10 Years Later: Returning to Harlem Lacrosse

Sports Matter Celebrates 10 Years with Harlem Lacrosse
Jun 12, 2024 9:30 AM ET

Originally published on DICK'S Sporting Goods Sideline Report

A lot can change in a decade. When The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation first visited Harlem Lacrosse in 2014, Dyjae Pearson and Jordany Baltazar were just teenagers looking for guidance in a life surrounded by chaos. They found that structure in Harlem Lacrosse and their coach, Joel Censer.

Now ten years later, they view Harlem Lacrosse and coach Censer as the main catalysts for their successful lives.

“I was never a bad kid,” said Pearson. “I was just falling victim to the environment I was in.”

After being featured in the original Sports Matter video that showcases the impact Harlem Lacrosse has in students’ lives, Pearson became more determined to grow beyond his surroundings and find success outside of Harlem.

“Now I’m a dual sport Division 1 athlete and college graduate, someone with a master’s degree and someone selected to play for the United States Virgin Islands national lacrosse team,” said Pearson.

Understanding the meaningful role Harlem Lacrosse had in his life, Pearson teamed up again with Baltazar to surprise their old coach with a game-changing message.

To celebrate The DICK’S Foundation’s 10th anniversary, Baltazar and Pearson showed up to a recent practice, where they presented the program with a $100,000 Sports Matter grant and new gear for the entire Harlem Lacrosse team.

If you ask Baltazar, the money couldn’t be in better hands.

“One of the biggest things that Harlem Lacrosse provided was guidance,” said Baltazar. “Our success comes from what we’ve learned from coach Censer. He passed it on to us, and we will pass it on to the next generation.”

In addition to lacrosse instruction, Harlem Lacrosse seeks to provide opportunities, relationships, and experiences that activate the skills and traits that put youth on a path to success as students, athletes, and citizens.

The $100,000 grant won’t just make an impact in Harlem. Over the years, the program has grown exponentially.

“Ten years ago, I was one of three employees,” said Censer. “Now, there are 65 employees and Harlem Lacrosse serves around 1,300 students in five major cities nationwide. I feel blessed and lucky to be part of this.”

To learn more about The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, visit www.sportsmatter.org.