YQCA Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree Again is a Hit

PHILADELPHIA -As part of its Young Quakers Community Athletics (YQCA) sponsorship, the University of Pennsylvania lacrosse programs hosted the third annual Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree on June 4-5. The event featured the YQCA’s West Philadelphia teams -- which have been paired with the Penn programs for the last few years -- and teams from New York City’s Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership as well as Boston’s Metro Lacrosse.

The two-day event featured a lacrosse clinic that was led by players from both Penn lacrosse programs; boys’ and girls’ scrimmages in Penn Park and Franklin Field; and team-bonding activities such as scavenger hunts around Penn’s campus, dance contests, and flag football under the lights at Franklin Field. A particular highlight was guest speaker Tina Sloan Green, the former women’s lacrosse coach at Temple -- where she led the Owls to NCAA titles in 1984 and 1988 -- who is co-founder and President of the Black Women in Sport Foundation.

Several Penn players and coaches from both lacrosse programs were involved. The men’s team was represented by head coach Mike Murphy and assistant coach Mike Bartomioli as well as players John Aversa, Reed Junkin, Connor Keating, Joe Licciardi, Kevin McGeary, Mike Mulqueen, Chris Santangelo, Kyle Scheetz, Jack Ullrich, Jared Warner. The group representing the women’s team included head coach Karin Brower Corbett and assistant coach Liz Kittleman Jackson as well as players Caroline Cummings, Katy Junior, Brooke Kiley, Mo Leitner and her sister Emily Leitner (a Penn alum), and Iris Williamson. Zach O'Leary, a member of the football team, also represented Penn Athletics during the weekend.

“As always, we had a great weekend at our Urban Lacrosse Jamboree,” said Coach Murphy.“First, to watch our Young Quakers, who we work with each week throughout the school year, compete on the fieldwith teams from Harlem and Boston and befriend their peersoff the field isvery rewarding. Second, to be able to give back to our sport and host our friends from out of townin a way that is consistent with President Gutmann's Compact is highly gratifying as well. I think the middle-school kids benefit immensely from the exposure to each other and toour institution. And I feel our Penn players benefit from the interaction and the role of host and mentor as well. Thanksto our friends at the Netter Centeras well as our alumnus and Young Quakers co-founder, Chuck Leitner, for spending his weekend with us to help make it a success."

“It was such a great day for the young girls, because they were able to meet more beginners from different areas who are also learning the wonderful game of lacrosse,” said Coach Corbett. “Our players did an amazing job mentoring the girls and teaching the game that they so love. Liz and Jen did a tremendous job organizing the day to be both fun and educational. It was a great beginning, and hopefully something to build on in the future.”

Each of the last three springs, the Urban Youth Lacrosse Jamboree has brought together young lacrosse players from West Philadelphia and other urban communities to the University of Pennsylvania for a weekend of competition, team-building, enrichment, and fun. Players enhance their lacrosse skills while learning sportsmanship and teamwork. The college setting helps players envision themselves as college students and lets them work directly with collegiate coaches and athletes. The result is brighter futures, on and off the field.

The Jamboree is organized by YQCA, a partnership between the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania. It brings together Penn student-athletes and students from West Philadelphia public schools for an experience that indelibly shaped them both. Students learn a new sport, engage in academically enriching activities, and develop life skills such as time management and leadership. Penn student-athletes, meanwhile, hone their skills in coaching and mentoring while giving back to their local community.

“The Jamboree is a terrific opportunity for kids and coaches to combine lacrosse and non-lacrosse activities to connect in a very meaningful way,” said Owen Van Arsdale from Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership. “Kids from all three programs related well to one another and were able to learn from the Penn coaches and players throughout both days. The Harlem, Metro, and YQ players all shared their positive experience at the Jamboree in the form of shout-outs, and it was clear that they all had gained something from the weekend.”

“It was great having the opportunity to send our Boston and Chelsea boys to Penn for the second year in a row,” said Pat Cronin from Metro Lacrosse. “Half of the boys attended the Jamboree last year, and the progress they have made since then is remarkable. Everyone played hard and got just as much out of the off-field activities as they did through the lacrosse sessions. We are already looking forward to next year and another opportunity to connect with Harlem and the Young Quakers!”