Reflecting -- Memorial Day Weekend

If you’re reading this it means you survived the weeks after Memorial Day Weekend. For most people, #MDW serves as the quintessential, “end of spring”, seamlessly transitioning into our summer whites and pastels, shedding off the parkas and raincoats.  For the lacrosse world, we transition from high school championships and NCAA Finals, to travel teams and recruiting season. It’s a bittersweet parallel. Spring is about the “here and now”, playing with your “ride or die” teammates, competing for school pride and coming together as a well oiled machine. Conversely, in summer, a player worries about the abstract idea of playing lacrosse at the next level… the recruitment process. It’s an exciting, but stressful time for the individual who just spent the entire spring season relying on teammates and coaches for support in tough games.  The payoff of a successful summer recruiting season can be enormous; landing some fortunate few a scholarship to the academic institution of his or her dreams.

I was fortunate enough to spend my Memorial Day, watching my Duke Blue Devils battle the Yale Bulldogs, in the company of family and friends on the east coast. It was a perfect ending to a lacrosse filled weekend in Stony Brook, NY, where I coached an elite team of high school “Los Angelenos” at the National School Girls recruiting tournament.  As an added bonus we were able to watch the women’s Division I NCAA games!

Needless to say I was refreshed, motivated, and might I add a little sleep deprived. On Tuesday night, on a red eye back to LAX, I began to reminisce on the glory days of my high school lacrosse team, getting recruited, and loving tournament time lacrosse. Somewhere between thinking about long bus rides and team dinners I had an “epiphany” of sorts.  For most of our HLLA participants, this was their first spring lacrosse season, transitioning to summer. I got super jazzed about how our spring season at Harlem-LA had gone, and what we had on the horizon for summer programming. My mind also took me deeper into thinking how excited I was for the majority of our participants to be experiencing their first Spring to Summer “lax transition”, and I hoped it would be the first of many. BRING THE JUICE!

SPRING sure had sprung for Harlem LA. From March to May, our weeks were filled with play days, field trips, and college lacrosse games.  The love of the game grew within each player, as did the culture of our burgeoning programs. Ideals like teamwork, responsibility, and perseverance were themes of our huddles. Hard lessons were learned, and friendships were fostered. Relationships with partner programs blossomed; especially those with Torrey Pines, StringKing, Advice Period, Whittier, and so many more. Without the help of others, our staff would have been dealing with problems much larger than, “where’s the pair to this glove?”  Our volunteer attendance at Play Days was outstanding! The kids especially loved our high school volunteers, who are just young enough to learn new dance moves, and still “be cool”. Our final Play Day, the second City Cup Challenge, brought the City Cup trophy from View Park to John Muir Middle School. We can’t wait for our 3rd challenge to see where the cup travels to next.

“Summer lovin’, had me a blaaast…” lax loving that is! Our schedules are jammed packed with lacrosse, lacrosse, and another helping of lacrosse.  Last weekend we were down in Irvine, CA to show the SoCal lacrosse community what Harlem Lacrosse LA has been working on all year. Each of our boys and girls teams had at least one win, but everyone agreed that we learned a lot, while having a blast. This SoCal Summer Kickoff was just that, as we dive into the coming weeks with Thacher Overnight Camp, a Six Flags field trip, the Tenacity Project Lake Tahoe tournament, and a FOUR WEEK Summer Day Camp!  All of this, right before school starts back up in August. No better way to improve your skills, than to have a stick in your hand all summer! Like NYC Coach Joel always stresses, repetition is key. We are very interested in seeing who has the highest attendance this summer, when it’s so easy to just hit the snooze button or head to the beach. Ahhh, the problems of offering lacrosse programming in Los Angeles, we have to compete with the beach! Maybe that’s why Coach Ernie and Coach Tim have fully embraced playing beach lacrosse, and plan on bringing our players the best of both worlds. Plus, it keeps the summer lax life fun and fresh. Also on the radar is our amazing opportunity to receive a grant from LA2050. Be on the lookout for our community outreach to spur the voting and win in the polls! Cough-cough, StringKing will be holding a competition over the weekend to help us grow our followers on social, so make sure to enter to win!

Signing off, stay alert for what’s cooking in the Harlem LA kitchen for summer and how you can get involved! :)      

Coach Maddy