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Soldiers on the Field


Success found John Christmas and Eric Gregg at an early age on the lacrosse field. Today, they hit the streets of Philadelphia to teach kids the founding principles of L.E.A.P.S. Lacrosse, a nonprofit organization that promotes “Lacrosse Education Attitude Perseverance Success.”

“The game was played by Native Americans to prepare for war,” says Christmas, a three-time All-American who attended Lower Merion High School. “Today, it’s a great tool to motivate kids.”

L.E.A.P.S. facilitates 15 existing teams in the city’s Middle School League and one high school team. It partners with Philly rec centers, runs two Ardmore feeder programs for boys and girls, and is starting work with 32 schools without teams. “The boys are still talking about them,” says St. Davids’ Beverly Ahrensdorf, recalling Christmas and Gregg’s visit to Pepper Middle School, where she teaches. “Many had never played a sport.”

L.E.A.P.S. has raised nearly $15,000; Lower Merion, Haverford College and other institutions have adopted teams; and the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association is among those who’ve provided equipment. But the real payback is in the mentorship. “I remember what it was like my first day on the field,” says Gregg, a former lacrosse goalie at Episcopal Academy. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if someone hadn’t done these things for me.”

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