Syracuse lacrosse organization to host free camp for underrepresented children

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse may be considered a hotbed for lacrosse because of the University’s history, but in reality, only about two percent of children in the Syracuse City School District play lacrosse. 

“As you talk to kids and their parents, there is just a large majority, because of the makeup of the city schools, that don’t even know what lacrosse is,” Walt Eccles, President of Valley Lacrosse, said.

Lacrosse is one of the most expensive sports to play and because of this, many kids can not access the equipment and proper training needed to play the sport.

To help get kids introduced to the sport at a low cost, US Lacrosse recently awarded over 850 grants worth almost $2.4 million to help grow the game of lacrosse across the country.

Northeast Regional Manager for US Lacrosse Sarah Forrest said, “The TryLax Grant actually takes away the barriers of entry to the game, and makes it a really great first experience for kids to try the sport.”

The TryLax Grant Clinic gives kids a 90-minute lacrosse clinic hosted by US Lacrosse certified coaches, their own lacrosse stick and a one-year membership to US Lacrosse. 

“We kind of feel like we need to bring the game to the kids,” Eccles said. “There’s a lot of issues with transportation and just organization. So, the Sankofa Clinic, we are going to try and get 50 boys and 50 girls signed up, and they will each get a free stick, and they would each get real high level instruction from US Lacrosse clinicians.”

One of the Sankofa Clinic Grants was recently awarded to Valley Lacrosse located here in Central New York. The Sankofa Clinics are targeted at boys and girls in underrepresented communities. 

“If you’re not from a lacrosse family, and no one is saying to you, ‘Hey, you should play lacrosse because you don’t have to be six-foot-two and weigh 200 pounds to be a successful lacrosse player,’” Eccles said. “So, to get them exposed at a level where the parents don’t have to make any kind of monetary outlay, and get a stick in their hands, and then they take the stick home, and they start bugging their parents saying ‘Hey this is something I want to try.’”

Eccles continued to say, “This clinic, we were really excited about it, that we were going to be able to reach out to this many kids, and then those kids are reaching out to their friends.”

The Sankofa Clinic is a great way for someone to get introduced to the sport, as it isn’t solely focused on getting kids better at the sport.

“The clinic itself is focused on fun,” Forrest said. “So, 100 kids get to experience a really great and perfect introduction to the sport. It’s fun, it’s not focused on coaching, it’s focused on letting the kids try it, have a great time.”

And it’s a great way to grow the game.

“That’s really kind of the goal of this Sankofa Clinic,” Eccles said. “We start bringing in kids that normally are not lacrosse fans or they don’t have a lacrosse background, and those are the kids we need to reach.”

A date has not been set for the Sankofa Clinic with Valley Lacrosse, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but more information can be found at

Other grants awarded to lacrosse organizations in Central New York include:

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