“You’re only as good as your last play.”
This advice from a high school lacrosse coach still guides Omar Alhagiko and pushes him to keep striving for more. Now a Division I lacrosse player at Wagner College, the CityLax alum is looking forward to graduating this spring with a double major in Finance and Economics. He hopes to enter the world of finance and continue to be involved with lacrosse, a sport that has greatly impacted his life and made him who he is today.
As a goalie, Omar particularly valued the CityLax Winter Clinics, where he was able to gain extra coaching and mentorship from the volunteer coaches who were post-collegiate players. “CityLax was the first opportunity where I got to play full contact over the winter and got coaching from former college players. I know this was especially helpful to the rest of my teammates, as well, because it was a chance for us to get up and get after it during the winter when we weren’t allowed to practice as a team.”
Omar recognizes the influence he has over younger players from Staten Island and the fact that many of these students need the lessons of lacrosse. He explains, “At Curtis, there are a lot of kids who are well off, and then there are a lot of kids whose parents have gone through a lot and this is their way of getting away from it all.” Omar regularly back to Curtis to help coach practices and inspire the younger student-athletes with his story. One of these student-athletes is Omar’s younger brother, Bader.
“It’s a bit tough having my older brother at the clinics,” Bader admits. “But it’s also nice because I know he comes from a good place and he wants to see me get better.”
Bader says that having Omar and his teammates help out at the clinics has been beneficial for the entire team, both in terms of lacrosse and academics. “Omar is a main factor of me keeping my grades up,” says Bader. “He shows me and the rest of our team that college lacrosse takes a lot of work, and that if we want to play in college, we’ve got to put in the work, both on and off the field.”
Omar also remembers his time at Curtis High School in Staten Island and the difficult transition to college lacrosse. “It’s a different ballgame when you’ve been playing the sport for only a few years and then you’re playing with kids who’ve played their whole lives. You have to work harder just to catch up, which is tough—but you remember why you started playing and why you love the sport. For me, I love the competition and being a part of a team, and the fact that as long as you put in the work, you can get better and stand out, even if you’re not the best natural athlete. It’s a unique sport because of that.”
“It was great learning from the college players how they got there and how they balance playing lacrosse at the same time, because that’s definitely something that I want to do.”
Coming from a family with roots in Maryland, Ian Kenny began playing lacrosse at a young age. His father, who had always been a fan of the sport but had never played, gifted Ian a lacrosse stick for his birthday; Ian hasn’t stopped playing ever since.
“When my family moved to Brooklyn, I joined Brooklyn lacrosse, but I was looking for a way to practice during the rest of the year. That’s how I found CityLax, through the off-season programming. My first time at the Winter Clinics was also my first time going up against other kids in the PSAL, so it was a really different and challenging experience.”
Part of what makes Ian such a stronger player is also why he loves the sport; he explains, “I like competing and working hard to get better. Lacrosse isn’t a game where you can just walk out and be the best player out there. You have to put in the effort” He is a dedicated player, participating regularly in the Winter Clinics program and always finding more time to play. His best advice for younger players is to keep playing—“It’s all about having fun and getting better,” he says, “So keep playing!”
All of Ian’s hard work prepared him to lead his team at Midwood High School to the PSAL Championships. “It was a lot of pressure,” says Ian, “But I knew we were going to win, because we came too far to lose and I trusted my team. We played as hard as we could.” And it paid off—Ian finished the game with 4 goals, securing Midwood’s win.
At this year’s CityLax Summer Camp Hosted by Big Apple, Ian says he learned more than just lacrosse skills—he was able to learn about the path to college from the college players who were guest coaches at the camp. “I want to a be a vet or a doctor, so I definitely want to go to college. It was great learning from the college players how they got there and how they balance playing lacrosse at the same time, because that’s definitely something that I want to do.”
To the donors and volunteers, Ian has one thing to say: “Thank you. Thank you for helping me get better, for providing college players to help, and for giving me opportunities to play more.”
“I feel like my experience at NorthStar has made me a better player and I’ll be able to bring what I’ve learned home and make my team stronger.”
Carly Fine, a junior at Bayside High School in Queens, was one of two selected student-athletes to attend the elite NorthStar Invitational camp this summer. She started playing attack her freshman year and has slowly transitioned to become a strong midfield player who stands out on the field not just for her skills, but also for her character and commitment. Carly explains, “I feel like my experience at NorthStar has made me a better player and I’ll be able to bring what I’ve learned home and explain to my teammates different perspectives of lacrosse, which will make my team stronger.”
Carly also attended the inaugural CityLax Summer Camp hosted by Big Apple in July as part of a continued effort to improve her game. “The CityLax Summer Camp was a lot of fun and I was able to build myself up and strengthen my skills through the practice and drills everyday,” says Carly. “I also got to play with girls from different teams that I played against during the spring, which was cool.” While there, Carly also learned about the college application process, which helped her to visualize her dreams of going to college and becoming a nurse practitioner.
“Practice every day. You can’t just practice one day, you need to practice a lot if you want to get better”
Joshua Dyer is a recent graduate of Christopher Columbus High School. Hailing from the Bronx, Joshua is excited to make the move to New Rochelle and begin his freshman year at Monroe College this fall. He intends to study Human Services at Monroe and be able to explore all of the opportunities that the school has to offer.
Joshua is a long stick defender and a major asset to his team, on and off of the field. Safe to say, he is the team’s “hype man.” Constantly cheering on his teammates and making sure that everyone is focused, Joshua likes to keep his teammates on their toes.
Joshua started playing lacrosse during his sophomore year. He started playing because he was injured while playing football and missed out on most of the season. By the time lacrosse season rolled around, he was on the road to recovery and decided to join the lacrosse team. Joshua has said that joining the lacrosse team has not only given him copious opportunities but also the boost of confidence that he needed to balance playing two sports.
Joshua enjoys the competitive nature of lacrosse, even though he claims to get a little “hot-headed” when the competition gets tough. As a team captain, Joshua says that his leadership skills have translated into his ability to play on the field. He is a very vocal and personable player, willing to help out his teammates when needed. “Since I enjoy the competition so much, I like to take every advantage that I am given,” Joshua says. Running to every ground ball, defending the ball down the field, and being an outlet for his teammates, Joshua is a driven player.
“Don’t give up on a goal. Set a goal and don’t give up on it,” Joshua emphasizes. Failure is not an option in Joshua’s mind. He believes that with determination and hard work, no one should give up on their goals.
In his down time, Joshua enjoys working out and physically preparing himself for football and lacrosse seasons. As a two-sport athlete, it is important that Joshua stay in the best shape as possible in order to keep up with the pace of both games. Although Monroe does not have a lacrosse team, Joshua hopes to walk on to the football and rugby teams, to keep his athletic ability on par.
“Practice every day. You can’t just practice one day, you need to practice a lot if you want to get better,” Joshua adds. He believes that with constant practice, improvement will set in.
This past season, Joshua was one out of the two students chosen from Christopher Columbus to be named 1st Team All Division in the PSAL Boys A Division. Being able to receive such an honor has given him the confidence and the reassurance that praise comes with hard work.
This past winter, Joshua attended the CityLax Winter PSAL Clinics at Christopher Columbus High School. These clinics gave him the opportunity to play with his teammates as well as other players, and fine tune some of his skills before the season began. “They have it every year and that’s where I got better and built my confidence in the sport,” Joshua says.
With a new chapter in his life beginning soon, Joshua has seen his potential and level of confidence increase, not only in lacrosse but in school. He hopes to continue on that path of improvement, on and off the field, as he heads off to Monroe in just a couple months.