Last fall, the Cleveland State men’s lacrosse team hosted a series of youth player clinics at the Urban Community School in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Once-a-week from September to November, Viking players and coaches made the trek from their downtown campus to help teach youngsters the basics of the game.
Last Saturday, many of those same kids had the opportunity to enjoy a reciprocating visit to Cleveland State’s campus to take part in CSU’s inaugural Community Day, held in conjunction with its game against Hampton University.
Community Day provided about 200 Cleveland-area youths with a top-notch lacrosse experience completely for free. In addition to getting a free ticket for the game against Hampton University, the children received lunch, a t-shirt and attended a post-game autograph session with players from both teams.
Cleveland State head coach Dylan Sheridan was among those to welcome the youngsters before the game and provide them with some introductory information on the game of lacrosse and Cleveland State University. The kids then enjoyed the game from front row seats inside the Krenzler Dome. Cleveland State jumped out to an early lead and defeated visiting Hampton, 19-6.
“We had a great day of lacrosse. The kids really enjoyed learning about Cleveland State, gaining insight on the life of a college student-athlete, and getting to know CSU’s lacrosse players,” said Matt Burke, coordinator of US Lacrosse’s Lacrosse Communities Project – Cleveland, which co-hosted the event.
During pregame, the kids had the chance to walk the route that the CSU players take from the Wolstein Athletics Center to the Kenzler Dome. Afterwards, coaches and players from both teams took time to sign autographs and take pictures with the kids.
“The kids had many questions about field dimensions, the stick, and the history of the sport. A big hit of the day was the goal celebration songs and the music at the breaks,” Burke said.
US Lacrosse’s Lacrosse Communities Project – Cleveland provided free round-trip transportation, t-shirts, and tickets for the Ohio City youth. Cleveland State provided discounted $5 tickets for all adults accompanying children, and covered the cost for food and other expenses.
“This was a great experience for the kids and their families,” Burke said.
Cleveland is one of three pilot locations, along with Albany, N.Y. and Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Lacrosse Communities Project. Through this initiative, US Lacrosse is committed to making the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in cities across the country focal points for growing lacrosse.
Through institutional partnerships with Ohio City Inc. and its Near West Recreation program, the North Coast Ohio Chapter of US Lacrosse, the Urban Community School, with support from St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland State University and the City of Cleveland Municipal School District, the Lacrosse Communities Project-Cleveland provides the framework necessary to create self-sustaining, multi-generational youth lacrosse programs.