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John Christmas takes off year from pros to build inner-city lax program

Saturday, 6th December 2008

Categories Boy's/Men's, Girl's/Women's, Posted 12/6/08

Philadelphia Wings transition player John Christmas announced Friday that he is taking off the 2009 season to focus on establishing a non-profit, grassroots program to educate kids in Philadelphia about the game of lacrosse while promoting positive attitude.

Christmas, a Lower Merion graduate who starred at Virginia has been working on this project – called Lacrosse, Education, Attitude, Perseverance, Success (LEAPS) – for a half-year. He will serve as co-director of the program along with new St. Joseph’s Prep coach Eric Gregg, a graduate of Episcopal Academy.

“First and foremost I want everyone to know that I do have plans to come back and play indoor lacrosse and I hope that it is once again with the Wings,” said Christmas, who has played three seasons with the team.

“In the past six months I have put a lot of work into getting the LEAPS program off the ground and it is something that I want to be able to give my full attention so we can reach as many kids as possible in Philadelphia and really make a difference.”

Christmas was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the fifth round (49 overall) of the 2006 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft. In his first three seasons with the Wings he played in 29 games, recorded 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists), and picked up 115 loose balls.

Christmas, a two-time college All-American, led Virginia to the 2003 national championship. He also has played three seasons for the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, scoring 50 goals while amassing 38 assists.

At Lower Merion, Christmas led the Aces to the Avery F. Blake (state) championship in 1999, and earned All-American honors three years. Christmas also was named to Team USA in the 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.

“Although we are disappointed we understand and support John’s decision,” said Wings coach Dave Huntley. “We wish him the very best and look forward to supporting his community initiatives with the LEAPS program.”


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