High School Lacrosse Begins to Rise in Los Angeles

Watch lacrosse park players Ayomide Aborisade and Eve Hart play on the driving range.

Lacrosse park players Ayomide Aborisade (left) and Eva Hart have fun on the driving range.

(Luca Evans/Los Angeles Times)

On a tiny patch of turf on the home campus of the Inner City Educational Foundation Public Schools, a group of six girls and boys from View Park were giggling as they tried to kick the ball out of each other’s sticks at practice on Thursday.

They were shooting at a tiny net because their only full size net, borrowed from a Pacific Palisades player who had already graduated from high school, was broken. The clubs in their hands were either left behind by an old Harlem Lacrosse youth non-profit camp or bought through an aggressive Facebook marketplace by coach Elizabeth Waterman.

“The funding aspect,” freshman coach Waterman said, “was difficult.”

It’s a microcosm of the promises and hurdles facing high school lacrosse programs in Los Angeles. Individual clubs can cost up to $150, gloves $200, helmets up to $300—an “expensive startup,” as Borrell put it.

The city section, which covers more teams from underfunded areas, has only 12 schools that field a lacrosse team. Class inequality corresponded to racial inequality at the collegiate level. Despite little improvement over the past decade, 83% women’s and men’s lacrosse teams in 2022 were white.

“If you say you play lacrosse, people say, ‘Oh, those white people are shit,'” says Ayomide Aborisade, a member of the View Park women’s lacrosse team.

Youth programs like Harlem Lacrosse, which has taken root at Compton High, are key to the game’s growth in low-income communities, coaches say. View Park has lost every game in its schedule this season by not fielding enough students to play. But Waterman hopes there will be more rugby after the school season ends, and the sport’s impact on Thursday’s joyful group was clear.

“I think it’s a pretty unique sport,” Aborisade said. “We also want to make it more known not just to white kids, but to black kids.”