Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lacrosse in Harlem Leads to Scholarships

Harlem's youth lacrosse scene was virtually nonexistent just a few years ago. Now some local stars are securing scholarships to tony boarding schools, where the sport is a major force.

Daniel and David Mark had never held lacrosse sticks until two years ago. But the rookies became fixated after they received equipment at Frederick Douglass Academy, a public school near West 148th Street.

The lacrosse stick became "an extension of their arm," their mother, Marcia Mark, said. "They walked down the street with it. They turned the TV off with it."

Devotion to a new sport led to full scholarships at private boarding schools: Daniel, now 14 years old, is at the George School in Pennsylvania, and his 12-year-old brother David is at the Eaglebrook School in Massachusetts.

For Marlik Toure, 17, lacrosse dramatically changed his life. After his mother died seven years ago, he was arrested for stealing a bike and missed enough time at middle school to become ineligible for sports.

"I don't know where I'd be without it," said Mr. Toure, now a scholarship student at New Jersey's Peddie School. "It wouldn't be here."

The three youths are among more than 100 students who have been introduced to the sport over the past five years with the help of Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership. The nonprofit organization created a second boys team at P.S. 149 on West 117th Street last year, and a girls team will be added to the roster at Frederick Douglass.

So far, 11 young lacrosse players trained through the program have received scholarships to boarding schools, according to the group. Other students from Harlem have flourished at a sport that is typically a prep-school province, traveling to and winning at top tournaments.

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