History on Founding Organizations Leading to More Sports Collaboration
Everyone’s A Player: Everyone’s A Player (EAP) is a 100% volunteer run 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides equal access and opportunities for youth in Merrimack Valley who need assistance to participate in sports, enrichment & wellness programs. The organization was founded in 2011 by four women and has helped over 4,000 + kids to engage in programs to help improve their health and well-being.
Over the last 5 years, EAP has built strong partnerships within the Lawrence community and has shifted its focus to primarily work (90% of funding and efforts) with Lawrence based sports organizations and schools.
EAP’s focus is to level the playing field and help grow the number of kids participating in sports and provide programming to help them become healthier, more well-rounded student athletes.
Through grassroots fundraising, equipment drives and donations, EAP provides funding and support for individual athletes and programs, scholarships for elite athletes and assistance to local schools and sports programs that support low income student athletes. EAP has helped thousands of athletes to participate in baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, volleyball, & wrestling on a town level, club level and all the way up to national championship events.
One of EAP’s founders has served as the assistant coach of the Lawrence High School women’s tennis team for the last 6 years. There has been no formal tennis training program in Lawrence, other than a 6 session middle school intramural program run by teachers, that ran for 4 years and was cancelled after last season. In 2020, Everyone’s A Player and Spark Fitness and Tennis launched Serving Stars, a high-level tennis training, academic tutoring and college prep program for Lawrence youth. Serving Stars is a sanctioned chapter of the United States Tennis Association’s, National Junior Tennis League program. This program will be the first of its kind tennis training program within the city, geared at developing well-rounded student athletes.
Beyond Soccer: Beyond Soccer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, founded in 2007. It was the city’s first soccer program and started with one team of 12 middle school girls and has significantly grown over the last 13 years to impact over 5,500 + Lawrence students, ages 4-18. Beyond Soccer runs year-round and provides programming both on-and-off the field to develop well-rounded student-athletes. The soccer program includes a city-wide recreational program, travel soccer, club soccer opportunities as well as a winter indoor futsal program.
Beyond Soccer also offers many high-quality enrichment programs throughout the year that focus on health and wellness, conditioning, leadership development, academic support as well as partner with Lawrence schools, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs to provide in-school and after school sport & health programs. Beyond Soccer has also been extremely committed to its youth summer jobs and leadership program and hires 10-15 alumni from the program every year.
In 2019, the organization opened a sports hub facility in Lawrence to provide indoor soccer and training opportunities for Beyond Soccer players, and other Lawrence organizations including Merrimack Volley and Seunos Basketball were able to utilize the facility for their indoor training sessions.
In early 2020, Merrimack Volley and Beyond Soccer joined forces to form Beyond Volley. The goal was to provide more opportunities for Lawrence youth to benefit from soccer & volleyball, and for current Merrimack Volley youth & teenage players to be part of a larger, extended family, with more access to on-and-off the field sport, health, leadership & academic enrichment support.
Partnership activities leading to the the Lawrence Sports Leadership Collaborative
In 2012, Beyond Soccer and Everyone’s A Player began working together and it has been a true partnership ever since. Beyond Soccer was one of the first mentors to EAP and provided guidance and support after the launch of the non-profit and helped EAP to navigate the Lawrence sports community. Over the years, EAP has run equipment drives and provided funding and support to help Beyond Soccer with clinics, camp scholarships, uniforms.
Throughout the years, Beyond Soccer and Everyone’s A Player had many meetings to discuss how to improve the city’s low sports participation rates and provide innovative, high-quality summer sports and leadership programming for the youth that didn’t exist within the city. Through these discussions, Lawrence Sports Leadership Academy was formed.
- In 2015, Beyond Soccer & EAP launched Lawrence Sports Leadership Academy, a first of its kind multi-sports leadership summer camp that serves over 400 youth. The camp is in its 5th year.
- Baseball participation in Lawrence has dropped from over 2,000 kids participating in 10 years ago to less than 900 in the 2019 season. In the fall of 2019, Beyond Soccer, EAP and the leadership of Julio Ramos formed Lawrence Sports Baseball Collaborative to bring together 8 Lawrence baseball groups to help write grants, obtain equipment and raise funding to reduce their operating expenses and help them increase the number of kids they reach in the city. We are also helping to launch a city-wide softball league to get 100 girls to participate in the program. This summer, we are partnering with the Red Sox Foundation, to provide access for Lawrence baseball players and teams to participate in the Red Sox’ Interactive RBI Online Training Platform.
- In early January 2020, Lawrence Sports Leadership Academy put a plan together to launch year-round programming to include sports training, leadership development, enrichment programming, and college prep activities. These sessions would include high-level sports and fitness trainers, motivational speakers, educational experts, and college coaches and players.
- In the spring of 2020, Beyond Soccer and EAP, with the help of other Lawrence sports organizations formed Lawrence Sports Leadership Collaborative (LSLC) to provide a network of shared resources to help strengthen and grow the Lawrence sports community and improve the quality of the programming for the youth of the city. Some of the services the collaborative will offer are high-level coaches training, grant writing, funding for additional facility access, enrichment, and college prep programs. These programs will have a significant impact on the youth of Lawrence and help to set them up for success in high school and beyond. Currently, we are working with Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative, who has built a successful model that is similar to LSLC, to provide guidance and support to help us launch the initiative.
Current Sports Collaborative Members
New England Gladiators – Frank Drejaj
New England Hoops Academy – Max Lopez
Smart Hoops/YMCA – Suzanne Lessard (LHS Basketball) & Dan Blouin (CCHS)
Suenos Basketball – Jacqueline & Jocelyn Marte
The City Youth Basketball – Carlos Nunez
Wilks Skills and Drills – Wilkins Victor
Serving Stars – Michelle Adamic and Adam Molda
Central Little League – Mandy Dauphin
Baseball City – Julio Jimenez
Hitter Home – Hansel and Angie Martinez
Lawrence Legion/LHS Baseball – Julio Ramos
Mercedes Baseball – Natanael Mercedes
South Lawrence East – Bryan Thomas
South Lawrence West – William Medina
Beyond Soccer – Stephanie McArdle and Johnny Noel
Lawrence Pop Warner – Linette Pichardo and Wascar Vargas
Beyond Volley (Formerly MerrimackVolley) – Marino Valdez and Marleti Valdez
Youth Volleyball Program – Hector Sanchez, LHS Volleyball coach