Sports can bring people together from all different walks of life — they have a unique way of connecting those who might never have met otherwise.
Not all sports are easily accessible for everyone, however, and two former Providence Day athletes decided to do something about it. Their desire as Upper Schoolers sparked an enduring initiative that has made positive impacts in the Charlotte area.
It was during the junior year of Kyle Asher ’15 and freshman year of Reed Baker ’17 that they, along with the support of their varsity lacrosse teammates, began collecting sports equipment to distribute to in-need kids within the community.
“I think everyone who wants to play lacrosse should have access to the sport,” said Reed, now a freshman studying economics at Bowdoin College in Maine, who credits the sport with helping to further his academic career.
“I am aware of the opportunities lacrosse can provide, and I don’t believe income levels should limit kids from accessing these opportunities,” he said.
One of their coaches, Ken Loeber, had worked with Greater Enrichment Program (GEP), which serves at-risk elementary-aged children by providing quality afterschool enrichment involving academic, cultural and social instruction. The goal is to help children gain knowledge, confidence and character to achieve their personal bests in school and in their communities.
Loeber thought GEP would be an ideal organization with whom the student-athletes could partner. With a solid flow of equipment coming in and a community partner in hand, Baker and Asher officially started the Upper School club known as Everybody Loves Lacrosse in 2013.
The club has continued to thrive. Today, 8 to 10 members spend time twice a week with GEP students, many of whom come from neighborhoods where lacrosse isn’t prevalent. They impart not only the fundamentals of lacrosse, but the importance of teamwork, physical fitness and giving back.
The initiative showed PDS Head Coach Bobby Thompson that his players were living the team’s motto of “commitment, class, character.”
“It is great to see Providence Day’s mission of social responsibility coming to life through our players,” he said. “What our guys have been doing ever since the program was started has really shown their desire to not only give back to the community, but help grow the game as a whole.”
“They truly care about the work they are doing, and it shows in the relationships they have with the kids they support,” he added.
The Providence Day students have been the “best role models for our kids,” said Bronica Glover, GEP executive director.
“They’re friendly, very mature and they want to give back,” she said. “It gives the students hope and it makes the students feel good. It builds their confidence, because someone is taking the time to teach them something.”
Interacting with the students is the highlight. “The kids are always smiling and laughing,” said Baker. “It’s been incredible.”
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