Growing up in Rochester, London Booker tried almost all of the same sports that other inner city kids played. Football, basketball, track; he gave them all a shot. But candidly, Booker says, “I didn’t really like sports.”

Then, in the summer of 2006, 12-year-old London met lacrosse. He spent four weeks playing the game at the first Roc E6 lacrosse summer camp, designed to introduce inner city youth to sports which they had not been exposed to previously. All of a sudden, the quiet and reserved London found his athletic calling.

“Everything else, I had tossed aside, but this sport was different,” he said. “It was something that I liked for once.”

For Booker, the bug carried over for three more years as he returned to camp each summer and further developed his game. When the time for high school arrived, his family moved to the suburbs, in part to allow him the opportunity to continue playing the game he loved at Gates-Chili High School.  Continued mentoring by Roc E6 founder Art Alvut further fueled Booker’s development.

During his high school summers, Booker joined an FCA summer travel team, which provided enough exposure to eventually lead him to the newly-created varsity program at local Roberts Wesleyan University. Throughout his college days, Booker continued to coach youth teams with the Roc E6 program. 

“I never really left Roc E6,” he said. “I was there because I love lacrosse.”

Fast forward to 2018, and Booker’s commitment to the advancement of inner city youth and lacrosse has led him to the position of vice president at Roc E6. The organization continues to build on its original mission, using the passion of lacrosse to provide opportunities to inner city youth. The organization's name represents that mission: empowerment, education, exposure, ethics, equality and exercise.

From a small team of 22 in 2006, Roc E6 has grown to five teams with over 120 players and has helped advance lacrosse in the Rochester City School District.

As VP, Booker still coaches teams while also spending his time pursuing scholarships and additional resources to help his players participate in summer camps and tournaments. It’s almost a second full-time job for Booker, who is also a middle school math teacher in the city.

“It’s all about trying to make a difference,” Booker said. “And I think there is some value to kids in seeing a coach who looks like them and has come from similar surroundings.”

One of Booker’s recent projects, in April, was to coordinate a one-day Roc E6 Lacrosse Festival, featuring a line-up of games, clinics and instruction. The schedule included eight games, from the youngest 3rd-4th grade up through a high school game. Booker also arranged for a US Lacrosse Sankofa Clinic that day to help provide instruction to all the boys and girls players. 

Additionally, the US Lacrosse Greater Rochester Chapter sponsored a Level 1 Coaches Development Clinic as part of the festival, offering free registration to participating coaches. The chapter also coordinated volunteer game officials and provided prizes and giveaways for the fundraising raffle.

Jen Allen, a member of the chapter’s leadership board, was impressed by the collaborative efforts that made the event a big success.

“It was an honor for our chapter to work alongside some of the most passionate, dedicated youth coaches and coordinators in the area. The day was a result of great team effort and was a lot of fun,” she said. 

In recent years, the chapter has also supported Roc E6 with equipment drives, diversity grants, and the sponsorship of teams for events like Shootout for Soldiers.

“The idea is to have an on-going and evolving relationship between the chapter and Roc E6,” Allen said. “They have a dynamic group of people leading that organization. The kids of Rochester are very fortunate.”

One of the by-products of the festival was the chance to bring together many diverse lacrosse participants, fostering connections between boys and girls players, coaches, families and volunteers from the city and surrounding towns.

As a product of the city, Booker was excited to help showcase all the lacrosse talent that the city has to offer.

“People needed to see the fruits of our labor,” he said. “All the kids who play lacrosse were there. It was amazing to see so many smiling faces.”
 

Categories