The Bridge Family represents a diverse group of kids, parents, coaches, volunteers and supporters. We each bring a unique perspective and background to this organization, but ultimately we all share the same belief that sports can be a powerful tool for good. These are the stories of twelve unique members of our family. Each week we will introduce a new member and their story about their life and connection to Bridge Lacrosse. These stories represent a favorite memory or moment, or even the whole experience of being a part of what we are building in the Dallas community. We want to thank our good friend, Sylvia Chavez, for joining us in Southern Dallas to shoot this incredibly special project for us. Thank you, Sylvia.
“I have been involved in Bridge Lacrosse since my freshman year at Hockaday. My older brother Jake was involved before me, and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join the Bridge Lacrosse Leadership Board. Bridge is about so much more than just lacrosse. It is truly a family in which so many come together to play lacrosse and learn from one another. It has been life changing for me to watch some of my players not only learn to compete on the lacrosse field but to grow into confident young ladies! Some of my favorite memories from Bridge are from the Fall Festival. Every year, this day is truly amazing because my players are able to showcase their skills not only to me and the other teams, but also to their families and friends who have come to support them. Occasionally, on this day if a game ends in a tie, the winner will be determined by a braveheart, 1v1 sudden death in overtime. There is one players and goalie on the field for each team and my team is cheering loud. There is always so much excitement and joy, but also our team is so united. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the experiences that I have had through Bridge, have taught me the true meaning of being a part of something great then myself. I would encourage anyone to become involved in Bridge in some capacity. It is an authentic win, win, win for the kids, coaches and community, and I have grown immeasurably from my four year association with Bridge Lacrosse!”
- KK Vaughn
DANIEL STECKLER | LEADERSHIP BOARD MEMBER
“My freshman year, I started coaching boys in elementary school through Bridge Lacrosse, a nonprofit lacrosse-based youth development program. I remember being a nervous freshman going to work at my first Bridge Lacrosse camp at the African-American Museum in Fair Park, in Dallas. At this camp, my first group of kids were wild 2nd graders. I had no control over them whatsoever. The hour went by very fast. Once it was over, David, the director of Bridge Lacrosse, assured me that the other camps would not be like this one. But I was unsure after that first day. When I made the decision to go back a second time, I never looked back. The next camp I attended was amazing! I had so much fun playing, and teaching these kids about lacrosse, a sport that I love so much. At that camp, I realized what Bridge Lacrosse was about--- It was not just teaching these kids how to play lacrosse, but to help them find a reason to come back the next day. I loved coaching, but I really enjoyed the players. They were eager to learn and passionate. But I soon discovered that many of these boys had far greater challenges than myself whether it was a single-family home, unemployed parents or challenges in school. This program provided a place to grow as a player, teammate and person. It provided structure and joy in learning something new and fun. I have continued to work with Bridge Lacrosse for the past four years and want to do so in the future. Through Bridge Lacrosse, I realized that I can be a person of impact and help others beyond just coaching but by being a mentor. As part of my high school leadership project, I began a program to collect used and un-used lacrosse equipment for the program from area schools and stores. Through this program, I have been able to connect more with the players beyond coaching but understand them and their life. I know that I can do more for them and for me. Bridge Lacrosse has helped me grow as a person in society, and as a leader in my community. It has allowed me to grow as a leader, vocally and by example. I am so grateful for the opportunity Bridge has provided me and the connections that I have made with players in the program. “
-Daniel Steckler | Leadership Board Member
ALICIA MARTINEZ | PARENT & BOARD MEMBER
Kristen is officially entering her 7th and last season as a Lady Panther with Bridge. The past 6-seasons have been full of my favorite memories. From watching Kristen play her first lacrosse game ever at the Hockaday Tournament her 6th grade year, to watching her score her first goal on Parish’s blue turf. My heart was full when my shy little 7th grader bravely took on The Naked Stage at Union Café to speak of what Bridge meant to her. Listening to the way the other players, coaches, and parents spoke of Bridge on stage was when I knew we were in this for the long haul; Bridge was now a part of our family and we were a part of the Bridge family. I cannot pin any one favorite memory, so I will share a few of my favorite:
Taylor Swift sing-alongs in the car, with her sisters, on the way to a game.
Joining team dinners and watching all the kids enjoy in each other’s company.
Wiping tears after a close loss of a game.
Hearing team chuckles after a game loss that was not even close.
Waving to an embarrassed daughter from the sidelines.
Making my “game day” blanket with my favorite player for those cold day games.
Hearing all about lacrosse camp and all the experiences she had.
Finding a costume for the Halloween practice that she can run around in.
The huge Bridge Family Picnic, that I look forward to every season.
Sharing photos online with other Bridge parents and being amazed how fast they grew since the last season.
These are the memories and many more that I will hold onto, and going into her last season as a Bridge Lady Panther I will make sure to soak in every single Ariana Grande song played to her next game, buy 10 extra mouthguards to keep on hand, and appreciate every moment as a Bridge mom. I am forever grateful for the experiences Bridge has given Kristen and for the memories Bridge has given our family.
- Alicia Martinez
COACH KYLE | EAGLES YOUTH
The Bridge Family means a lot to me. It is more than coaching a sport, it is growing youth into strong individuals that are going to take on life in the world we live in today. I believe in the mission of Bridge, that we are using lacrosse as a platform to teach our students much more than a game. As I look at my youth players at the beginning of the season, ages 8-12, I ask myself what will I teach them? As a lacrosse coach I will teach them to catch, throw, shoot, and other skills of the game. As a Bridge Coach I hope to teach them much more. I hope to teach them to be friends and have each other’s back on and off the field. I hope to teach them discipline, sportsmanship, personal responsibility, resiliency and grit. My hope as a bridge coach is that everything I teach them during their time with Bridge translates to their life outside of the lacrosse field. I have many choices when it come to coaching lacrosse. I choose the Bridge Family because I believe in its values of improving lives of the players and families that we serve.
- Coach Kyle Lamb
VALERIE | BRIDGE PANTHER STUDENT-ATHLETE
Hi, my name is Valerie. I am 10 years old and this is my second year as a Bridge player. I first found out about Bridge when my sister started playing in middle school, when I was a year and a half. My family says that I was always curious about lacrosse, being excited to go to games, picking up my sister’s extra stick every chance I got. I was always at Bridge events, and at all her games. I would spend my time with the coaches on the sidelines yelling random things I heard them say. Bridge coaches encouraged me to join and play when I got older. I was always asked when I was going to play, and when I would say later, they would respond, “only a few years left kiddo.” Look at me now, I am becoming a full-grown player.
Although many people know my sister, I am trying to make a name for myself, she always pushes me to do better and reminds me it is important to have fun. I remember getting to pass a lot with her, when we had free time. I always had the dream of being just like her. I wanted to go to the same high school and middle school, play the same sport, have the same hair and like the same singer. She was my main role model above anyone else, even if it was versus Selena Gomez herself. Although I had to wait a lot more years until I could officially play lacrosse, I at least kept on getting ready for the upcoming years. Until one day my sister told me that Bridge had a third through fifth grade team. I was super pumped and ready to begin. Which that leads up to today, where I am a happy and proud Bridge player!
Valerie | Panthers 3/5