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.
COACH DAVID | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
After eight years overseeing this organization, it’s hard to point to one particular memory that stands out to me. I’ve got a catalog of incredible moments within Bridge that I reflect on every day. But, none of these memories would have ever occurred if not for one person, Edie Lycke, our founder, a friend and mentor.
When I first arrived in Dallas more than a decade ago, I stumbled upon Bridge as a young start-up nonprofit. Attracted to the mission and an opportunity to get involved within a community-centered organization, I began coaching and working with some amazing people who clearly believed in the sport of lacrosse as a tool for kids. At the head of it all, was Edie Lycke. To this day, I still remember her relentless passion for Bridge and the many little things that she did behind the scenes to support the kids in the program. She made herself always present and available to the kids at St. Philip’s and Irma Rangel, and I watched how important those relationships were to her and how she maintained and fostered each of them. Edie was everywhere for this organization and no role was too small for her, from her fundraising prowess to slicing oranges for after-school snacks. It was inspiring to watch and be a part of those early days of Bridge.
When the opportunity opened up for me to take over the leadership of Bridge, Edie was there to help in the transition but ultimately handed me the keys to the organization that she had founded. It was a gesture and chapter of Bridge that I still recall, and I would wonder how anyone could fill the shoes of Edie. I’ll never understand how Edie had so much faith in me to step into the position, especially given my lack of experience, but I’m forever grateful that she and the rest of the board gave me that shot. While she would always make herself available to me for guidance and advice, she let me push Bridge in new ways and allowed me to develop my own culture ad plans for where I thought Bridge should go.
Fast forward to today, and Edie’s legacy still lives within our organization. She built a foundation of relationships and core beliefs that we continue to build upon. And, while many things have changed within Bridge and our services and programs have expanded, we still believe and carry the mission that she pursued more than a decade ago. Edie and her husband have recently moved to California where she’ll be dearly missed. But, I’m confident that we can all continue the work that she so diligently and passionately started.
David Higbee | Executive Director
COACH MADDIE | VARSITY PANTHERS
My first encounter with Bridge was in 2004. I was walking to the bus after school when I saw some girls holding weird sticks to throw a yellow ball back and forth. A friend told me the sport was called lacrosse and that there was still time to join. So, the next day I joined the team and little did I know, that that decision would change my life. I met many inspirational people, I was forced to try new things, and I had the opportunity to practice my leadership skills as captain. My time on the team taught me that the points may say you lost, but you can find a win if you look for it.
It only made sense to go back to an organization that impacted my life in such a drastic and positive way. After interning for Bridge during college, I fell in love with the impact Bridge has on youth around the Dallas area. Kids are offered awesome opportunities and I was sure that I wanted to be a part of it. Flash forward, I just completed my fourth year as a coach for Bridge. Coaching for Bridge has been an honor and I am incredibly grateful to help our Varsity Bridge Panthers grow. I hope to have taught them a fraction of what they have taught me.
This season I emphasized a word to the team. Intent. We have purpose behind what we do. We give our all. We never give up. We play all the way. We stay hype. We are a team. We are a family.
Coach Maddie Nayfa | Varsity Panthers
KRISTEN | PANTHER STUDENT-ATHLETE
One of my favorite memories with Bridge is at one of the end of the season picnics a few years ago. I was still relatively new to Bridge so I stayed with my sister for the start of the picnic. As the picnic went on I was encouraged by my teammates to join them with the other players. I used to be pretty shy around people I don’t know and I still am sometimes so was nervous about meeting all these new people who had been playing longer and were probably better than me. But when we got to the players they welcomed me by making room for me to sit in the huddle and continued telling stories about our wins and failures of the season as if I had belonged. As we went around each telling a story we were interrupted by Coach David announcing to everyone that we were all going to play in one huge game, except that girls and boys were going to be switching gear. It was gross and smelly and I have never felt as good as I did when I took off that helmet, but it was also one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. I remember I fell a lot but every time I did one of my teammates was there to help me up. I don’t remember how the game ended but I do recall just feeling so happy that I came and decided to get a little out of my comfort zone by talking to the players I hadn’t met before. I just needed a little push and a lot of support from my team to realize my own potential in just how social I could be. I still talk to the people that I first made friends with at this picnic. This day means a lot to me because it made me promise myself to be more bold and outgoing and put myself in more situations where I’m a little uncomfortable, because that’s how I’m going to get better at them. Overall it was just one of those days you know you’ll always remember.
Kristen H | Panther Student-Athlete
CHRIS CREEDON | BOARD OF DIRECTORS
It was the Spring of 2008 and our 3rd and 4th grade boys had made one food and two restroom stops on the trek from McKinney down to St. Philip’s School. While it may have seemed like an all-day journey, little did I realize it would turn into a decade long relationship that still seems like it is only just beginning.
Jack Tierney and I met at mid-field as balls were flying in every direction. Our bantam teams were new and skills very raw. What the teams lacked in basics, they made up for in personality. Jack described the program Edie Lycke had founded and they were in the process of building. A pretty simply concept, right? Give kids in urban Dallas the opportunity to play lacrosse, a sport rooted in selective, suburban lifestyle. With that opportunity, the idea was the sky is the limit as to what other opportunities may exist through after school and off-season programs, not to mention the relationship possibilities as the sport quickly gained popularity across the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Jack suggested I meet with Edie after I expressed interest in getting involved with Bridge. There was no ‘selling’ required as Edie’s passion and vision were as persuasive as each and every player decked out in Saints red, white and blue that Saturday morning at St. Philip’s. Jack and I ended up blending teams that morning, and on the ride home my son, Jack, told me that was the most fun he’s ever had playing lacrosse. I’m not sure he really understood why – or maybe he did.
Shortly thereafter, I joined the Bridge board while working with fellow McKinney board members to provide annual support for Bridge through tournament proceeds and other donations. Truth be told, it never felt like enough. Edie successfully passed the baton to David Higbee, who has been on a relentless quest for nearly a decade to best support the under-served. After school programming, summer camps, leadership council for high schoolers looking to make a difference, grant writing, fund raising…… the list goes on and on and he’s done an absolutely incredible job building Bridge into what it is today. The measured results are on the Bridge website. Looking a little further into the eyes of the players over the years like Wes, Kevin, Jeremy and Kristen as they’ve grown up with Bridge, you cannot help but understand the value and impact it has created on their lives; value equally enjoyed by the tireless efforts of those like Coaches Maddie and Jason.
The Bridge community – student-athletes, families, coaches, volunteers, and supporters - is a special group and all that it takes to get a small taste is to spend 30 minutes with David over coffee, attend a weeknight girls or boys game, or simply visit bridgelacrossedallas.org. All reflect the wonderful work and dedication of those that for more than a decade have made the decision to make a difference. And now, what is truly exciting is that high schoolers from throughout the metroplex have an opportunity to gain as much benefit as the players and families of Bridge. The Bridge Leadership Board provides training, coaching and entrepreneurship opportunities for those with the vision of making a difference in our communities. It’s an experience each member will never forget, and often one that shapes their approach to success in all facets of life. No matter how much time and effort you’re able to dedicate, how much support you can provide, you will always feel welcome and know you’re impacting the lives of those who need and appreciate it.
Chris Creedon | Board of Directors
QAADIR | EAGLE STUDENT-ATHLETE
Ever since I was a baby people have thought that I looked like an athlete. They tell me how I used to walk around with my chest out as a three year old, and they knew then that I was going to be an athlete when I grew up. Little did anyone know that I would end up playing lacrosse. I was fortunate enough to go to a private school where lacrosse was one of the sports offered. So since I like trying new things, I asked about the sport and soon I was signed up. Mind you, I was in the third grade and this was my first time ever hearing about the sport. Anyone that plays lacrosse knows that it is a challenging game. The first few practices we learned ground balls and cradling. As you would think for anyone coming into a new sport, it was hard. I started to go to practice frequently, and eventually I could finally hold the ball in my stick without it dropping. I was definitely making progress, but nowhere near where I needed to be.
We were about to have our first game and I was shivering in my boots. I was nervous because I didn't want to mess up and humiliate myself. I was on the bench at the beginning, but then Coach Jason said, “Your turn. Go out there and do your best.” I had mixed emotions. I was excited, but scared at the same time. Coach put me at mid-field. One of my teammates named Jayden won the faceoff and I just ran down the field calling for the ball. Jayden took the shot, but it bounced and he missed the goal. So I chased after the ball and we got the possession. I ran around “X”, like super far around “X” and I shot. The goalie caught the ball, but some lucky how he dropped it and it went into the goal. My entire team lit up with excitement. We ended up winning the game. After I scored my first goal I was the most confident person there was. I walked away that day with my first goal and my first win. I would go on to score many more goals.
Now I am in the eighth grade and I am no longer shivering in my boots. I conquer all obstacles that come my way in lacrosse and in life. I have goals I want to set while playing the sport. My main goal is to play college lacrosse. I hope to get an academic scholarship along with an athletic scholarship in lacrosse. Bridge Lacrosse has really helped me as an athlete. The skills and character building I’ve learned with them has helped me in other sports as well. As a team member they have especially helped me with my social skills. I would like to say that Bridge has set me on my path to greatness. Now I just have to use everything they have given me. Thank you Bridge.
Qaadir | Eagles Student-Athlete
KK VAUGHN | LEADERSHIP BOARD MEMBER
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 | Leadership Board Member
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 OF DIRECTORS
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 | Bridge Parent and Board of Directors
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 | 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 | Panther Student-Athlete