Garan Santicola, a freelance writer for The Christophers, recently penned an article for the website narrative.ly about how lacrosse programs in Albany, New York, are attracting a roster of tweens and teens from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Among them are Native American brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson (appropriate since lacrosse is originally a Native American sport) and Mike Banks, “one of the relatively small number of African Americans to ever play Division I college lacrosse.”
For Banks (pictured above), lacrosse wasn’t just an enjoyable pursuit, but a life-saving one. Santicola writes:
Banks knows what it takes to play at an elite level, and he also knows what it’s like to come from an underprivileged background and compete for a scholarship to a top college. His journey from a life of crime on the streets of South Norwalk, Connecticut, an urban neighborhood that sits amid one of the wealthiest regions of the country, to standout Division I defenseman was chronicled by Damian Andrew in Inside Lacrosse Magazine.
Andrew’s story describes how, when Banks was fifteen years old, he got arrested for burglary and did a four-and-a-half-month stint in a high-security prison for juvenile offenders. When he got out, he was placed on probation for five years. And it was in that period, as a sixteen-year-old struggling to get his life on track, that he was introduced to the sport of lacrosse.Today, Banks credits the game with saving his life, and he doesn’t hesitate to incorporate that narrative into his promotion of lacrosse in Albany. “I would be lying if I tell you that every kid that I deal with, just because they live in the inner city, is in poverty, or they’re African American, or they are routinely struggling. That is not accurate and that’s not all the kids we get,” Banks says. “But is there that one or two or three kids that are going through the predicament that I went through? Yes. Is there a unique way that I approach dealing with them? Yes. I’m able to help them see that I’ve gone through it…They’re always surrounded by teachers or counselors or people in their community telling them how to live, how to walk, how to talk, how to dress…but when I give it to them in the language they understand and the language they speak, they’re more receptive to realizing the change.”
Read the whole story here.
(Photo property narrative.ly and Garan Santicola.)
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