Teacher brings lacrosse to inner city

July 5, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Sam Angelotta earns his keep as a pre-school teacher, getting young ones excited about learning and literacy. But when the school day ends at St. Malachy School on the city's West Side, Angelotta doesn't go far to spend his free time.

After playing semi-pro in the United Kingdom, Angelotta made it his mission to bring the game to unchartered territories. He started Owls Lacrosse, a volunteer organization dedicated to creating sustainable lacrosse programs for schools and communities in the inner city. His first team is at his home school on the city's West Side.

"Every kid is new. Every kid starts on an even playing field. Every kid gets to play. And once you brought in the helmets and gloves and said hey you can hit this kid with a stick then it was a pretty easy actually to recruit them," said Angelotta.

"Actually I wanted to try something new so I just tried it out," said Starmaria Williams, 10

"I didn't know what it was until he introduced me to it and he started breaking it down and stuff so then I just thought it was real interesting," said Sherrodd Cobbies Jr., 12.

"It seemed like a fun sport," said Jalen Weathers, 12. "First I liked it because of the hitting and the… just hitting people and then I liked it because I can score."

In addition to donating his time and coordinating volunteers to help coach and run the program, Angelotta has also secured donations for all of the equipment. He wanted to ensure the program was free so cost would not be a barrier to participation.

"It's the fastest growing sport in the country, but for whatever reason it didn't hit the inner city because of funding because of the equipment, traditionally a prep school sport," he said. "But you know when I look at the game itself, there are so many connections to basketball as far as the offensive and defensive schemes and concepts that it really translated quite easily to them."

Owls Lacrosse has just formed a community lacrosse team on the West Side. They are hoping to get more inner-city schools to pick up the sport to help build competition. Right now St. Malachy's team has to travel to the suburbs to play other teams.

For more information, visit www.owlslacrosse.org.

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