Taking substantive action as outlined by their team’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) action plan, men’s lacrosse will be running a 5K tomorrow to raise money for Harlem Lacrosse, an organization that empowers youth at risk of school dropout and academic decline through lacrosse and academic support. The team’s “Running Against Racism” fundraiser has raised $5,050 up from its goal of $3,100.
Bowdoin Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Jason Archbell emphasized the different ways in which the team’s DEI action plan is supposed to address problems of inclusion, not just at Bowdoin but in the larger world as well.
“It’s separated into a couple of different parts,” Archbell said in a Microsoft Teams interview with the Orient. “We’ll combat what’s going on at Bowdoin, from systemic racism issues, to what we can do in our local area and then to what we can do a little bit bigger than our local area, which is where Harlem Lacrosse came into play.”
Harlem Lacrosse is an organization that the lacrosse team has been involved with since 2016, with many alumni working or volunteering for the organization after graduating from Bowdoin. Harlem Lacrosse works with youth in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and those involved in the program not only get training in lacrosse, but also receive mentoring, tutoring and college admissions counseling.
Austin Philie ’23, a member of the lacrosse team, has been working with Harlem Lacrosse since high school.
“[Harlem Lacrosse] is a great way for our sport to bring kids together…as a team not just on the field but off the field,” Philie said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I gather their main goal is to create leaders in our society at a very young age through sport and through opportunity.”
Philie noted that providing opportunities is a central component of Harlem Lacrosse, and that he and other members of the lacrosse team find this mission compelling.
“It’s not always about money.” Philie said. “I know I’ve come from a privileged background and I’m lucky…many kids on our lacrosse team have this position, and I think it’s great that we can use that position to help others.”
Through its partnership with Bowdoin, some students involved with Harlem Lacrosse in Boston come up annually to visit the College, participate in a clinic and hear from a guest speaker.
This year, due to restrictions caused by COVID-19, the team will not be able to host the students on campus. Instead, they decided to run a 5K to raise money for the program.
“Everybody thought that getting more involved and doing more for Harlem Lacrosse would be a really good idea,” Archbell said. “One of our senior captains, Michael Covell, talked to some people at Harlem Lacrosse, and so much of what they need right now is raising funds for different COVID[-19] reasons. That’s where the idea of doing a 5K run started.”
The team spread the word of their fundraiser through different forms of social media and a GoFundMe page.
“Not everyone will be doing it together, but many of us are living off campus in houses, and we’ll be running together,” Philie said.
Captain and goalie Michael Covell ’21 fundraised an additional $2,280 for Harlem Lacrosse through participating in the New York City Marathon.
“I wanted to keep raising money for Harlem Lacrosse and decided to run [the marathon remotely] in Brunswick and continue raising [money] for them,” Covell said in a phone interview with the Orient. “A lot of people donated, which was awesome, and it was a really fun opportunity.”
Covell hopes the fundraiser will help support the students in the program and believes that the fundraiser is the best way to help Harlem Lacrosse provide more opportunities for those students.
“Unfortunately with COVID[-19] there’s only so much we can do with them personally,” Covell said. “Using our networks and trying to raise as much money as we can and then having this money donated to Harlem Lacrosse will make a big impact.”
According to Philie, the rest of the team echoes his sentiments about participating in the fundraiser, especially since some of the seniors on the team have been working with Harlem Lacrosse for the past four years.
“We are moving together on this as a team,” Philie said. “I think it’s a great way for us to have perspective on our lives and take a step back and realize there’s much bigger things going on that we can help. I think everyone’s in on it for sure.”
Philie also emphasized that Harlem Lacrosse opens up the door to the sport for those who don’t normally participate in lacrosse, helping the sport become more diverse and inclusive.
“Harlem Lacrosse has been a huge help for people who don’t get the chance to play lacrosse usually, giving them a chance to put a stick in their hand and get on the field, and that’s broadening our horizons as a sport,” Philie said. “It’s bringing more people into the sport and more people means more diversity, more inclusion… I think that helps everyone feel included in our sport, and especially in a sport that’s predominately rich white kids.”