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First-year @HarlemLacrosse-Philly girls’ program at Anderson Middle School enjoys training with Interboro MS

Wednesday, 25th April 2018

Categories Girl's/Women's, Youth  
 

By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/25/18

Middle School girls from the city and the suburbs met on the lacrosse field Tuesday in Delaware County to learn about lacrosse and how the sport can bind student-athletes from different backgrounds.

The Interboro Middle School girls’ lacrosse team played host to the 22

Anderson Middle School’s Harlem Lacrosse program joined with Interboro Middle School to help Grow the Game

players from B. Anderson Middle School in Philadelphia and their coach and volunteers at Manor Field in Essington.

The Anderson players began learning lacrosse after the school year began last September. They are part of the Harlem Lacrosse Program, which helps inner-city youth get their first experience with the game. The Harlem Leadership program is a school-based non-profit organization that provides academic intervention, leadership training, and lacrosse to at-risk youth; it recently expanded to Philly, Baltimore, Boston and Los Angeles.

Interboro coach Chris Goldberg, the founder and editor of Phillylacrosse.com, spent Monday afternoon visiting Anderson and assisting in a practice at the Cobbs Creek Park in Southwest Philadelphia. It was arranged that Program Director/coach Jody Mayer would bring Anderson to Manor Field to train with Interboro for drills and a coach-led scrimmage.

“They’re used to practicing on blacktop or in Cobbs Creek Park in space one fourth the size of a regulation field,” Goldberg said. “This was the first time they’ve played on a lined field. But I saw Monday that they were enjoying the sport as much as any other middle school player so it was great to see them continue to learn and enjoy the sport with our girls. It was a proud moment for us as coaches to see!”

As the teams were going through drills, several of the Anderson players approached the Interboro girls with questions.

“We’ve all experienced what they’re going through in learning the game as a new program,” said Dani Linker, an eighth-grader who plays center for the Bucs. “One of their girls came up to me and asked about what she should do, and I was happy to talk to her about learning to bend down to pick up the ball, and cradling.”

The Anderson team is preparing for its first game, which will be Thursday afternoon against the Finletter School from North Philadelphia, the city’s other Harlem team. In the scrimmage against Interboro, the Anderson players demonstrated some skills in attack phases of the game, but showed the need for more work defensively.

“It made me happy the times they could run down the field and actually score goals,” Linker said.

Mayer, a former field hockey and lacrosse captain at Haverford College who also was an assistant coach at her alma mater and the head coach at Friends’ Central last year, was happy to have the chance to work with the Interboro team.

“Harlem Lacrosse is very involved with teaching at-risk youth the game, and also with providing them with academic support,” she said.

“There are Harlem Lacrosse programs in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, and Los Angeles, and they have helped have an influence on the lives of more than 1,000 young people. We have Harlem graduates – men and women – who are playing Division I and Division III (college) lacrosse.”

Each day at school, Mayer keeps close tabs on her players as students as well as athletes.

“They are learning every day,” she said. “We have a bounce-back lacrosse wall and during lunch so many of them are out there throwing the ball. We were thrilled to have the chance to come here today and use a field that actually has all the lines on it.”

Aniyah Rogers, a seventh grader who plays defense, is among Mayer’s players who began practicing last September.

“I could see today how you have to keep running after them if they get past you,” she said of scrimmaging against another team. “Some of us are as fast as them, but we have a lot of things we still have to learn.”

Mayer has players from as young as fifth grade who are part of her program. “I’m not going to be able to use the fifth graders in our game,” Mayer said. “But we’ll keep them working.”

One fifth grader, Nilah Thompson, was proud to speak about her team’s camaraderie and even more happy to report she gets straight A’s. “I like lacrosse because we are part of a real team,” she said.

According to the Harlem Lacrosse website, it’s mission is “to empower the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. Harlem Lacrosse inspires children to dream about tomorrow while working hard on the field and in the classroom today.”

The Philly Harlem Lacrosse programs are sponsored by the Live Like Blaine Foundation, which honors the spirit of Blaine Steinberg (Penn Charter standout).

“So many of these kids live in unsafe areas,” Mayer said, “so their times at school and with lacrosse are some of the best times they have.”

As they posed as a group for pictures after Tuesday’s scrimmage, the Anderson and Interboro players and coaches all agreed that their shared experiences were a very positive thing – for themselves as well as for the sport of lacrosse.


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