By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/13/10
For a year, L.E.A.P.S. has helped plant the seeds of lacrosse in the city of Philadelphia for many youths who had never even seen the sport before.
Now the grassroots program is being recognized for its service to the city. The award-winning non-profit directed by Philly professional players John Christmas and Eric Gregg is being featured all month by Comcast SportsNet in a special ‘Net Impact Philly report.
The segment, found here at YouTube or at leapslax.org, provides an in-depth and personal look at the birth of L.E.A.P.S. (Leadership, Education, Attitude, Perseverance & Success) and shows highlights of Christmas and Gregg teaching lacrosse to city youths.
The report, which features 6 minutes of video, was produced by emmy-award winning Brad Nau, Executive Producer of Special Projects at Comcast. Gregg said the report has received tremendously positive reviews.
“People are e-mailing us and signing on to website; it’s just been phenomenal,” said Gregg, a former member of the Philadelphia Barrage of Major League Lacrosse and the head coach at Philly power St. Joseph’s Prep. “It’s been great for us, and we can use it as a marketing tool.
“It’s supposed to be run regularly all month on Comcast. Folks can also see it on our website.”
Gregg noted that he and Christmas received an e-mail recently that Comcast was interested in doing the story, hosted by Gregg Murphy. Nau spent several hours shadowing Christmas and Gregg – even interviewing Christmas while driving in his car – and went through their reasons for creating L.E.A.P.S. and how it has impacted them and the city.
The report begins with unique shots of the city and explains why Christmas took off a year from playing in the National Lacrosse League with the home-town Philadelphia Wings to get things started with Gregg. Christmas was a scholastic legend at Lower Merion who also became a standout at Virginia and also plays professionally for the MLL’s Boston Cannons.
The show also talks about the goals of Gregg, the son of the late Eric Gregg, a popular sports figure in the city who was a Major League umpire. In the report, viewers get an up-close perspective on the clinics being run at city fields.
L.E.A.P.S. has grown much in the past year and involves many volunteers as well as efforts by Philadelphia lacrosse leaders. For instance, on Monday, Penn coach Mike Murphy took his team to five sites – Boys’ Latin Charter School, Delaware Valley Charter School, Audenried High, Lighthouse and Martin Luther King Recreation Center – with Christmas and Gregg to help teach Philly youths the basics of lacrosse.
“Lacrosse is a small world,” said Gregg. “The brand new president of Comcast, Jon Litner, has a son who is a lacrosse player that goes to Shipley School and trains with John.
“The next thing you know, we get an e-mail from the higher-ups at Comcast saying they want to do a piece. Brad Nau called us up spelled it out for us. He’s an award-winning producer, but we didn’t think it was going to be that good.
“He came out and followed us for three or four (training) sessions with kids and took a lot of footage.”