On a small patch of grass on the Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools campus, a group of six boys and girls combined from View Park laughed as they tried to knock the ball off each other’s sticks at a practice Thursday.
They shot into a small net, because the only full-size one, on loan from a now-graduating player from Pacific Palisades, was broken. The clubs in his hands were either leftovers from an old camp run by the nonprofit youth organization Harlem Lacrosse or purchased through aggressive maneuvering on Facebook Marketplace by coach Elizabeth Waterman.
“The funding aspect,” said first-year coach Waterman, “has been difficult.”
It’s a microcosm of the promise and obstacles facing high school lacrosse programs in Los Angeles. Individual sticks can cost as much as $150, gloves $200, helmets as much as $300—an “expensive start-up,” as Borrell put it.
The City Section, which covers more teams from underfunded areas, has only 12 schools that field a lacrosse team. Class disparity has been matched by racial disparity at the college level. Despite modest improvement over the past decade, 83% of women’s and men’s lacrosse teams in 2022 they were white.
“If you go around saying you play lacrosse, people say, ‘Oh, that’s white bullshit,’” said Ayomide Aborisade, a member of View Park’s women’s lacrosse team.
Youth programs like Harlem Lacrosse, which has taken root at Compton High, are key to the growth of the game in low-income communities, the coaches said. View Park has lost every game on its schedule this season, not fielding enough students to play. But more will come after the school’s rugby season ends, Waterman hopes, and the sport’s effect on a merry bunch on Thursday was clear.
“I think it’s a pretty unique sport,” Aborisade said. “We also want to make it more popular, not just for white kids, but for black kids.”