News / USA

Lacrosse Debuts in Inner-City Washington School

Some of the girls on the lacrosse team at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., run a drill on the practice field, May 2011
Some of the girls on the lacrosse team at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., run a drill on the practice field, May 2011

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

The modern version of the Native American game lacrosse is a popular sport at many predominately white and affluent, suburban private schools in the United States. But it also has taken root at a predominantly African American, public high school in Washington, plagued by poverty, violence and low academic achievement. Girls are now playing lacrosse at Ballou High School, where educators and students there hope to gain from it.

It is the last practice of the season for the girl's lacrosse team at Ballou, and the competitive spirit is still running high. This is the first year Ballou has had a lacrosse team, and the first time these girls have played the sport. They lost every game, but their coach, Holly McGarvie, still considers the season a success.

“I think the goal each year is going to change," she said. "This year, I think, just starting and building a foundation that we can build from and create a tradition of women’s lacrosse here at Ballou.”

Building a foundation in one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in Washington is not easy.  Eighty-five percent of Ballou students participate in the national free and reduced school lunch program, an indicator of poverty. In the past six years, more than 40 Ballou students have died violent deaths, many of them victims of drug violence.

Rahman Branch, the schools' principal, said, “One of the components is the drug culture kind of came into our cities. It really shattered a lot of poor communities and a lot of families. And our children come from those broken homes. Our children come from those splintered communities.”

Ballou’s low point came in 2006, when less than 60 percent of the senior class graduated. School administrators decided they needed to make changes. Foremost was creating an environment where students could leave their street-hardened survival skills at the school door.  

Another - expanding after school activities like girl's lacrosse.

“We decided to take some more approaches to add on to them being comfortable being a kid, to now making sure they are a kid who knows what they want, what it takes to get there, and then has the stamina to go through,” said Branch.

Branch said Holly McGarvie, a first-year teacher out of Princeton University, was a perfect match for Ballou. A star collegiate player and member of the U.S. National Lacrosse Team, she wanted to integrate lessons she learned from sports into teaching biology.

“In coaching, it is always great when you have an athlete, you know, understand a concept or make a great play with a teammate," said McGarvie. "And, I thought, you know, maybe in teaching you could do the same thing.”

McGarvie's lessons in the classroom and on the field are not lost on the girls. The first practices were frustrating, with angry exchanges among some players. McGarvie quickly let them know that would not be tolerated, and coached them on how to work through problems.

“On our way home from our first game, we are all talking about it and the girls are extremely excited," said McGarvie. "Despite the loss of, I think maybe 11 to 1, they were already in the mindset of what can we do better.”

Sophomore Tylashia Joyner said lacrosse has kept her away from negative things, and more focused on her future. “I will want to play in college because it will keep me in shape and it will help me stay focused and want to do something. Because if you want to play a sport, you have to have your grades up.”

If you are counting wins, it was a tough season for Ballou. But you wouldn’t know that from the look on the girls’ faces. Diane Jones said she will definitely play again next year.

"We had good times even though we lost all our games," said Jones. "We played good for it to be our first season of play.”

Ballou has already improved its graduation rate by 10 to 15 percent since 2006. Administrators expect that to continue to improve, and for lacrosse to be a part of it.


You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid