Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/21/15
From Press Release
The nationally-ranked Conestoga girls’ lacrosse team recently celebrated a hard-fought victory on the field against a perennial local rival, but a greater and more lasting victory took place off the field and involved young girls from what some might regard as the new frontier.
It was on the Lady Pioneer sidelines that lacrosse players from the Thurgood Marshall Middle School shared the excitement of ‘Stoga’s come-from-behind win over a strong and spirited team from Radnor. Conestoga, now 9-1, is No. 10 in the current STEPS Lacrosse North America Girls’ Rankings.
There the Pioneers shared the passion and the drama with the Thurgood Marshall team and its coach, Janice Henderson, who had accepted Conestoga’s invitation to attend the game and foster a friendship with the high-profile program that had “adopted” her squad in the fall to support diversity and inclusion in the game. Thurgood Marshall Middle School is located in the City of Philadelphia.
The Thurgood Marshall girls received VIP treatment at the Conestoga-Radnor game and were the beneficiaries of a stick donation drive the Pioneers organized to help Coach Henderson recruit and equip new players. Coach Henderson enjoyed exposing her team to what turned out to be a pitched high school girls’ lacrosse battle from start to finish.
“Thanks for this experience and the continued generosity,” said Henderson. “We will share the sticks with other interested girls. Wow, what a game, what a lasting impression! One of my girls already named her new maroon and white stick ‘Stoga’!”
The programs first forged a relationship in the fall, when Coach Henderson’s team participated in the inaugural ‘Stoga 5v5 Fall Lax Fest, a short-sided youth tournament that raised money for the Conestoga’s successful Florida trip over spring break, which featured a win over nationally ranked Vero Beach.
Conestoga, with the help of the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association (PLA), arranged for all the Thurgood Marshall players to become members of US Lacrosse to participate in the tournament. During the event, the ‘Stoga girls coached and shared their love of the game, as well as donated equipment, with their “little sisters.” The two programs have stayed in touch ever since.
“Our girls also really enjoyed the 5v5 Lax Fest,” said Henderson. “We will definitely be back in the fall and we’ll be bringing more teams from the city!”
One driving force behind Conestoga’s outreach is its three-year commitment with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and the team’s emphasis on sportsmanship, service to others, giving back and honoring the game, something the Conestoga Lady Pioneer Booster Club and Conestoga Coach Amy Orcutt orchestrated.
“We signed up for the PCA and also registered to help with the PLA’s HEADstring Project, an initiative of the local US Lacrosse chapter to support the game in Philadelphia,” said Orcutt. “My players are delighted to serve as role models and mentors for the Thurgood Marshall girls. It is refreshing to see our programs interact in such a productive and promising way.”
“All of us hope to continue doing our part to help grow the game in non-traditional places and share our enthusiasm for the sport. We hope other teams will do the same!”
Conestoga may be the home of a talented group of Pioneers on a mission, both on and off the field. But, as they know, Coach Henderson and the team’s “little sisters” at Thurgood Marshall Middle School are the true pioneers on new frontiers and in the process of bringing diversity and inclusion to the great game of lacrosse.