Wednesday, June 2, 2010

City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story

“The growth of the game and urban programs are about serving neighborhoods that did not previously know the game...that is what City Lax is about.”

Good Morning

Just the other night I was able to sit with Jake and Ian and watch a brilliant documentary entitled “City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story” … on the surface it was a look at inner-city lacrosse, however it was so much more including an intensely personal narrative that exhibits the hardships of growing up in the inner-city of Denver and what it means to be a member of a disadvantaged family in today’s society.

When the boys and I first started watching this piece we were immediately introduced to Mr. Erik Myhren’s and his dilapidated passenger van. He is the main character and in the first several minutes all you see is his shuttling future “lax” players around Northeast Denver; the preverbal “soccer Mom” … you quickly surmise that he is a very special person.

Erik Myhren’s life is a story in resilience itself. After a bout with an undiagnosed illness that almost took his life, Erik, a longtime teacher goes on to dedicate a large portion of his time away from the classroom to providing less fortunate students with experiences that they would not have otherwise had the chance to enjoy.

Now the operative question most will ask is…Why would he do it? Without giving away the whole picture...suffice to say...its a very rewarding pursuit!

He tells of how on one such occasion, he introduced a handful of his 5th graders to some lacrosse sticks, and that these primarily minority students took to the sport much quicker than even he could have imagined.

From line drills in the schoolyard to the team’s first game against a local American Indian youth program, the viewer is given a visually stunning portrayal of the development of a number of these individuals with lacrosse employed as the catalyst in assisting them in breaking from the cycle of drugs, gangs, violence and ultimately, imprisonment or premature death.

In order to show what Erik and his assistant coaches are up against, the film perfectly illustrates the multitude of traumas that many of these 11 and 12 year olds have had to overcome, most notably failings in the classroom, the incarceration of parents and the death of immediate family members.

When viewed as the sum of all its parts its amazing to see what this sport can do in helping kids realize hidden talents and this documentary (and the sport) gives them a platform to perform while attempting to rescue them from the uncertain future that many kids in the inner-city face .

City Lax is truly nothing short of inspiring and captures the essence of not only a great sport…but the efforts of select few who have a made a difference for kids who might not ever have been given a chance.

When it comes back on a station near you take the time and watch it…and not just for the lacrosse...and thanks for the picture (above) Jake!


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