1. History, Services, and Fiscal Responsibility
Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse (BYL) offers students the chance to experience a unique sport not offered in all inner-city environments. It gives the participants a constructive, supervised activity to learn new skills, develop sportsmanship, experience leadership opportunities, and to get exercise. BYL receives donations of new and used equipment from Fairfield County residents and corporations to ensure each child has the necessary safety equipment and sticks. Our participants do not supply their own equipment because the cost for them would be prohibitive. BYL wants to ensure all children have the chance to learn and play without their safety being compromised in any way.
Since 2006, BYL has provided lacrosse training in the form of clinics, travel teams, and in-house leagues to underserved, underprivileged youth in the Bridgeport metro area. BYL has become a unique sports learning, mentoring, and networking lacrosse program. Programs caters to youth who would like to learn a new sport, embrace a new challenge, think outside the box, and take part in the fastest growing sport in the country. BYL currently teaches lacrosse in four Bridgeport public middle schools. With the help of our sponsors; The Rusty Red Foundation, Weston Lacrosse Club, Maverick Lacrosse, The City of Bridgeport, The Lighthouse Program, The Mayors Sub-Committee on Youth and Sports, CONNY, US Lacrosse, Univ. New Haven, Univ. Bridgeport, Sacred Heart, Fairfield University, Konica Minolta, Inside Lacrosse, MacWear, Unparalleled Lacrosse and numerous other community partners, BYL has grown by leaps and bounds. Currently, BYL has over 100 members and serves over 350 young people from the greater Bridgeport metro area. Our commitment to building a culture and a grass-root program was recognized on June 11, 2012. BYL was honored by the Western Lacrosse Officials Association (WCLOA) for our hard work, sportsmanship and dedication in developing lacrosse in Bridgeport.
Donald Wilson is founder and President of Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse. Before starting BYL, Don taught youth for over ten years as a volunteer and a mentor in Bridgeport and other local community facilities before starting BYL. He has played and excelled in sports and life. While introducing his two children to lacrosse, Don saw an opportunity to start a unique program in the city where he lives. In 2010 Don earned his level 1 coaching certificate through US lacrosse (the national governing body). The Fairfield County Sports Commission recognized Don in 2009 as Sports Person of the Year for Bridgeport. This recognition speaks to his vision and leadership in his community and BYL. For the past five years, Don has coached and mentored hundreds of children with tremendous success. Don continues to attend specialty training, seminars, camps, workshops, and college to grow his knowledge and understanding of the game. BYL is a non-profit organization that is served by a six-member board of directors, parents, volunteers and supporters who helps with the leadership of BYL.
Donald is responsible for the day-to-day operations of BYL, which has been a one-man operation since its inception. He handles all bill paying including charges for the fields; used at the Sheehan Center and Hall Neighborhood House. Don works with the City of Bridgeport to secure additional field space. Don is also responsible for program content and delivery. Since 2009, a data collection system has been in place to accurately track memberships and programs in growth; we are proud of the fact that our membership has increased by 20% each year for the past six years.
BYL members participate in a broad array of play, from fall and winter leagues and clinics, to spring clinics, leagues, and travel teams. In addition, BYL currently offers both summer camps and summer elite teams. Boys, who knew nothing about lacrosse and its demanding, competitive nature, now travel outside of Bridgeport to Giants Stadium, Gillette Stadium, and sites on Long Island. There are currently two boys’ teams with 20 boys each. Through the purchase of sticks and goggles, girls will now have an expanded opportunity to learn the sport through clinics and league play. BYL hosts its activities at Veterans Park 3455 Madison Avenue, Central High School, Hall Neighborhood House and Freedom Park (Luis Munoz Marin School) for seven to ten hours a week meeting three to four days depending on the specific program.
3. Target and Outreach
BYL targets two distinct market segments. The first is youth ages 5-15. BYL targets this group through working with the schools, churches and other community partners. As this group ages and grows so does BYL. The young adults ages 16-21 are the second group. This group already is actively involved by providing volunteer hours totaling 20 to 30 hours per young person per year offering teaching, coaching, and mentoring. BYL targets both groups through advertising in the local newspaper, churches, schools, community websites, and bulletin boards. Social media is also used to interest the young athletes through Facebook and Twitter.
BYL also builds recruitment through a variety of other channels, including word-of-mouth advertising, yard signs and flyers, our website, the *CT Gold Coast Cup family day and our **International Family Breakfast fundraisers, our parental support and our volunteers. We have truly created a family and community connection, which is the ultimate manifestation of our mission; one, which we believe will help to fuel our growth in years to come.
4. Data Collection and Measuring Success
Participants are tracked to define new and returning athletes. Success is defined in many ways. From the data collection, BYL can see the number of new participants, the number of returning participants, and the total number of participants. Older students who return to volunteer are considered success. Success is also achieved when one of our athletes makes a college team. Success can be recorded as well in wins and losses as they also represent skills learned. In the spring of 2009 we had no established teams; from 2006-2009 we grew our membership, teaching and establishing our organizational culture and programs. In 2010, BYL had a 1-8 season; in 2011 4-5; in 2012 Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse sought perfection as we finished the regular season 13-3 losing all three games by only 3pts. We also finished at the CONNY tournament 1-1 losing to Bethel in the championship by a thrilling 1 goal.
5. Coordinating Services
BYL coordinates with the City of Bridgeport, The Cardinal Shehan Center and Hall Neighborhood House for fields and facilities for practices, clinics, and games. BYL participates on The Mayor’s Sub-Committee on Youth and Sports. BYL has the cooperation of area churches, community centers, barber and beauty salons for flyer dissemination. BYL also works closely with the Lighthouse Program, the Bridgeport Chargers, Bridgeport Panthers, Bridgeport Raiders and the Park City Little League to recruit both participants and volunteers.
· CT Gold Coast Cup: Annual community fundraising event
· Int’l Family Breakfast: Annual team, family and community event