Breaking Barriers By Sam Katz

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.

Baker and other club members at Merry Oaks Elementery. Photo courtesy of Reed Baker

This year, ELL picked up a sponsorship from the Charlotte Hounds, a Major League Lacrosse team based in Charlotte. As well, ELL gained recognition from the US Lacrosse Association. Reed hopes that with these new partners, he will be able to get the full gear needed to enroll the kids from Mary Oaks Elementary into a weekend lacrosse league.

The kids are eager to get better, and each week are looking for more ways to improve upon their skills

To Reed, teaching kids how to throw and pass a lacrosse ball is not enough. Baker wants to be able to give the kids the full experience of lacrosse, and even try and get some to the next level. With sponsorships and help from outside schools, ELL is working on getting enough gear to get the players into a league. The kids are eager to get better, and each week are looking for more ways to improves upon their skills. Getting them into a lacrosse league would help these students progress tremendously. The ultimate goal of ELL is to have these kids, “develop the skills necessary to play collegiate lacrosse.” Reed believes that in the future he can see some members getting scholarships to play lacrosse.

ELL is one of the ways Baker can give back to the game that offered him so much

Playing lacrosse in college is no easy challenge. Reed Baker will soon find out as he plans to attend Bowdoin College next fall, and begin his time on their lacrosse team. To him, lacrosse has given him the opportunity to continue his education at an exclusive college and play the game he loves. In his eyes, ELL is one of the ways that Baker can give back to the game that offered him so much. Even though the club is still young and he has to leave it behind next year, he sees it going farther than he can imagine. With strong leadership in the other club members, Reed sees no reason as to why the club should not continue to grow and thrive. As for now, Baker hopes to finish out the school year strong both academically and with the club, and can not wait to see what the future holds.

If you would like to donate lacrosse gear to Every One Loves Lacrosse, Reed Baker would be happy for your support. He can be contacted at Reed.baker@providenceday.org for inquiries.

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Created with images by keijj44 - "lacrosse player action"

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