Teams from around Chester County and from as far away as Harlem N.Y. at initial event
By Lauren Parker- Gill, News Editor, The Times
CALN – The Coatesville Youth Lacrosse hosted its first Red Raider Rumble Sunday, with 19 teams from Coatesville, Avon Grove, Collegeville, Lionville, Conastoga, West Chester, Unionville, Delaware, New Jersey and Harlem, New York in attendance.
Coatesville Youth Lacrosse (CYL) is a new organization for boys and girls ages 5 – 15 and is run by a team of volunteers. The goal of the league is to introduce children of any skill level to lacrosse, teach them about the game and help them develop or improve their skills for each level they play.
Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership (HLL) is a non-profit organization that was started in 2011. It is designed to provide academic and behavioral help for at-risk students in Harlem, New York. They provide year-round tutoring, academic guidance and behavioral intervention.
In addition, students attend three lacrosse practices each week in the fall and spring seasons. The program emphasizes teamwork and works to build the students’ confidence. HLL also schedules clinics, tournaments and games, which the students must earn.
“These trips/events, which HLLers earn, truly motivate our kids to perform in the classroom, set the right example, and generally work hard both on and off the field. It is a great way to bridge communities, cultivate new relationships, and play some great lacrosse!” Spencer Riehl, program director of HLL said in an email.
The HLL brought 26 players to Coatesville Saturday, where they met the Coatesville team and had a pasta dinner served by the Coatesville High School football team. After, there were games and activities to help everyone get to know each other. Coatesville families then hosted up to two members from HLL in their homes for the evening. Sunday, they played in games from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m at North Brandywine Middle School.
“The raider rumble was very well run, everyone had a great time,” said Missy Holm, a parent of CYL. “Our boys were so welcoming and it spoke volumes about the character of the Coatesville kids.”
Riehl said their experience with CYL was fantastic. “When a community like Coatesville puts in the time and energy to organize home stays, provide meals and host our guys for a fun and competitive lacrosse tournament, we are nothing but appreciative and in awe at the support and drive people have for growing the game of lacrosse.” Riehl said.
CYL president Rob Tompkins said the day was a huge success, thanks to volunteers, community businesses that helped with donations for the event and league parents Jill Kiley and Tina Blakely.
“The success of the tournament is directly related to Jill Kiley’s dedicated leadership and hard work as the tournament chairperson. The HLL team trip’s success is directly related to Tina Blakely hard work in soliciting parents and business to help support HLL trip to Coatesville.” Tompkins said. “This past weekend would not have been successful without Jill and Tina’s efforts.”
Toward the end of the day, HLL team members gathered by their bus to head back to New York. They were each given bag lunches and snacks for their ride home, which were packed by Pope John Paul student athletes. Many of the lacrosse players were quickly exchanging contact information with their host families so they can stay in touch. As the Coatesville players said their goodbyes to the HLL players, it was clear that new friendships had been formed.
“Our boys formed new relationships with this team from Harlem, and Harlem with Coatesville. As a parent, to see the boys come together like this, it was heartwarming…our lacrosse community may not be as big as others, but we are mighty and we are a family.” CYL parent Stacy Geyer said of their experience Sunday.
Riehl says HLL is very thankful to the CYL community for providing the opportunity to take part in Sunday’s tournament and hopes to find new ways to collaborate in the future and to continue to build the relationship with HLL and CYL.