As I mentioned in my last blog, there a number of other programs like WINNERS across the country in other cities. At least once a year the groups all meet up in Denver for a weekend-long urban lacrosse intensive. I am so fortunate I was able to attend this year. Not only was it great for WINNERS, but personally I love being in thought-provoking situations (my inner nerd is showing). 

The groups that in attendance were Oakland Lacrosse, City Lacrosse in L.A., Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, OWLS Lacrosse in Chicago, WINNERS Lacrosse, and Denver City Lax (of course). We talked about so many topics, both big and small. 

The summit is a great opportunity for everyone to share their best practices, and to even come up with new ones. Collaboration is key with what we do, especially because we are all trying to accomplish the same goal of not only bringing the sport to new places but making a difference in the lives of as many boys and girls as possible. 

While we had great discussions on various topics, it was amazing to just sink in how much impact our programs are having. There is always more to do such as gaining more awareness, getting more kids involved, and raising more money to sustain the programs. I found it so powerful when we all went around the room and said how many kids were in our programs, just the six of us are touching THOUSANDS of lives. It’s so energizing to me when these moments happen, and important to remember when we are all at times running around like crazy people.

So what did come out of this weekend? 

We identified areas that were most important to us and did essentially a troubleshooting session. One of the constant struggles is funding. It’s not “nice” to talk about, but that is where collectively we need help. To do what we do requires a lot of financial resources, and equipment is just the beginning. We talked a lot about the different types of fundraisers we do and what’s successful and challenging about each. As a program director, it was very interesting to hear since I’m not fully immersed in the fundraising world every day like many of them are being Executive Directors. Another topic that arose was awareness. Everyone agreed that there still are a lot of people out there that have no idea what we are doing. One thing that some other groups do that we are exploring at WINNERS for the coming year is bringing an “all-star team” from the spring season to a local summer tournament for not only exposure for our program but the opportunity for our players to grow both on and off the field. 

Lastly, what really came out of this weekend was a desire to do more collectively. We want to not only do more for our programs, but help people develop urban lacrosse programs in other cities. It truly is amazing what you can accomplish when you put a lot of heads together, and I’m so excited to see and work on what’s next! A HUGE thanks again to Rod Allison of Denver City Lax for organizing, it was a tremendous weekend!

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