Stephanie Green has always had a passion for lacrosse, as well as enriching the lives of children. For the longest time she wished she could combine her passions in some way. Through her studies and personal growth she realized that there are few opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities to play sports, much less lacrosse. This inspired her to start AdaptLax, a new program that will enable children with developmental disabilities to participate in lacrosse.
Green is a CNU junior, a pre-med student majoring in neuroscience, as well as a student athlete on the women’s lacrosse team. She is a resident of Pasadena, Md. who played lacrosse in high school, but did not put herself out for college recruitment. Instead, she chose to attend CNU for purely academic purposes and has managed to have at least a 3.0 grade point average even while taking 18 credit hours every semester.
Once at CNU, Green felt that she needed something to keep her active and disciplined, so she talked to Head Coach Carolyn Raviea about walking on to the women’s lacrosse team. She started playing during her first spring semester.
After her freshman year, Green received a study abroad opportunity to travel with the Canon Scholar to Oxford, England. The program included a written report on something each student individually could do to change the world and impact his or her community.
“My passion for lacrosse and children came together,” said Green. “And I realized that there are no opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities to participate in lacrosse.”
Lacrosse is absent from the Special Olympics, and after researching Green found that there are only two other organizations, one in Maryland, the other in New York, that offer lacrosse to intellectually disabled children. Applying for a Ferguson fellowship was Green’s first step for creating a similar local program, which became AdaptLax.
“I was granted the scholarship in 2011, it was $2,000, and it provided me with the funding to start the project,” said Green.
Along with the grant money, she has worked to raise the program’s funds with equipment drives through her high school and also by partnering with Lax World and US Lacrosse.
Starting the organization was an extremely long process, and Green was not sure exactly what the next step would be. Soon she received an answer when her adaptive lacrosse program was set to be an umbrella organization directly under Hampton Roads Lacrosse.
Green said that Raviea became her mentor and has helped tremendously with resources to found AdaptLax. She also notes the help she received from Hampton Roads Lacrosse in forming the foundation for her program.
There are a multitude of CNU lacrosse players, from both the men’s and women’s teams, that want to volunteer once the program starts. The biggest thing that Green says she stresses to her volunteers is that they must have patience to teach, but also be able to take the passion they have for the sport and give it to others.
“Fulfillment for me right now would be to see one complete game with these children”, said Green.
She has the vision that these children can and will be able to participate in a full game, using the same pads and sticks that her college lacrosse team uses.
“I even see an integrated game happening, with either a local team or the CNU team,” said Green.
Once the program is set up, games will have players using the same general lacrosse equipment. However, time limits, a no contact rule and other rule modifications will be in place to adapt the game. Green plans to have clinic days for instructional use, then a tournament play day at the end of the month.
As important as actual game play is, Green stresses that relationship building and ensuring that the children enjoy themselves are equally important. Hampton Roads and CNU Lacrosse will be the ones providing coaching for the clinics and game.
Green recognizes that involvement would include more than just a child saying ‘yes’, so she works to reach out to parents. Registrations will be $20 a year and equipment will be available for the children, who will be able to keep one of the lacrosse sticks they are provided.
Green notes that her major has helped her understand intellectual disabilities better; last semester her final research paper was on mental retardation.
“I’m now able to put together the biological and cellular issues and compare them to the behavior that we see every day,” said Green.
Beyond her passion for school and working to found AdaptLax, Green is a self-taught guitarist who loves to be outdoors. Since coming to CNU, she has discovered many things about herself, including that lacrosse has a new place in her life.
“When you’re in high school you are pushing yourself to get to the next level,” she explained. “But now I know now in my head that there is no next level in lacrosse for me. I’m not going to play professional women’s lacrosse. It’s definitely changed from an improving standpoint to just a love of the game now.”
But this doesn’t change her focus. When she does something, she gives it 110 percent, especially with another season left and championships within sight for the team.
After school Green plans to stay in the area and attend graduate school as well as stay involved in AdaptLax. Long term, Green would like to see AdaptLax fully established under Hampton Roads Lacrosse and be the head representative of Virginia for adaptive lacrosse. She hopes participants will be involved in intrastate tournaments with both the Maryland and New York organizations. She wishes to have a large number of participates along with involvement from families.
“Once it fully takes hold it will be great.”