Two players face off in a lacrosse game. Photo by Kieth
Reed Baker is working to break the economic divide of Lacrosse, and give back to the game that gave him so much.
Typical lacrosse stereotypes are that it's a sport for wealthy, private school, white kids. Over time, the image of lacrosse has been contested, most infamously during the Duke Rape scandal. The Duke Men's Lacrosse team was put on trial off of false rape accusations. While all of these stereotypes surrounding the sport are not true, one is, and can not be denied. The people who play lacrosse are generally economically stable. Lacrosse is an expensive sport, an average lacrosse stick costs around 150 dollars, and a complete set of gear can range anywhere from 400 to upwards of 600 dollars. That is no small price. The cost of lacrosse limits who can access and play the game.
Current senior at Providence Day School, Reed Baker, is trying to break the connection between economic status and the game he cares so passionately for: “lacrosse should not be as exclusive as it is, it needs to be available to anyone who wants to play it, not to anyone who can afford it.” This vision began Bakers freshman year of highschool, when he was asked to help out and volunteer with former Providence Day student and lacrosse star, Kyle Asher, at a local lacrosse clinic for underprivileged kids. After becoming heavily involved with the program outside of school, Reed decided he wanted to invest in a program of his own more seriously and bring it to Providence Day.
Reed working with members of his club. Photo by Meg Filoon
This goal transpired into the service learning club, Everyone Loves Lacrosse, or more commonly called ELL for short: an after school program that provides basic lacrosse skills and training to kids at Merry Oaks Elementary, a Charlotte Mecklenburg School with kids who have not been exposed to lacrosse due to the economic factors of the game. In some cases, Reed says, “this is the first time these kids have seen a lacrosse stick, we have to grow the game in places where it can not spread without our help.” Spreading the game is the main goal of ELL. Reed wants to be able to introduce these kids to another sport, and give them a unique opportunity to succeed.
As the club began to grow, people began to pay more attention. Last year, an article in Charlotte Weekly placed Reed and his club into the spotlight. Everyone in the lacrosse community wanted to become a part of the club, or help in some way: “ I had parents asking me about the club, and coaches from Country Day email me asking out how they could help me.” Although, this was only the beginning.