Empowerment through Sport

By Tom Porter

Kendall Rogers ’21 has taken his passion for lacrosse to New York City for the summer. He’s volunteering with the nonprofit Harlem Lacrosse, which helps children who are academically at risk by inspiring them athletically.

Photo: Karsten Moran ’05

Varsity athlete Rogers, the recipient of a CXD Internship Award, is one of about a hundred Bowdoin students pursuing funded internships over the break. He said he chose to intern with Harlem Lacrosse because of the impact the group is having on students in cities across the country. 

“Throughout my twelve years of playing lacrosse, I have always been one of the few people of color on the team,” explained Rogers, a religion major. “Despite this,” he continued, “the sport has always shown potential to reach a more diverse population due to its Native American origins.” Rogers said he’s inspired by the way Harlem Lacrosse uses the sport to empower young people, raising not only their athletic ability, but academic results too. “It has been a rewarding experience to work with a team entirely composed of people of color and experience the sport grow.”

Working with girls and boys at the middle and high school levels, Rogers combines lacrosse instruction with academic tutoring and a summer learning institute. “This holistic approach allows for the middle school students to develop and gain admission to prep schools,” he said, “while the high school students work to get recruited to play lacrosse in college.” 

Over the summer Rogers has served as assistant program director at Public School 76 in Harlem and assistant coach for the high school club team. His responsibilities have included traveling with the high school team to recruiting tournaments, tutoring at the summer learning institute, and lacrosse instruction for middle school students. 

“The greatest thing I have learned through this experience is the importance of caring, and investing the effort in positively impacting these students. They reciprocate the effort that teachers and coaches give, which prompts them to excel.”

Rogers said all the students he has worked with have grown as athletes and scholars, “and they all have the chance to thrive in college and beyond.”