Harlem Lacrosse-Los Angeles brings inclusive program to Compton High

Harlem Lacrosse-Los Angeles (HL-LA) is primarily a school-based, wrap around program in collaboration with the Compton Unified School District (CUSD). School-based girl and boy team programs at Walton Middle School, and Davis Middle School, feed into the Compton High School program, which has a sanctioned girl team and boy team.

Executive Director Ciji Henderson says, “[HL-LA] partners with CUSD where the majority of our year-round programming takes place in CUSD classrooms, lunchrooms, hallways, and fields. It is only fitting and most importantly, valuable that our summer programming remains local. Valuing our local landscapes increases our participants’ agency and pride in their own community.

HL-LA offers four different seasons a year: fall, winter, spring and summer. All (except summer) are 10-week long seasons where students practice two to four times a week and a game a week during the fall and spring. In the summer, they offer two camps, one of which kicked off the 2023 summer when staff and volunteers took 75 rising CUSD 7th-12th graders on a four-day immersive lacrosse camp outing hosted at The Thacher School – an elite boarding school in Ojai, California.

Members of the HL-LA Middle School Boys’ team posing with Team Mexico’s world-class lacrosse team at the 2023 World Games in San Diego, California.

Participants enjoyed the beautiful scenic grounds of Thacher. Highlights included hiking, swimming, sunset and glow lax, a Juneteenth celebration, and of course the infamous student-staff lacrosse games. Age appropriate SEL (Social Emotional Learning) activities were centered on leadership and personal development creating an experience that bonded players from our six different programs – designed to build up the HL-LA family.

The four-week local summer day camp hosted at Enterprise Park in Compton included intentional unique experiences that focused on improved lacrosse development, academic enrichment, social emotional learning with the emphasis of building healthy relationships with peers, family, and community members.

Compton High School Girls Coach, Christine Page noted: “We have had an incredible four weeks of summer day camp for the High School girls’ program in Harlem Lacrosse LA. The four weeks of summer day camp consisted of daily lacrosse and fitness training, learning and field trips.

As a team we were able to provide more in-depth lacrosse instruction; strategically planned social-emotional activities focusing on the importance of teamwork, communication, and self-reflection; post-secondary workshops learning about college and career options; and weekly field trips. This was a summer of growth and connection, and I am excited to use this momentum as we continue to program into the new school year.”

Another summer highlight: HL-LA middle school boys visited San Diego to enjoy the Men’s World Lacrosse Championships. Participants of course got a chance to witness some of the world’s best lacrosse players compete against each other, but the students also enjoyed time at the beach, touring some of San Diego’s college campuses, and spending quality time with their teammates and coaches to further strengthen team culture. The hope is that student-athletes take away an even deeper love of the game and their team, while also giving them a chance to imagine what their future could look like in lacrosse or college opportunities!

Compton High School Boys Coach, Keith Parkman II said, “This summer, Day Camp was essential to the growth of community within our High School Boys program. Working with each other four days a week for six hours a day allowed us to grow athletically through uninterrupted lacrosse/athletic training. Our team is on the rise and Summer 2023 will be remembered as one of the pivotal points in [HL-LA] High School Boys growth towards success.”


Dennis J. Freeman Written by:

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