Shoot low. Aim high.


HLL Students from P.S. 149 Travel to The University of Virginia

Check out the following YouTube slideshow from our weekend at The University of Virginia:

On March 7th, boys from P.S. 149 – The Sojourner Truth School traveled down to Charlottesville, Virginia with their coach, Wyatt Melzer, and a dedicated group of volunteer chaperones. The weekend was filled with academic exploration, leadership training workshops, and seminars with the UVA Black Law Student Association & the Dean of the School of Law . Boys were treated to private tours of Monticello, the university grounds, and the athletic center. Students spent some quality time with the UVA Lacrosse Team, as Hall of Fame UVA Lacrosse Coach Dom Starsia hosted the weekend. Thanks to all of our supporters in Charlottesville and beyond for such an incredible weekend.

Off to Prep: Nine HLL Students Earn Boarding School Scholarships

Before the March 10th notification deadline, Malcolm checked his email religiously for updates on his admission status. Finally, the good news arrived.

In addition to lacrosse, Malcolm tap dances and takes opera singing lessons. He’ll be attending Groton School in the fall, where he will be involved in multiple dramatic clubs, football and lacrosse.











“Prehensile…Capable of grasping! Coach will gave me a really good formula for that one.” Malcolm’s leg bounced up and down nervously as he fumbled vocabulary flash cards. He had committed them to memory over the past four months in preparation for the SSAT, a standardized exam required for all applicants to private secondary schools.

Three weeks later, Malcolm’s scores came back with remarkable results. By April, he was balancing scholarship offers from some of the best boarding schools in New England. He and his family decided that Malcom would enroll at Goton School in September 2012.

In Harlem, stories like Malcolm’s are remarkable. This year alone, Malcolm joins eight other HLL student-athletes offered a total of nearly $2.7 million in scholarships from boarding schools outside New York City.

Three of the nine will be attending junior boarding schools in Fall 2012 (Cardigan Mountain School, Eaglebrook School, and Indian Mountain School). Junior boarding schools help prepare boys in grades six through nine for the leap to prestigious secondary boarding schools, and all offer their own highly-regarded secondary school placement support in the student’s ninth grade year.

New Jersey HS Student Raises Awareness, Gathers Resources for HLL

Lucius DeGregorio- a freshman at Bergen Catholic (NJ) – is the same age as many of the boys walking around Harlem with lacrosse sticks. But his age didn’t stop him from initiating an impressive giving movement.

Working alongside his father (Joe DeGregorio), Tri-State Lacrosse Director Ross Turco, and Ridgewood Lacrosse (NJ) parent Eric Bachmann, Lucius collected nearly three truckloads of equipment to benefit HLL Laxers. This dedicated team gathered and delivered helmets, gloves, lacrosse jerseys, shorts, and an array of lacrosse goals directly to Frederick Douglass Academy. Ridgewood Lacrosse donated five lacrosse goals over the span of two months.

Lucius will be helping over the summer as a volunteer at the first annual HLL Summer Leadership Academy, where many of the participants will be using gear donated by him and his peers.

HLL Organizes Trips to Brown, Princeton and Yale – Where Coaches and Players Show Kids the Ropes

Huddled together on a New Jersey Transit traincar back from Princeton, two dozen HLL boys anxiously awaited their turn to list off their top five Ivy League schools.

“[Visting these schools] helps  initiate a vital dialogue about pursuing a college scholarship,” explained Jake Klein, “and we love it when students get to talk with college kids and experience a true collegiate ‘day in the life’. To sit in a student cafeteria next to undergrads discussing the political atmosphere in Iran, all while the Arab Student Association passes out free Baklava at a club fair… There’s no substitute for that.”

At Brown, the boys caught a campus tour from a few med school students: HLL Founding Board Member Sam Klein and classmates Sarah Rapoport, John Williams and Erica Alexander. After watching Brown take on UMass, the kids were able to enjoy meatball subs with Brown Lacrosse players and their families, like All-Ivy goalie Will Round and defenseman Sam Ford. Head Coach Lars Tiffany and his staff organized an incredibly memorable day for the boys.  “I am so happy for these boys and proud of [HLL] for enabling these boys to receive such opportunities,” Tiffany said, “…normalizing the academic and university process is vital and [HLL] is doing it.”

The next month, Princeton Coach Christopher Bates arranged for the boys to take a walking tour of his university and hang out with him on the team’s home turf, 1952 Stadium. Attackman Luke Armour and goalie Tyler Fiorito helped lead the tours, along with members from the Princeton-Blairstown Center. The latter aims to help inner city kids experience outdoor wilderness settings, and they provided nearly a dozen tour guides for the day.  Two days later, HLL returned to Princeton to watch the team battle Dartmouth. Following the game, HLL boys were able to eat and relax with members from the Princeton and Dartmouth squads. “The alumni and parent associations from these schools have been so welcoming,” said Klein.   Sally Campbell, whose son Fergus plays for Dartmouth, introduced our players to her son’s teammates post-game.

In April, Yale Head Coach Andy Shay arranged a practice on Yale’s fields, as well as tours, meals in the residential dining halls, and team tickets to see Yale play Harvard. Afterwards, HLL kids procured  signatures from some of the game’s star players.

Prep Pioneers Aim High: Ninth Grade HLL Students at Peddie School (NJ) and Cardigan Mountain School (NH) Making Big Strides

The three Harlem Laxers (whose success as boarding school applicants helped turn an experiment into a central HLL program) are now thriving at their respective boarding schools.

Two are starting on the varsity lax team at Peddie School. They spent their Spring Break in Colorado with their lacrosse team – doing preseason workouts, hiking, and playing games. They are adapting to the academic conditions, and both students have made great sets of friends.

A third boy, doing a ninth grade year at Cardigan Mountain School (grades 6-9), has received a full scholarship to attend Kent School in Connecticut through grade 12. His grades rose from a C average at FDA to a B+ average at Cardigan, and he was recently voted “Student-Athlete of the Week” in May. During breaks from school, he likes to snowboard with his Cardigan  pals.

HLL Boys Happy to Host

Concord-Carlisle (MA) Lacrosse Program Brings Boys to Harlem for Weekend of Lacrosse and Service in Fourth Successful Visit

— from Cynthia Sorn’s article in the “Carlisle Mosquito”, April 13, 2012

HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY  –  Kids in Carlisle and Harlem have more similarities than differences—that is one of the insights gained in an ongoing exchange between the Concord-Carlisle Youth Lacrosse (CCYL) program and Harlem Lacrosse & Leadership.  During the weekend of March 30, approximately 24 eighth-grade members from CCYL traveled down to the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, New York City, for a spring “athletic leadership” exchange.

The FDA team visited Concord and Carlisle last October, staying with local host families. “It brings out the best in our community,” said CCYL head coach Tim Dibble of the recent event. The weekend represented the continuing partnership between Frederick Douglass Academy and CCYL.  The CCYL boys traveled by bus on Friday, March 30, and played numerous lacrosse games with players from Frederick Douglass Academy. “I’m so impressed with all the boys,” Dibble said. “Concord-Carlisle (CC) carried themselves incredibly well.”

When they first gathered together, there was a brief moment of social awkwardness, but it did not last long. “After about 90 seconds, the boys were like best friends…they were swapping jerseys and wristbands,” Dribble added.  The Concord-Carlisle boys paired with their Harlem counterparts and shadowed them in class at Frederick Douglass Academy.

After playing a few games on Friday, the CC boys were each partnered with a boy from Harlem. They shared personal information, and then described five facts about their partner to the whole group. “It was so great,” said Dibble, “because the process highlighted the players’ common interests and concerns.”

Dibble added that one of the major highlights of the visit was the two teams’ community service work for a nearby homeless shelter. The boys put together over 1,200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “The activity was inspirational,” Dibble said. “The boys were told that it wasn’t an exercise . . . that what they were doing was putting into the bag someone’s meal for the day. I was so impressed . . . in one second, these guys got it.”

HLL Lecture Series on “Civil Rights & The Holocaust” Starts Conversations with Students on How to Combat Racism, Inequality


This past Spring, former Israeli Teaching Fellow and Israeli National Men’s Lacrosse player Max Spitalnick offered a five-session lecture series to Harlem Lacrosse & Leadership students from Frederick Douglass Academy I (FDA) and P.S. 149- The Sojourner Truth School. The lectures, part of HLL’s ongoing character education and historical awareness programming, utilized stories and imagery from the Holocaust (described to the boys in terms like “Shoah”) and from the American Civil Rights movement to teach a variety of lessons to the boys.

The HLL Leadership Series, entitled “Civil Rights and the Holocaust”, served to initiate thoughtful conversations among students about the dangers of large-scale dehumanization and the importance of humanitarianism, in history and in modern societies. Many of the students – reading books like Daniel’s Story and Elie Wiesel’s Night in their public school Language Arts classes as a part of a nationwide “Genocide Awareness Month” – were ready to engage in active debates on topics relevant to the Holocaust. Few of the boys knew, however, how an entire continent could be dragged into nearly destroying an entire group of people.

In addressing these topics, boys were enlightened by honest discussions on how racist, genocidal movements could develop in everyday societies. Coach Spitalnick, using photo-diaries from his own studies abroad, showed boys the Holocaust-era Polish ghetto of Warsaw and described how physically separating people along ethnic lines helped to reinforce racist ideologies. Spitalnick related these lessons to the overall notions of minority struggle in the face of large-scale discrimination, particularly in America. Drawing on the accomplishments of both schools’ namesake historical figures (Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth), Spitalnick pushed boys to describe those characteristics that could help HLL students to break down physical and cultural barriers in their own communities.


“Who in your neighborhoods are treated like they are less than human?” asked Spitalnick. “Does it hurt their chances at getting back on their feet? What can you do to make a difference?” Many students, experienced in working at homeless shelters and in preparing meals for the hungry in Harlem, answered the query without much pause.

“When a lot of kids pass by the homeless, they think they are less than human and laugh at them,” said Mohamed Korouma, a 7th grade lacrosse player from FDA. “We need to treat them like humans. Coaches always tell us that they deserve dignity and that’s why we make meals carefully for them.”

Spitalnick, working for the American Jewish Committee in New York, volunteers his free time with Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership regularly. His constant presence at games and practices helped lay the foundation for the boys’ understanding across the series. Because of the emotional bond Spitalnick had forged using the game of lacrosse, students felt comfortable discussing such mature topics in great depth.

“We want students to be able to transcend these lessons on an event that will forever be known as a dark time in history and become ambassadors for greater cultural understanding and humanitarianism,” explained Spitalnick, who regularly tells boys tales of his days teaching and playing lacrosse in Israel. “These kids may have minimal exposure to the subject matter, but rarely are they able to cross certain lines and dive deeply into the content. We related the struggles of the Jewish community, of other minority communities, and of the African American community to struggles that many of their families face today. You could see the exact moment when it clicked for the kids invited to these lectures, and it was very special.”

The conclusion of the series brought HLL student-athletes back to the present day, focusing on current struggles and critically engaging on how they can proactively be a part of future solutions. “The world wants to put you in boxes and define you in certain terms,” said Jake Klein, HLL Program Director and middle school lacrosse coach at FDA. “If you box people off too much, it can take you down the road to evil. It is your job to open your eyes, stand in the gap, and refuse to be shut off from the world.”


Lacrosse stars Max Seibald and Andrew Wasik visit HLL, present generous donation from Wimmer Solutions

HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY  –  On November 29th, boys from the Harlem Lacrosse & Leadership program at Frederick Douglass Academy convened in their school’s auditorium for their Fall Awards ceremony. Players were commended with honors such as  academic honor roll awards, and athletic achievement awards, and “The Gildehaus Award” (in honor of Concord -Carlisle Program Director Charles Gildehaus, given to the boy demonstrating exceptional character, compassion, respect and discipline over the course of the fall season). New to the awards ceremony, and to our youngest players in the audience, were two guest presenters of considerable standing in the greater lacrosse world:

– Maximum Lacrosse Camps CEO Max Seibald. At Cornell, Max was the 2009 Collegiate National Player of the Year. Currently, he is a Nike Lacrosse Spokesperson and Denver Outlaws Midfielder.

– All-time Division II lacrosse scoring leader Andrew Wasik (Pace ’01). At Pace, Wasik was a four-time Collegiate National Player of the Year.

Andrew and Max were initially on hand to help congratulate the boys, helping to present certificates signed by both star players. They also served to deliver a $5000 donation from Seattle-based tech firm Wimmer Solutions and its CEO Matt Sauri – a well-known lacrosse enthusiast and generous philanthropist. This past summer, Connor Martin (of “Con Bro Chill” fame, Flow Society spokesperson, and Denver Outlaws attackman) participated alongside Seibald and Wasik in the Hawaii lacrosse tournament, having just attended an HLL clinic one month prior. Sauri explained to the Wimmer-sponsored team on the eve of the championship that, should they take the cup, he would donate $5000 to 4 different charities. By that point, word had spread about Connor’s involvement with the team at Frederick Douglass Academy, and Matt chose to donate to HLL. The team went on to win the tourney, earning HLL this substantial gift.

Following the ceremony, Seibald and Wasik led the boys in a shooting and passing clinic on the boys’ concrete hometurf. The rain presented a few obstacles on the slippery handball courts, but HLL couldn’t get the players to leave after the skillful shot demonstration put on by Seibald. Everybody had a blast, and we are looking forward to seeing Max and Andrew again down the road.

Soul of Lacrosse Day feeds the spirit of HLL Laxers, stomachs of Harlem homeless

HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY  –  On the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving, forty Harlem Lacrosse & Leadership middle school players met in the cafeteria at Frederick Douglass Academy for the first annual Soul of Lacrosse Day. They arrived slightly before 9 AM to find seven tables lined with cans of peanut butter, jelly, and nearly a mountain of bread. What followed was a monumental competitive effort by the boys to build over 750 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless, benefitting the soup kitchen at St. Matthew’s Baptist Church on 152nd Street and Edgecombe Blvd. The sandwiches helped to feed families over the Thanksgiving Break.

Following the sandwich drive, the boys hopped on a downtown train bound for Bowling Green Plaza, where they spent the rest of the afternoon at the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian. Thanks in large part to the efforts of the museums volunteers, who spared no personnel to accommodate our group, the boys were able to enjoy the Haudenosaunee Friendship Day. This day celebrated the history of the six allied nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy. For an hour the boys were given a hands on demonstration of the history and craft behind traditional Iroquois lacrosse sticks, led by renowned Onondaga artisan Alf Jacques. Next they were able to chat with a modern bearer of the Iroquois tradition, a skilled Tomahawk steelworker named Jeffrey Tripp who – with his father and their union – had worked on some of the most well-known buildings across New York. Fred Kennedy, from the Seneca nation, described to the boys the game of snow snake, in which participants launched a spearlike stick down a snow-laden track. At the day’s end, boys were given a tour of the Smithsonian Museum and it’s major exhibits, all housed within the historical U.S. Customs building in Financial District.


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