For eight years, Charm City Lacrosse has taught city kids how to play the game, at no cost to them. And this year, their U-11 team accomplished what no other Charm City Lacrosse team has done before: they won a championship game.
"To win a championship is rare and to be the first team to do in Charm City Lacrosse is a really special thing," said Pace Kessenich, the U-11 coach and chairman of the program. "It's something I will not forget."
And it's something the boys on the championship team won't forget either.
"It was awesome, we dumped a whole water jug on Coach Pace," said Brooklyn Jones.
"This is Charm City's first team to win the championship so I was excited to make history," said Alex Clements.
Charm City Lacrosse is a free program for city children ages five to 14. They play in clinics and stand-out players are chosen to play on all-star teams during summer tournaments.
Kessenich said he knew he had a special team this year and that a championship win was within their reach. But it wouldn't be easy. Kessenich said during the Lax Max tournament, he could see fatigue setting in. One day had two games, with hours of dead time in between. So Kessenich taught them about being resilient.
"When I introduced the word, there was 45 seconds of complete silence cause no one knew what the word resiliency meant," he said. "Then a father told them what it meant and I told them they needed to dig down and show a little resiliency, because there were some tears along the way."
The boys dug deep and advanced to the championship game against Team 42, a club team in Baltimore. Kessenich says the boys had never played a club team before. But they took the pressure in stride.
"Are we gonna lose or are we gonna win? And if we lose, we're suppose to lose for a reason," said Brooklyn Jones. "When something bad happens I always think it's suppose to happen."
"We kept saying we're going to make history and that even if we lose that game, we still made history because we're the first Charm City team to ever make it to the championship," said Tyrese Stanley.
With their coach's words in the back of their minds, the U-11 Team beat the club team 4 to 1 and ended the eight year losing streak. Charm City Lacrosse finally had its championship team.
Kessenich says championships are just a perk to their program, that their goal is to get kids hooked on the game and let it take them where it will. But he can't deny how proud it makes him feel when he sees his boys smile, holding their medals and trophies.
"The boys are in my heart and they will be there for a long time."
Charm City Lacrosse relies solely on donations and volunteers to offer the clinics to the kids. To learn more about the program and how you can help, click here.
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