By Kyle Harrison

What's going on everybody? The past 4 weeks have been pretty crazy for me. I was in California for awhile, then back to east to NY for awhile, and last week I was in Vermont. I hope your seasons are beginning well, and for those who haven't started, I hope you worked hard in the off season! Rather than give advice in this column, I'd like to tell you all about the best lacrosse experience I've had in quite some time.

I was in Northern California for the majority of my trip, but received a call asking me to come help out at a clinic in San Francisco sponsored by a company called Lacrosse for Life. The people involved in this organization were some of the best people I've been fortunate enough to meet. They are truly selfless people, who put others in front of themselves consistently, and have had a lasting impact on me. These people, Andrew McDonald, Josh Miller and Johanna Thomashefski started this organization in hopes of presenting kids with great opportunities, alternatives and ways to better themselves that they might not have otherwise. The top of their website reads, "Our mission is to create after-school youth lacrosse teams in under-served, urban communities in San Francisco in collaboration with schools, community centers, other neighborhood agencies and members of the community. By participating in a competitive, team environment, local children will learn self esteem through the values of goal-setting, discipline and respect for self and others, enabling them to establish a framework for personal improvement that is applicable to all areas of LIFE." Beat that.

As I got out of the car, and walked over towards the field I wasn't sure what to expect. I was greeted by Johanna Thomashefski, Andrew was on the field with the kids already. I walked on to the field to see kids of all different races, boys and girls, some wearing jeans, some wearing football jersey's, and some dressed in athletic wear. As I walked up, some knew who I was, and some didn't. I looked around. For the first time in forever, kids weren't talking about their equipment, the best pocket, the best head, what cost more, whose shoes are better. They didn't care. They were out to learn a game, and that was the only important thing to them. I saw one kid with an STX head, brine pole, and one STX glove and a brine glove. He didn't know the difference, nor was he interested in learning. For the first time I was around kids who didn't think they knew everything about the game and were really inspired from my story, and wanted to learn. I taught them a few dodges, and we began to do a drill to practice them. As the kids grasped the dodges, and were performing them to perfection, it was one of the most gratifying experiences I've had to this point in my life.

The clinic came to a close, and I was presented with the opportunity to speak to the kids for a few minutes about my experience as a minority in the game of lacrosse. They listened intently, and I felt like they will really take some of the things I said to heart, and hopefully use them in their own experiences. Somebody had a magazine cover from my junior year of college where I'm pictured sitting on a motorcycle. The kids told jokes and made fun of me and the pose, similar to the way my teammates at Hopkins did, and it was great. I'm not sure if they realize how much of an impact they had on me. Hopefully you guys are reading this, I haven't forgotten about you.

To be completely honest, this experience was incredible, and far too meaningful to be able to get it out on paper. But for all you lacrosse players out there, take a second out of your day, and go to this site, and take a look at this program and these kids. They truly have something special going on out there in California. To all you kids out in San Fran who I was fortunate enough to meet - Thank you for reminding me why I love this game so much, for its purity, which you all embody every time you step on the field. One of the more talented kids out there said to me as I was leaving, "You know I'm going to be better than you right?" Well buddy, I hope your right, and I'll be looking for you in 10 years!

Oh yeah, I missed some business while I was away - to all you Hopkins haters out there - don't worry about us baby, we'll be back!


March 10, 2006


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