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Archive for June 18, 2016

June 18, 2016 — The “medicine game” drops a beat

There they were, a team of teenage performers in jogging suits, dancing near the touch line in front of the press box at Sweeney Field on the campus of St. Joseph’s University.

The halftime music provided a different atmosphere, gave a different sense of place. This wasn’t your ordinary lacrosse venue, not your ordinary host site for the inaugural season of United Women’s Lacrosse (UWLX).

This is West Philadelphia, the cultural hub of the fifth-largest city in America. And it’s providing the scenario for a much-needed shot of energy for both lacrosse and field hockey in the United States. A couple of miles east from Sweeney Field is the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, and the high school that bears the same name.

This past school year, field hockey and lacrosse have been introduced to students in the school by Jazmine Smith, who was exposed to the games while attending Radnor (Pa.). She is pouring her heart and soul into providing opportunity to the youngsters who are playing both sports at the school, and the effort has garnered the attention and support of Digit Murphy, the commissioner of UWLX.

Murphy was there today, helping Smith to shepherd neighborhood kids playing with the Eyekonz club programs to a ceremony, during which the lacrosse players received new sticks, eyewear, and new uniforms emblazoned with a knight on the front.

The games of field hockey and women’s lacrosse, since they were started at private girls’ schools and women’s colleges first, have not had a great history of diversity. But the experience of Terri Swamp at Fort Covington Salmon River Central (N.Y.) shows that any group of focused individuals can be molded into an effective team with the right support.

And with UWLX backing Eyekonz, it would not surprise me in the least if Strawberry Mansion is in the conversation for PIAA District 12 honors soon.