Hours before the new 12,000-seat indoor field in suburban Dallas hosts its first lacrosse game, area youth take part in a Xerox-sponsored clinic.

Players from Bridge Lacrosse—a sports-based youth development nonprofit, in Dallas, Texas—were in the heart of their spring season on Feb. 18, so they didn’t really need to participate in the lacrosse clinic Xerox sponsored that day. But many really wanted to—because it was a special day.

Xerox Bridge Lacrosse Clinic Players Offer a Stick Salute

Bridge Lacrosse players offer a stick salute during their clinic at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco prior to the Patriot Cup games.

The morning clinic kicked off the 2017 Patriot Cup, the marquee event of Texas lacrosse, featuring five games among top national collegiate teams and top area high school teams. Further, for the first time in the Patriot Cup’s 11-year history, the event was held at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas, the six-months-old, state-of-the-art, 12,000-seat indoor facility shared by the city of Frisco, its high schools and the area’s professional football team. And if that wasn’t enough, The Patriot Cup was the first lacrosse game ever played there.

So about 70 Bridge players decided to spend their Saturday morning taking part in the clinic led by two-dozen volunteer Bridge coaches and Xerox executives. And by all accounts, they were glad they did. “Being able to play at this facility was amazing,” said one clinic participant. “Not everyone gets to do that.”

“The kids are absolutely ecstatic about this opportunity, and their parents are, too,” said David Higbee, executive director, Bridge Lacrosse. “Being on that field is a monumental experience for most of them.”

Lacrosse Grows in Texas

“Texas” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when talking lacrosse. “Lacrosse is definitely an outsider’s sport here, but it’s growing pretty quickly,” Higbee said. Bridge offers its year-round lacrosse program to third to 12th grade boys and sixth to 12th grade girls from the southern Dallas area, where many are under-resourced.

Bridge Lacrosse players get tips from a volunteer coach.

Bridge clinic players get tips from a volunteer coach.

The 70 Bridge clinic participants also received tickets to the Patriot Cup games. “I liked that we got to watch a college lacrosse game, where I could see how the things I learn at practice actually come into play,” said one Bridge member. Another had her eye on the future: “It was fun because I got to see how the game is played at a college level, so if I decide to play in college I will know the speed of the game.”

Higbee said his organization regularly brings its young lacrosse players to the Patriot Cup, but that this was the first year they’ve had a clinic to kick off the event. “Xerox suggested holding the clinic, and it wouldn’t have happened without them,” he said. “We’re extremely grateful.”

Good for Youth, Community and Business

Xerox Bridge Lax Clinic Wide View of Arena & Action

“Being able to play at this facility was amazing,” said a Bridge Lacrosse clinic participant.

“Xerox believes that investing in our youth is good for them, good for our community and good for business,” said Mike Zimmer, president of the U.S. Enterprise Unit at Xerox. “And as a Northeasterner who grew up around the sport of lacrosse, I’m thrilled that my company can help make a memorable experience for Dallas youngsters who are pioneering the sport in their region.”

Higbee points out that being a pioneer has its upside. “Because it’s a small community, it has a family feel,” he said. “And there are a lot of anecdotes about a rich tradition of lacrosse players making connections in unexpected places. That’s what we tell our kids.”

And now the Bridge players have their own anecdotes about being on the field the first day a lacrosse game was ever played at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas.