of Montgomery, N.J., has a passion for lacrosse.

Her zeal is so strong that she applied for a US Lacrosse Soft-Stick Grant in order to help introduce the sport to students at a school she had never seen. Each grant provides 30 gender-neutral plastic lacrosse sticks and soft balls, along with a curriculum guide to help teach the sport.

Olivia reached out to the administration at Christina Seix Academy (N.J.), an independent school for underserved kids in Trenton, to ask if she could begin teaching lacrosse to the students. Rob Connor, head of the school, welcomed her.

Now, thanks to Olivia’s efforts, first-, second- and third-grade students receive lacrosse instruction twice a week for an hour each. Ninety-eight percent of the students at CSA are African-American or Latino.

By the way, Olivia is just 14 years old and in eighth grade.

“You’d expect to see someone that young for a couple of weeks and then figured that they would disappear,” Connor said. “But she is as consistent as you can be. She has become part of our school community, and the kids love her to death.”

In addition to great energy, Olivia has good timing. At the time she reached out to Connor, he was already considering the addition of lacrosse to the curriculum. He just wasn’t sure about the next step.

“We didn’t have the expertise in-house, so Olivia’s timing was great,” Connor said. “She impressed us right away.”

Olivia worked with her parents, Michael and Michele, to complete the US Lacrosse grant application in 2015. After receiving the equipment, she set up drills for the students and faculty at CSA to provide an initial introduction to lacrosse. She has also recruited her two younger sisters, Bella and Lexie, to help with the tutorials.

“The structure that she created was really developmentally appropriate for our kids,” Connor said. “It’s been an easy thing.”

Having played the game since age 8, Olivia said that her motivation was simply to give back and find a way to expose others to the game she loves. She was inspired to action after reading Condoleezza Rice’s book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family.

”We weren’t a lacrosse family until Olivia got involved with the game,” Michael Koch said. “Now we are.”

“The kids bring so much energy, it’s really fun to teach them,” said Olivia, who plays on her middle school team and a club team. “This has been a life-changing experience for me.”

Growth Resource

Whether you're new to lacrosse or familiar with "the fastest game on two feet," soft lacrosse represents a great way to introduce the sport to students and to your community.

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