For the third year in a row, Penn played host to the Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree, an annual celebration of community partnerships through sports competition.
Behind the event was the Young Quakers Community Athletics program, an after-school initiative spearheaded by the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Penn Athletics. Founded in early 2015 — but with roots going back to 2012 — the program has sought to pair up Penn athletes with West Philadelphia elementary and middle schools through mentoring and free access to Penn athletic resources.
The Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree is the partnership’s yearly capstone event, which provides West Philadelphia lacrosse teams with an opportunity to showcase the progress they have made through working with Penn’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams during the course of the year.
Over the weekend of June 4th and 5th, junior lacrosse teams not only from the local area, but also New York City’s Harlem Lacrosse and Boston’s Metro Lacrosse teams, took part in the weekend’s on and off-field activities.
In addition to a lacrosse clinic run by the Red and Blue lacrosse teams, the programs ran scrimmages for the youth teams over the two days. Competition, however, is not the only focus put forth by the Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree’s organizers and participants, many of which cited the mentorship opportunities and sportsmanship building exercises as the weekend’s true highlights.
While not participating in lacrosse practices or scrimmages, the junior players engaged in activities ranging from scavenger hunts to listening to guest speaker Tina Sloan Green, President of the Black Women in Sport Foundation and Temple women’s lacrosse coaching icon.
“It was such a great day for the young girls, because they were able to meet more beginners from different areas who are also learning the wonderful game of lacrosse,” Penn women’s lacrosse head coach Karin Corbett said in a Penn Athletics release.
In attendance from Corbett’s team were six representatives, including recent graduates Brooke Kiley and Iris Williamson, rising juniors Caroline Cummings and Mo Leitner, and rising sophomore Katy Junior. On the men’s side was head coach Mike Murphy, who led a contingent of ten rising sophomores and juniors.
The Red and Blue athletes were well familiar with their Young Quaker counterparts, as the two groups had been collaborating on a weekly basis throughout the school year, according to Murphy.
“I think the middle-school kids benefit immensely from the exposure to each other and to our institution,” Murphy said. “And I feel our Penn players benefit from the interaction and the role of host and mentor as well.”
It is this mutualistic focus on character building that serves as the mission of the Young Quakers Community Athletics Program, highlighting the power of sport and how easily it lends itself to civic engagement. With lacrosse especially, a sport that has long been played by a select and privileged few, it is all the more meaningful to see it shared with a wider audience.
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