Harlem Lacrosse, 3d Lacrosse Reaching New Heights in Year Six of Partnership as Girls Participation Booms, Boys Recruiting Accelerates
HARLEM, N.Y. — Representing six years of teamwork across the country, the partnership between Harlem Lacrosse and 3d Lacrosse is not only making a major impact on the lives of boys lacrosse players, but on that of girls lacrosse players as well.
By way of a relationship started in 2014, Harlem Lacrosse club teams and student-athletes experienced another summer highlighted by world-class training opportunities at 3d Lacrosse-operated camps and showcases and exposure to hundreds of men’s and women’s college coaches at all levels of play at 3d Lacrosse events.
It’s become customary for Harlem boys teams to compete—and even draw recruiters’ attention—at 3d Lacrosse events. But this summer marked the first time Harlem Lacrosse girls took the field as an official Harlem girls team at a national tournament when the 2021 squad competed at 3d’s Summer Draw held at Cedar Lane Regional Park in Maryland from July 17 to 19.
“Summer Draw was an incredible experience for us,” said Jenny Moe, Harlem’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director who oversees Harlem Lacrosse - Baltimore.
“There’s something special about stepping onto a field together, as all girls of color, where they can walk onto the turf and compete as their own program, as one team. There’s something very powerful about that. That was a fun day for us.”
Harlem’s first on-field experience as an official girls club team coincides with another milestone for the program: 2019 is the first year that the total number of girl participants (485) exceeds the number of boy participants (455).
Moe believes the feeling of competing together gave the girls a major confidence boost and a sense of identity and purpose.
“It was pretty powerful for the girls to see that we can go to an event as Harlem Lacrosse and they can represent this program and compete at a national level,” Moe said.
“It was fun and motivating for them to see that they’re really doing this. It’s not just an after-school activity, but if you put in the work, Harlem Lacrosse can open up opportunities to college and beyond. A lot of lightbulbs switched on in the heads of our girls and more of them began thinking about how they could leverage what the programming is offering to do so much more.”
Earlier in the summer, four girls from Harlem Lacrosse – New York and four from Harlem Lacrosse – Baltimore, all from the 2020 class, attended the STX Rising Girls Showcase in Boyds, Md., where they received training in the 3d Methodology led by college coaches and 3d Master Coaches before competing in games in front of college recruiters.
“Those eight girls who attended that, they represent our entire recruiting class, so that’s an opportunity that was afforded to every rising senior,” Moe said.
“We’re really trying to provide access to play college lacrosse and to go to college and so that opportunity was important for them. One thing we really took away from the girls’ feedback was that they got to meet college coaches and be coached by them and that was valuable.”
On the boys side, 2019 saw Harlem teams or student-athletes in attendance at nearly every summer engagement on the 3d event and camp lineup.
A tradition each June, Harlem Lacrosse sent student-athletes to the Pomfret Bash hosted by Boston-based 3d New England. 3d Lacrosse’s largest program, 3d New England holds an intense three-day training camp that culminates with a one-day team event serving as a summer kickoff for the participating teams. There, members of Harlem Lacrosse began their summer alongside teams they’ve been competing with and coaches they’ve been learning from for several years.
In late June, members of Harlem Lacrosse traveled to 3d’s National Team Camp at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where they experienced three days of training in the 3d Methodology, game film analysis led by Division I college coaches, nutrition seminars, recruiting discussions, motivational instruction from Keith Wilford and more.
Fast-forward to mid-July at the FLG in 3d Summer Shootout in Boyds, where Harlem not only fielded two teams but had representation in the prestigious All-Star Games as well. An annual stop for Harlem squads that draws upward of 160 college recruiters each year, the FLG in 3d Summer Shootout has become instrumental to the recruiting efforts of Harlem student-athletes.
“The FLG in 3d event has really been our big test of the summer,” said Owen Van Arsdale, a longtime Senior Program Director for Harlem Lacrosse in New York City.
“That’s when we get to play top competition, and everyone is playing their best and where they are getting their looks from. It’s really been a part of how our guys have come to identify themselves as Harlem Lacrosse players. And it’s helped them feel embedded in the summer lacrosse circuit.”
Van Arsdale said the acceleration of Harlem players receiving interest from recruiters and the high percentage of alumni moving on to play the game in college has created momentum for Harlem. He pointed out that the most recent graduating class of Harlem boys student-athletes are all attending college and that every single senior who participated in club programming last summer will suit up for a college lacrosse program this fall.
“The college recruiting piece is huge for us,” said Van Arsdale, who played Division I college lacrosse at the University of Virginia.
“The story used to be that one Harlem kid was going to college and now almost every kid who participates in club programming is moving on to play college lacrosse. Now we have juniors who coaches are reaching out to on September 1. We have kids getting recruited earlier than they’ve ever been recruited. Our clubs have just become that much more visible and our kids keep improving.”
Harlem’s Chief Program Officer Joel Censer says it’s all “coming to fruition” and considers the club lacrosse platform an essential vehicle that has accelerated the development of Harlem Lacrosse student-athletes. He believes the club squads and training with 3d Lacrosse has raised the collective talent of the pool of players, but additionally helped expose players to nationally recognized competition in recruiting scenarios that will pay dividends as younger ones begin their recruitment process.
“Our players are getting to compete at a higher level sooner, and they’re performing at a higher level on the field sooner with our teams going to 3d Lacrosse tournaments,” Censer said.
A consistent experience within a learning-friendly environment, Van Arsdale and Censer concur, has been part of the recipe for success between 3d and Harlem, who as part of another annual tradition will bring their players together via the Connecticut-based 3d Tri-State region for joint training this fall.
“I think before this, we had kids who loved lacrosse and were becoming competent lacrosse players but weren’t consistently exposed to high-level lacrosse or high-level competition,” Van Arsdale said.
“Now our players are playing high level lacrosse with strong competition, traveling around and playing in showcases and getting coached by high level coaches, especially some of the 3d coaches and teams. I think it’s the continuation of a good routine and the kids getting comfortable and understanding how to navigate the process.
“Academics still has to be there, and that’s what Harlem is providing 24-7. But it's gotten to where many of the kids on our club team are not only improving academically, but they are leveraging lacrosse to create opportunities to gain college admission.”
While the relationship between 3d Lacrosse and Harlem Lacrosse continues to evolve, at the core of it is what has helped differentiate 3d from the company’s inception ten years ago: small-sided training, specifically the proprietary 3d Methodology.
“3d is a company that has built its success on repetition, efficiency and getting better in tight spaces,” Censer said.
“We often have to operate in tight spaces and be efficient, and get the students playing at a high level quickly. 3d markets these concepts and they’re good at them—developing skill, getting kids better and using the environment to create the next wave of players. We feel like that teaching is crucial.”
The platform for lacrosse education and exposure, invaluable to the progress of the Harlem Lacrosse boys program, will be the same avenue for driving results on the girls side, Censer says.
“The next frontier for us is creating the same experience for girls, and not just in New York, but in Baltimore, Philly, Boston and LA, and 3d Lacrosse is going to help us give our teams and players a special experience,” Censer said.
“We are trying to actively create pathways to college through lacrosse for girls, and we are excited to partner with 3d to find those pathways and refine them as we move forward.”
3d Lacrosse Directors, Managers and coaches across the country are in position and committed to help Harlem expand and achieve its mission as it grows. 3d Lacrosse staff members continue to look for opportunities to assist Harlem staff and student-athletes along the way, from coaches out in various parts of the company to leaders at corporate headquarters in Denver.
“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have an inside view of Harlem Lacrosse’s evolution from a small group working in New York City schools to a nationwide team that is making an impact on the lives of youth and high school student-athletes in numerous major cities,” said 3d Lacrosse CEO Greg Waldbaum.
“Harlem’s success in using lacrosse as a vehicle is an honor to the sport and a testament to the hard work, dedication and care that Mike Levin and his growing staff have put in over the years.”
For more information and history on Harlem Lacrosse, including the upcoming Harlem Lacrosse Annual Benefit scheduled for Sept. 26 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City, visit harlemlacrosse.org.
To learn more about 3d Lacrosse and its lineup of national and regional events, camps, showcases and select club teams, visit 3dLacrosse.com.
About 3d Lacrosse
3d Lacrosse is the nation’s fastest-growing lacrosse services company, offering innovative training, premier events, select travel teams, showcases and leagues for boys and girls ages six through 18 at all levels of organized competition. Founded in 2009, the Company trains more than 35,000 athletes annually using its proprietary Box-Field Hybrid™ Development System that combines the tight stick-handling and ball control of box lacrosse with the team-based field strategies used in Division I college programs. In addition to lacrosse-specific training, professional coaches help players develop lifelong skills, including dedication, teamwork and critical thinking under pressure. Based in Denver, 3d Lacrosse also has offices in Annapolis, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Hartford, Houston, New York, Portland, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa and Westfield, N.J. Learn more at 3dLacrosse.com.
3d Lacrosse on Twitter: Twitter.com/3dlacrosse
3d Events on Twitter: Twitter.com/Events_3d
About Harlem Lacrosse
Based on the impact of its unique model, which places full-time staff members within partner schools in low-income communities, Harlem Lacrosse has grown from a single program in 2011 to 30 programs at 17 sites in 2019. Harlem Lacrosse now serves more than 1000 students in five cities nationwide: New York, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
Harlem Lacrosse’s mission is to empower the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise about their challenges and reach their full potential. Harlem Lacrosse inspires children to dream about tomorrow while working hard on the field and in the classroom today.
Harlem Lacrosse provides study halls, mentoring, push-in academic support, experiential and service-learning and character-building athletic instruction. A recent New York Times article said Harlem Lacrosse is “Changing the Face of Lacrosse.”
Nearly 150 Harlem Lacrosse alumni have reached high school graduation age. Compared with students from similar backgrounds, Harlem Lacrosse participants are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in post-secondary education, and persist through college.