WHITTIER, Calif. - On Monday, February 19th, six fifth graders from View Park Elementary School experienced a day in the life of a Whittier College student-athlete. From training with the Whittier women's lacrosse team to attending Whittier's famously intimate science and math seminar-style courses, these fifth graders were able to see college life first-hand while also having fun and staying fit.
The cooperative event was arranged by Whittier head coach, Sylvia Queener and Director of Harlem Lacrosse LA, Maddy Morrissey. "Our inspiration," Coach Queener said on the day of the event, "was to introduce Harlem Lacrosse LA kids to what life is really like as a student-athlete."
Past events, she explained, focused solely on lacrosse, "which was and is always great," Maddy Morrissey said. Harlem Lacrosse LA, is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating meaningful lacrosse experiences for the children of South LA, Compton and Inglewood. The organization now operates at 5 middle schools and serves over 250 students.
"But we wanted to show them [the kids] even more," Morrissey added. "This is what is so exciting about working with Coach Queener—being able to turn these goals into realities."
Speaking about the event, Coach Queener described a rigorous, fun-filled day. Harlem Lacrosse LA athletes had to wake at 5:30 A.M. in order to leave their school in South LA by 6:15 A.M. Then, after arriving to Memorial Stadium at 7 A.M., the six girls began warming up and introducing themselves to the women's lacrosse team.
After introductions, practice continued on as usual, with the talented lacrosse team helping the youngsters with ladders, checking, ground balls, dodging and finding the fun in finesse.
Carly McAllister, senior defender and psychology major, described the experience as both enriching and invigorating. "It was so great to be able to see the energy and interest of the youth in our sport, and to be able to help work on their skills with them. All of which reminded me of how much I love the sport."
"It's inspiring to see the game growing, and to see the great work that Harlem Lacrosse in LA is doing," Lexie Meanor, junior business/math major, and points leader said.
Once practice ended, students were allowed to accompany some of the lacrosse players to their morning classes.
"A major component of the student-athlete, especially at Whittier College, is not only training hard to perform on the field," Coach Queener said. "Student-athletes also attend classes, like all students, and are studying to become doctors and biologists and engineers. It was really great to be able to highlight all their dedication and hard work while also showing the younger generation of lacrosse players what is possible with resilience and dedication."
"A nice added bonus," Coach Queener noted, "was that we all took about 20,000+ steps in five hours!"
The Harlem players not only slept the entire way home, but most have asked, "When can we go back to Whittier?" It was an experience they will never forget.
For more information about Harlem Lacrosse LA visit http://www.harlemlacrosse.org/los-angeles, follow them on instagram @harlemlacrosse_la, and follow us on instagram @whittierlacrosse for more stories featuring our student-athletes.