High school lacrosse LA is starting to have a moment. Here’s why

Watch Park lacrosse players Ayomide Aborisade, left, and Eve Hart have fun on the practice field.

(Luca Evans/Los Angeles Times)

On a small patch of land on the Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools’ home campus, a group of six boys and girls from View Park laughed as they tried to knock the ball off each other’s sticks during practice Thursday.

They shot at a small net because the only full-size one — loaned to him by a now-graduated Pacific Palisades player — was broken. The sticks they had were either dropped off by an old non-profit Harlem Youth Lacrosse camp or bought by coach Elizabeth Waterman through aggressive Facebook Marketplace maneuvers.

“The funding aspect,” first-year coach Waterman said, “has been difficult.”

It’s a microcosm of the promise and obstacles facing high school lacrosse programs in Los Angeles. Individual sticks can cost $150, gloves $200, helmets up to $300 — “expensive to start with,” as Borrell put it.

The City Section, which hosts more teams from underfunded areas, has just 12 schools that field a lacrosse team. Class inequality corresponds to racial inequality at the college level. Despite a modest improvement over the past decade, 83% of the women’s and men’s lacrosse teams in 2022 were white.

“If you go around saying you play lacrosse, people say, ‘Oh, that’s that white…'” said Ayomide Aborisade, a member of View Park’s girls lacrosse team.

Youth programs like Harlem Lacrosse, which has made roots at Compton High, are critical to the game’s growth in lower-income communities, coaches said. View Park has lost all of its scheduled games this season and does not have enough students to play. But more will come after the school’s rugby season ends, Waterman hopes, and the impact of the sport was clear Thursday.

“I think it’s a pretty unique sport,” Aborisade said. “We also want to make it known, not just for white kids, for black kids.”

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