lacrosse

‘I Just Love Lacrosse': Boys Lacrosse Has Arrived in Miami's Liberty City

Now, a sport long considered by some to be exclusive is opening new doors for a new generation of lacrosse players.

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There’s a new sport gaining popularity among children in Miami’s Liberty City. 

“This is a fun game,” said Liberty City lacrosse player, Winston Gibson. “Maybe you should come out here and try it!”

“I love to play my position!” another player, Jayzion De La Rosa, said.

Many players and parents admit they weren’t very familiar with the sport of lacrosse until it came into their lives a few months ago. 

“This is our first year, my son’s first year, and we didn’t know much,” said Jessi De La Cruz. “It just ended up happening for us here in Liberty City!”

For the first time ever, there’s a boys lacrosse team in Liberty City. 

The team is called the TACOLCY Red Raiders. 

“Well, it’s not that common, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about it,” said head coach Charles Gibson. “... Some of the elite private schools in Miami, they all have lacrosse teams. But that hasn’t trickled down to the public school system.”

Gibson says he coaches some of the same kids in football, and he wanted to bring in a new sport for them to pick up in the spring. 

“There was a gap in terms of where kids could go after the football season,” said Gibson. “Lacrosse was a perfect fit.”

He says most of his players picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time in January. 

Believe it or not, Gibson said the 10 and under team he coaches was 7-1-1 as of Monday, April 11. 

He says the 8 and under team has won about half of their games. 

“For us to compete against kids who’ve had private lessons, training, I think it’s a phenomenal season,” said Gibson. 

“Since the first day, they’re playing awesome,” said parent, Matias Jaramillo. 

“They’re just playing great as a team, and every week they’re just playing better, and better, and better,” said parent, Mike Appleton.

Gibson says the game is bigger than wins and losses for the children who come out to play lacrosse. 

“For some of these kids, we are the male role model for them,” he said.

He says starting the team wasn’t easy. 

“Financially, I mean, it’s not an easy ask,” said Gibson. 

When factoring in equipment, traveling, and personal training, the costs of being a lacrosse parent can range from hundreds to thousands. 

Thankfully, Liberty City’s youth sports organization, Belafonte TACOLCY, loved Gibson’s idea. 

With the help of private donors, and the City of Miami lending the use of Athalie Range Park on 62nd Street in Miami, the team was born. 

“There’s a lot of gaps in communities of color,” said Belafonte TACOLCY CEO, Shownda Pagan. “... We want to take our children to universities outside of Florida.”

“We thought with lacrosse, we have an opportunity here,” said Belafonte TACOLCY Athletic Director, Cedric Hooper. “It offers to the inner city another opportunity, another avenue, another outlet.”

Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez, praised the team in a statement to NBC 6. 

“It makes me so happy to see this sort of community-led investment bringing a historically non-inclusive sport closer to the residents of Miami,” said Suarez. “As the healthiest city in the nation, Miami prides itself on giving our kids every opportunity to get outside and go play.”

Now, a sport long considered by some to be exclusive is opening new doors for a new generation of lacrosse players.

“Basically, I just love lacrosse,” said Liberty City lacrosse player, Elias Raphael. “It makes me feel like I’m the MVP of the game.”

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