FDA HS Boys Spring Season Recap 2018
The Frederick Douglass Academy HS Spring season was an opportunity for the student-athletes in the program to focus on developing a strong team culture and identity while also learning to compete at a high level. We continued daily academic services throughout the Spring, while also allowing the lacrosse part of each day to take on a greater importance. Each player earned his spot on the varsity team through commitment to team study halls, workouts, meetings, film sessions, and tutoring throughout the school year. We were fortunate to have the highest percentage of academically eligible student-athletes in FDA lacrosse history thanks to both their hard work in the classroom and the constant support from our committed tutors!
Our captains Clifford Pollard, Davon Johnson, and Mamadou Meite shared over 15 years of combined Harlem Lacrosse experience heading into the season. They consistently set the tone for the team with their personal accountability, high expectations for their teammates, work ethic, and performance. Having such experienced, upstanding leaders allowed us to give much of the direction of the team over to the players, allowing many of them opportunities to take on leadership roles. The poise and encouragement demonstrated by the players on the bench as we endured the adversity of a second-half deficit during the championship game was a reflection of leadership at all levels which ultimately helped the team come back and win its second-in-a-row city title.
The FDA school community and local Harlem community took tremendous pride in the team’s success in the weeks immediately following the season. The young people of Harlem Lacrosse have built a platform that allows them the privilege of representing something much bigger than themselves when they put on the jersey.
We are proud of our seniors for accomplishing much over the course of their Harlem Lacrosse career and leaving the program better than they found it; thank you Amadou, Joquan, Mohamed, Mamadou, Nick, Clifford, Akili, and Gary.
Spring Season Recap
We began the season with a spring break trip to Richmond, Virginia. Families from the Collegiate School hosted the boys for the weekend in their homes, we scrimmaged Highland Springs and Collegiate, we watched Richmond take on Bellarmine in a Division I lacrosse game, and we visited Randolph-Macon College. Our players spent time at two beautiful but very different college campuses and began to understand some of the important questions to consider when choosing to apply to colleges. As a team, we learned that we have the power to be leaders in the sport after setting a great example for Highland Springs’s second-year program – they were an impressive group of young men hungry to learn from the FDA team.
We played the first non-league games in program history this year, beating Monsignor Farrell from the New York City catholic league 10-9 in double overtime in Staten Island; losing to Middletown, the Rhode Island Division 2 state champions, in a 17-14 shootout at Randall’s Island; and winning another overtime game 11-10 at Wooster School, a prep school in Danbury, Connecticut. Perhaps the best compliment we received all year was from Wooster’s coach following our game when he mentioned that our group demonstrated the highest level of class as an opponent.
Two of our most important experiences during league play were a 10-9 loss at Tottenville and a 23-6 win at Cardozo. FDA had beaten Tottenville in last year’s championship, and experiencing a close, hard-fought loss this year was a rewarding growth experience for our players as athletes and as young men – and one that the team handled with class. The Cardozo game was an all-around team effort in which nearly every goal we scored was assisted, every player contributed significantly on the field, and every player had the opportunity to be a positive, supportive force on the sideline. The team was in such good spirits following the game that they indulged their coaching staff by blasting Zac Brown Band on the portable speaker during the walk home through Queens.
The team worked hard every day and developed an increasingly strong sense of urgency throughout the season. This was most evident in the week and a half of practice between the regular season and the playoffs that ultimately helped the group avenge their only conference loss from the regular season in the semifinals and overcome a second-half deficit in the championship game. We defeated Tottenville 11-8 in the semifinals in front of a large group of the FDA student body, volunteer tutors, parents, teachers, and every Harlem Lacrosse boys’ middle school program. It was a tremendous reward for the players to compete in front of many of the people who have supported them closely throughout their Harlem Lacrosse experience. The following weekend, the team defeated Hunter College High School 16-13 to secure back-to-back PSAL city championships.
Following the season, seniors Clifford Pollard and Mamadou Meite were named All-Americans. Clifford was also the deserving recipient of the Wingate Award, given to the most accomplished student-athlete in New York City in his sport. Mamadou and Clifford were both All-League, as well as junior midfielder Jyasi Watson and sophomore attackman Mame Diba. Senior Mohamed Kourouma led our team in groundballs by a wide margin and was the most disruptive long pole in the league this year. He was later named public school team MVP in the Mayor’s Cup, a New York City All-Star game.