West Side Lacrosse and Leadership (WSLL) is a recreational youth lacrosse organization that focuses on academics while striving to also help young athletes to love the game. Based in Charleston, the organization is working to spread the game in West Virginia’s capital city.

“We are here to share life lessons and the fun of lacrosse with players of all ages,” said Jimmy Hill, the WSLL’s founder and president. Hill launched the organization in 2016 after being lured into the sport by his two oldest sons, Tremain and Jamon.

In addition to serving as the program leader and a coach, Hill actively engages community partnerships to help provide life skills to his players.

“There just wasn’t that much outreach being done to minorities in this area,” he said. “It’s about thinking in a different way.”

Three years ago, a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant helped to support the initial launch of WSLL. Additional support arrived this year via the national governing body’s Urban Lacrosse Alliance, which provides programming assistance and resources for urban based organizations.

As a new ULA member, Hill attended last weekend’s Urban Lacrosse Alliance conference, a US Lacrosse sponsored gathering of program leaders and coaches from coast-to-coast who are passionate about urban lacrosse. 

The annual event is designed to serve as a forum to support these leaders in creating new urban programming or enhancing current existing programs through shared best practices.

“Attending the conference was a real eye-opener for me in regard to the different techniques that other folks use to gets kids involved,” Hill said. ‘At the same time, there is a lot of common ground on similar problems, like funding, volunteers, participation, and getting field time.”

Sharing ideas about how to address some of these issues left Hill excited for the future.

“So many of the ideas are things that have never been discussed locally,” he said, “but I think we can make them work in our area.”

This year’s presentation topics included community partnerships, staff recruiting strategies, coaching techniques, leveraging social media, and unconventional strength and conditioning ideas. 

“The conference was a big success, with attendees and speakers who represented all areas of the country,” said Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager of diversity & inclusion at US Lacrosse. “The true impact of this event is the opportunity for our attendees and participants to share ideas and network with one another, learning from each other in addition to the formal presentations from our excellent speakers.”

Initiated in 2015, the Urban Lacrosse Alliance is comprised of over 70 member programs, including 17 new members this year.

“We celebrate that anyone from anywhere should be able to play and compete, and our mission is to showcase our sport’s diversity to encourage ideas and promote acceptance. It’s about our collective efforts in spreading the love of the game,” Preston-Laurent said.

The full list of programs to join the ULA in 2019 were:

Cass City Boys Lacrosse -- Detroit, Mich.
City of Passaic -- Passaic, N.J.
Cusabo Nation -- Charleston, S.C.
East Side High School -- Newark, N.J.
Lawrence Township School Foundation -- Indianapolis, Ind.
Manatee Lacrosse Club -- Bradenton, Fla.
Maryland Youth and Adult Leadership and Learning -- Baltimore, Md.
Mira Mesa High School Lacrosse -- San Diego, Calif.
Nations Athletics -- Ohsweken, Ontario
Near West Recreation -- Cleveland, Ohio
Pompano Beach High School -- Pompano, Fla.
Rangeview Youth Lacrosse -- Aurora, Colo.
Rise Lacrosse -- Jamestown, N.C.
Tsunami Lacrosse -- Los Angeles, Calif.
Volusia County Lacrosse -- Daytona Beach, Fla.
Verve Lacrosse -- Los Gatos, Calif.
West Side Lacrosse and Leadership -- Charleston, W.V.

Urban Lacrosse Alliance

The ULA was formed to help qualified affiliates address needs unique to their lacrosse programming through education and resources.

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