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Just under an hour outside of Philadelphia, a Pennsylvania lacrosse program is demonstrating that the sport is more than just a game for fun or physical activity. It’s about building character and giving back to the community. 

Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse, which serves families in the Spring-Ford, Pottstown and Methacton school districts in Pennsylvania, is one of nearly 40 member organizations throughout the greater Philadelphia region that comprise the US Lacrosse-affiliated Southeastern Pennsylvania Youth Lacrosse Association.

Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse provides a safe, fun environment for its 200 members in grades K-8 year-round to play the sport while learning the values of sportsmanship and respect. Each player is provided an opportunity to develop at a comfortable pace, with instruction that balances personal development and competitive play.

The development goes well beyond the field of play, though. The league is always seeking ways to better serve its athletes and community, including two programs it recently created that have nothing to do with the sport itself. 

Understanding the benefits and opportunities of completing secondary education, Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse launched a college scholarship program this year. The scholarship was created for high school seniors that had previously played in the Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse program for at least four years or attended Spring-Ford High School, offering an additional $500 in financial support.

Paul Power, director of coaching for Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse, came up with the idea while thinking about the scholarships his children were awarded from organizations in the community.

“My children have benefited from the local community scholarships so I wanted to come up with a way our program could give back,” Power said. “We want to show we are more than just about lacrosse. We’re about giving back to the community.”

As part of the scholarship, applicants have to draft and submit an essay on a lesson they learned from lacrosse — whether from a parent, coach, official, teammate or the sport itself — and how they’ll use it in their future. 

The program is a benefit for athletes and parents alike. The scholarship has received positive feedback and helps the organization in its mission to better develop and create opportunities for its athletes. In its first year, the organization awarded three scholarships during a virtual scholarship night at the end of May.

Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse, like many across the country, was unable to offer its spring league programming due to the coronavirus pandemic. Understanding some of its youth members were facing challenges affiliated with the pandemic, the organization wanted to find a way to continue serving them during this time.

When students had to transition to virtual homeschooling to finish out their school years, the board of Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse created a new program aimed at providing better technology access to members who may not have the equipment to complete remote learning. 

Paul Solomon, treasurer for Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse, came up with the idea of purchasing and loaning out Chromebooks for youth members who needed them after attending a virtual board call for the local school district and hearing feedback from fellow parents. 

“While on the board call, I saw a chat from a parent that mentioned they had five children but only one laptop, so they were unsure how they were going to make this transition work,” Soloman said. “I started to wonder if there was something we could do for our families, specifically who might have an issue having enough laptops for their children.” 

Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse worked directly with the local schools to ensure their families had enough laptops. Wanting to continue finding ways to give back to its community, the laptop program served as a catalyst to create a new community impact fund for the organization to have a more established and consistent way to give back. The fund, which the scholarship will become a part of, will be a yearly part of the organization’s budget.

Since its creation, the sport of lacrosse has always been about bringing the community together. The ways Spring-Ford Youth Lacrosse is serving its community demonstrates how this value still continues in the sport today.

LOCALLY GROWN: NORTHEAST

Greater Rochester

Chapter president Alan McLiverty has been a US Lacrosse member since 1998. He has been a high school official for 26 years, a college official for 20 years and recently took to the indoor game as an official for USBOXLA.

Philadelphia

Girls’ lacrosse coaches at Eyekonz Sports, Shipley and Conestoga started the Lacrosse Village Initiative to provide relief for healthcare workers and community members affected by COVID-19. They donate meal kits to local food pantries, appreciation kits composed of snacks, bandanas and notes to healthcare workers at local hospitals and other healthcare facilities, hygiene kits to shelters, masks to local hospitals and cash donations to Philabundance.

Pittsburgh

The GOLD and WPYLA recognize the value in aligning with US Lacrosse and initiated a “Day of Education” in preparation for their season. Seventy-three coaches completed a Coach Development Program Level 1 and 51 officials received US Lacrosse training.

Western New York

Chapter president Ed Greenway is a longtime ambassador of US Lacrosse and champion for the sport in the region. He is the New York State Section 6 boys’ lacrosse chairman, president of the Western New York Summer Lacrosse League and longtime coach of Williamsville East High School.