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December 23, 2010

This column by Clare Lochary appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

'Tis Better to Give, Especially for Women

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett instills in her players a spirit of giving back, a practice wise to emulate.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

The Karnofsky family knew a good thing when they saw it.

The Russian immigrants in 1907 hired the boy to help on their coal delivery and junk wagon routes, which wound through the New Orleans red light district. Instead of just shouting or ringing a bell to attract customers, the seven-year-old could coax music out of a 10-cent tin horn that was little more than a party noisemaker. Recognizing his talent, the family gave him an advance on his salary to buy a $5 coronet from a pawn shop. That was big money then, especially for people so poor they lived in the black section of town, but they figured it was a worthwhile investment.

It was. The boy was Louis Armstrong, who grew up to be one of the most influential figures in American music. Today there is an organization in New Orleans called the Karnofsky Project, which provides kids with musical instruments.

I first heard about Louis Armstrong and the Karnofsky family during a Jazz Appreciation class in college. I'm embarrassed to say I dropped the course because I'm so tone deaf I couldn't handle the listening exams, but it was one of the most formative classes I ever took. From a $5 loan, an entirely new, uniquely American genre of music bloomed forth. The professor encouraged us to donate to charity early and often, since you never know who the next Louis Armstrong might be, or how that person might change the face of the medium he works in.

I know at this time of year, there are many expenses and requests to give, but I want to ask you to consider donating to US Lacrosse, if you haven't already done so. About 64 percent of our operating budget comes from your (much-appreciated!) membership dues, but when you give more, it helps us jump-start new teams with equipment grants, and to do it properly, with support for safety and positive coaching.

It's particularly important for women to donate to causes they believe in. Even in the 21st century, girls participate in sports at a lower rate than boys, and we need to do everything we can to put sticks in all the eager little female hands out there. (If you want to target your dollars to women's lacrosse only, the U.S. women's national team is a good choice.) I admire what Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett has her team do. All the Quakers donate a small amount to the Penn program, and it doubles every year. ($2 as freshmen, $4 as sophomores, $8 as juniors, and $16 as seniors.) It gets young women in the habit of charitable giving early in life, which can pay dividends later.

"We need more women to give. I tell them, 'When your husband is giving, say, $5,000 to his sport, if your family can only give $5, it had better be split, because you gave just as much time as he did, and our kids deserve it just as much,'" Brower Corbett said. "They need to get that, and fight for that, and understand the importance of giving back."

Laxers are famously generous with their time and knowledge, because it makes us happy to share our game with others. If you can throw a little cash at the problem, too, it would be greatly appreciated. You can never tell who the next Jen Adams will be. The more resources the lacrosse community has, the better the chance that we'll find her.


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