Movements to make the sport of lacrosse appeal to a wider variety of people in America are nothing new. After all, With Leather’s Man of the Year nominee for 2011, 2012 and probably 2013, Con Bro Chill, is practically the Gandhi of lacrosse, using his peaceful BRO-sistence to help bring the LAX lifestyle to the masses. Additionally, Happy Madison henchman Peter Dante is also a lifelong lacrosse player and enthusiast, and he’s been reaching out to athletes of all ages to help put an end to the stereotype of the “lacrosse bro” that has been hurting the sport’s growth so much.
While those two celebrities may be clashing in ideologies, there’s a new(ish) movement afoot in New York City to bring lacrosse to children who may not have the opportunity to ever try it, because of the fact that it’s expensive and has predominantly been played by rich white kids.
It is a perception that still resonates in urban communities. But across New York City, the image of lacrosse is shifting. Nonprofit groups have been attracting a racially and economically diverse population to play a sport, created by Native Americans, that has long been associated with elite prep schools and colleges.
Fall is the sport’s traditional off-season, but last Sunday, Joshua and Jordyn, 6, joined 300 other children on a turf field at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5, for practice with Brooklyn Lacrosse.
The club is a two-year-old nonprofit group offering instruction at a reduced cost. It broke off from the Brooklyn Crescents, the borough’s longest running club, which has been playing since 2006 at Poly Prep Country Day School, in Bay Ridge. The Crescents, still thriving, enrolled 250 players this fall. (Via the New York Times)
I’m always a sucker for a story like this, as it reminds me of when I was a volunteer with Big Brothers, and I taught my little brother how to play golf. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he watched me swing and asked, “Is there a sport you don’t suck at?”
But I see this first and foremost as a story of people destroying stereotypes, and that’s something that I can always appreciate and get behind.
The boys’ coaching director for Brooklyn Lacrosse, Mr. West, 43, is a quiet advocate. A lean, 6-foot, gray-bearded former lacrosse player from the University of Massachusetts, he is still a skateboarder and an avid martial arts practitioner. Mr. West, black, Muslim and a Cobble Hill parent, dislikes stereotypes.
“When a parent sees me conducting a practice, I think all of the notions that they might have: ‘O.K., this is a prep school sport, my kid is going to become white-ified or whatever,’ all that stuff goes out the window,” he said. “Because I am teaching their child the way I would teach my own children. We’re teaching more than just the sport.”
Remarkable work, Mr. West. Just don’t forget to teach the kids that it’s one thing to be a LAX BRO, but it’s another, much more important thing to be a LAX BRO with a positive party message. That said, here’s Con Bro Chill’s latest music video for the single, “We Should Hang Out.”