“Seeing that there are a lot of girls in New York City that are so passionate about lacrosse makes me really happy. It is nice to know that there are a lot of other serious players out there.”
Ivy League bound, Emma Seitz is a recent graduate of Hunter College High School. With plans to attend Yale University in the fall, Emma looks forward to the opportunities that lie ahead of her.
Born and raised in Manhattan, New York, Emma’s lacrosse career began in 3rd grade when she started playing goalie for DOC’s NYC. Once middle school came around, Emma was eager to join the lacrosse team. She played all through middle and high school and ended her high school career as a captain of the girl’s varsity team at Hunter.
She began her lacrosse career as a goalie, but slowly transitioned to becoming a field player. This transition gave her the opportunity and ability to explore the game of lacrosse on a broader scale. However, Emma says about playing goalie prior to becoming a midfielder, “I still love goalie and I tried to play one game a season in goal.” Aside from lacrosse, Emma has also been playing ice hockey since she was 5 years old. At age 3, she learned how to skate. By the time she was 5, she had translated her skating skills into a sport. Over the years, Emma has traveled up and down the east coast, playing in games and tournaments.
When she is not out on the lacrosse field or on the ice rink, Emma can be found reading books of the fiction/science fiction genre, writing, or drawing. As an avid English student, Emma finds it fascinating that “there are many different perspectives that can be taken from a reading, and when all of the ideas come together, the discussion can be very interesting.”
When she plays lacrosse, Emma would describe herself as an “intense and aggressive” player. As a midfielder, Emma likes the fast pace of the game and opportunities she gets to carry the ball down the field and score. Over the past 2 seasons, Emma has been given the chance to take the face-offs. What she likes most about the face-off is that she is ”able to determine the opposing team’s strategy and use it as an advantage.”
As a member of the Girl’s Varsity Team at Hunter, one thing that Emma has taken away from the program is that the team is a variety of different people who have come together for a common reason; to play the sport that they love. As a captain, she is very personable and open-minded, willing to help out the younger players. However, she does say that, “If you are not starting when you are younger, do not get discouraged. Go to practice, work hard, and you will improve.”
As a multifaceted student-athlete, Emma has always been told to “control what you can control and do not get discouraged by things that stand in your way. Focus on doing the best that you can and don’t worry about anything else.” She uses this piece of advice when she is playing either lacrosse or ice hockey.
For Emma, CityLax has been a way for her to make friends from other areas of New York City. She says, “Seeing that there are a lot of girls in New York City that are so passionate about lacrosse makes me really happy. It is nice to know that there are a lot of other serious players out there.” The people she has met through her team at Hunter and with DOC’S NYC has given Emma a greater sense of community and companionship that she may otherwise not have known.
At Yale, Emma hopes to study Economics. She will also join the Women’s Varsity Ice Hockey team and will look to get involved in other campus activities once she arrives on campus. She will enjoy her last summer at home by playing ice hockey, working out, and hanging with friends.
“It meant a lot to me to have my teammates to lean on and to have the relationships that I was able to build through lacrosse.”
Jakub Iwon is the goalie for the CityLax-supported Murry Bergtraum Boys lacrosse team. Now a senior at Urban Assembly Maker (one of the four schools in the building that participate on the Murry Bergtraum team), this two-time captain has been the goalie since its establishment last year as a developmental program. While some people may be focused on the scoreboard to determine this season’s success, Jakub is interested in something else—“My goals are that we grow more as a team with each game, that we have more chemistry and communication throughout. We’re already looking better and better as the games progress, so I hope we continue to improve upon that.”
For Jakub, the importance of communication and teamwork goes beyond the field. Last year, only a few weeks into the season, Jakub’s mother passed away. After taking a week off, he decided to return to lacrosse and fully commit himself to the team. “It gave me something else to focus on and something to do after school that kept me from being depressed,” Jakub says. “A lot of people still don’t know about what happened outside of my teammates and close friends. It meant a lot to me to have my teammates to lean on and to have the relationships that I was able to build through lacrosse.”
Joining the lacrosse team provided even more than a new support system for Jakub. His teammates elected him to be a captain during the early stages of the program. As a junior who had never held any sort of leadership position before, Jakub was a little overwhelmed. “I wasn’t used to that kind of leadership. I’m not very vocal usually, but being a captain gave me a different perspective of things. More than just being a player on the team, I had to be a leader and show by example that if I show up and put in this much effort, they should match that.” This season, Jakub will be leading the team as captain, once again. He describes, “Knowing that my teammates elected me again, it shows me that they have trust in me and that I’ve gained their respect. They know that after what I went through last year and how I still stuck with the team and made an effort to learn everything that I could possibly learn about the game, I’m committed to the team.”
Jakub is now in his final semester at Urban Assembly Maker, and as part of hiscurriculum, he is assistant-teaching in a class with his coach, Jason Feldman. “It’s a fun hour to bond with my coach in a different environment,” Jakub says. Coach Feldman describes Jakub as a “rock” for the team due to his dedication and selfless attitude. “The first day, he volunteered to be the goalie when no one else would and he’s really taken on his responsibilities as captain; he’s someone the other players can look up to.”
After high school, Jakub will be pursuing a career in law enforcement. He says, “I want to do something good and help people in a positive way. I feel like there are a lot of stories out there about cops doing bad things, but I feel like if I can at least be that one percent that can do good, I should take the chance and go for it.” He will be studying criminal justice at John Jay University.
“Donors and volunteers of CityLax: Thank you for your leadership and support! It’s you who help us get one step closer to our goals and successful futures.”
Jahnazia “J” Williams is in the eleventh grade, currently attending the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science, located in the Bronx. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, J has lived with multiple foster families and has subsequently moved boroughs and schools throughout her first three years of high school. She was first exposed to lacrosse when CityLax held a clinic at Frederick Douglas Academy during her freshman year there. She describes herself as an open-minded person and credits this characteristic for how she initially got involved with lacrosse. “I wasn’t that familiar with the sport, but I decided to give the clinic a go and see how I liked it,” she explains. What she found, though, was more than just a sport—it was a family.
“At the CityLax Clinics, there was definitely a sense of community. It didn’t matter what your skill level was or whether you were a competitive player or not, we were all on the same ship,” J describes. “We were all impacted by lacrosse in ways that left us changed for the better.”
J quickly picked up the sport and began attending other CityLax programs, including the Summer Pick-Up Clinics at Pier 40, the Girls Fall Showcase Tournament Team, and the Winter PSAL Player Clinics. Her bubbly personality and high energy bring up her teammates and ensure that every practice is as fun as it is challenging. One of J’s favorite things to do is to incorporate her gymnastics skills while playing lacrosse (for instance, catching and passing the ball while simultaneously performing a full split). Through these experiences, she says she’s made “unbreakable bonds” with other kids from all over New York City and she believes the memories from playing lacrosse will always stay with her.
To J, lacrosse is more than just a hobby—“I see it as my whole life,” she says. “Each time I step onto a field, whether it’s on concrete (where I picked up my first stick) or a grass field, I know I am where I belong. The feeling knowing the ball is secure in my stick, of the breeze blowing through my braids as I run on the field—that feeling is completely amazing.”
Recently committed to play Division II lacrosse after graduation, J remains focused on her studies in addition to practice. She hopes to study business management in college because, as she says, “I’m going to start a nonprofit organization just like CityLax so that I can give other kids the same opportunities that I have.”
Most importantly, J would like to thank the donors and volunteers of CityLax; “If it wasn’t for Citylax I wouldn’t be where I am today so I thank you for your leadership and support. It’s you who help us get one step closer to our goals and successful futures. I want you all to understand the importance and the impact that you have on each and every one of our lives.”
As for us at CityLax—we want to thank J for the dedication and passion she brings to every CityLax event. We can’t wait to see the impact that she continues to have on her own community throughout the rest of high school and eventually as the founder of her own nonprofit.
“Because of CityLax, I’ve met amazing teammates that are going to be my lifelong friends.”
Ella Braunstein is in the eleventh grade at the United Nations International School, or UNIS. A middie and attack player, she loves the fast pace of the game and the opportunities to run and score. Most importantly, though, she loves the community of lacrosse. “We didn’t have a lacrosse team at my high school, so I started playing for CityLax in the fall of my freshman year and now I’m also doing the winter clinics,” Ella explains. While she was a bit scared at first to join a team of mostly seniors, she says that she learned a lot from playing with her older teammates. “I’ve really enjoyed playing with CityLax—I’ve never had a bad teammate and all of my coaches have been amazing and just so supportive and motivational.”
At UNIS, Ella is fascinated by her science classes and is studying hard to go to college and eventually medical school. She says, “I want to be a doctor because I really like helping people and I really like biology, so I think being a doctor would be a good way to combine those two passions.” She is involved in a variety of after-school clubs, including OxFam, UNIS United Nations, and Girl Power, which have taught her a lot about nonprofits and how to create positive change in her community. She’s also planning to start a lacrosse club to bring her favorite sport to her colleagues. Ella explains, “Lacrosse is really important to me because it’s taught me how to be a team player. When I began playing in middle school, I started out as someone who really didn’t know how to play on a team or pass the ball, but now I’m confident in my teamwork skills. Because of CityLax, I’ve also met amazing teammates who are going to be my lifelong friends.” After graduation, she hopes to play ball at some level in college, but right now, she’s looking forward to reuniting with her fall teammates at the Manhattan Winter Clinics and continuing to develop her skills.