Harlem Lacrosse, a nonprofit whose growth has been shaped by former Hobart players, is sending two of its graduates to the Statesmen team. Souleymane Ballo ’23 and Mamadou Meite ’23 will join Hobart lacrosse this fall, having completed the years-long Harlem Lacrosse program, which guides the success of young student-athletes in the classroom, on the field and in their communities.
Harlem Lacrosse mentors and coaches work with middle and high school students to develop skills in lacrosse while providing academic and social support, including college counseling, career exploration and service learning opportunities.
Meite, who wanted to challenge himself academically as a high school sophomore, enrolled in advance placement courses, which “were tough,” he says, “and I struggled a little. Harlem lacrosse helped by giving me volunteer tutors who I met with once every week. The academic support of Harlem Lacrosse helped push me through all the AP classes I took in high school.”
“My coaches periodically throughout the school year would check in on me to make sure I was on top of things,” says Ballo. “At Harlem Lacrosse, it was not always about getting the best grades in the classroom, but getting the best grades I could get.”
“Harlem Lacrosse uses lacrosse as the leverage to push kids toward their full potential,” says Sean Regan ’13, who has been volunteering as a tutor and mentor with the organization for the past four years. “With my first three students, the goal was to tutor them in math to help boost their testing scores. Through their hard work, Harlem Lacrosse was able to place all three of these students in boarding schools. ”
Founded in 2008, Harlem Lacrosse has grown to include nearly 900 students in 22 school-based programs in five major cities. HWS has helped drive the success of the organization since 2013, when Jim Mulvey ’83 signed on as executive and managing director. Mulvey now serves on the organization’s New York Advisory Board.
Harlem Lacrosse’s impact is evident in the academic achievement of student-athletes and in the $27 million in scholarship offers they have received from independent schools and colleges, including HWS.
“Harlem Lacrosse taught me to keep striving and pushing myself to go beyond [what] I believe I’m capable of,” says Meite, adding that the program “changed my life.”
“Even though Harlem is not necessarily a hotbed for lacrosse, my coaches and teammates always showed confidence in me,” says Ballo. “Whether it was at a club tournament in Maryland, or just practice at the handball court, I was constantly reminded that it didn’t matter where we played lacrosse, we could hang with anyone.”
Though Harlem Lacrosse, Ballo and Meite connected with Hobart Lacrosse Head Coach Greg Raymond, visited the Colleges and, as Ballo says, “the rest is history.”
Additional information about the organization and its programs can be found at harlemlacrosse.org.