How WINNERS Lacrosse is Bringing the Sport to Inner City DC Youth

By Melissa Wickes
April 5, 2022
2 min

We’re extremely lucky to have a community of amazing sports-based youth development organizations that we get to work with and learn from everyday as part of our FundPlay program. FundPlay is our opportunity to give back to underserved communities by increasing access to youth sports programs through annual technology grants and other support. 

This week, we’re highlighting a FundPlay partner that is near and dear to our hearts for all of the amazing things they do for the youth sports community in the DC area through the sport of lacrosse: WINNERS Lacrosse.

Who is WINNERS Lacrosse?

WINNERS Lacrosse is a nonprofit sports-based youth development organization that offers programs year round to children ages 5 to 14 in the DC area. Their mission is to instill character skills in young athletes through the game of lacrosse in a safe and fun environment. All programs are free of charge to participants and all necessary equipment is provided, which eliminates the barrier of cost for many families.

Lacrosse has been one of the fastest growing team sports in the US over the last decade, but is not as accessible in DC as other parts of the country. Since 2000, WINNERS has introduced the game of lacrosse to over 10,000 inner city, DC youth and has seen over 50 alumni go on to play high school and college lacrosse. Over the last five years, lacrosse has become the fastest growing sport at the NCAA level, so increasing youth access and participation in lacrosse is another bridge toward getting more inner city youth to college. 

We spoke with WINNERS Lacrosse Director of Communications and Operations, Zhané Ruffin, about her work at WINNERS and what it has meant to her over the years. 

“I love that I am able to help provide kids with a fun lacrosse experience for absolutely no cost to our families,” says Zhané. “The time I take each day/week to go out on the field and coach the kids or put together our programs, I know it is creating such a positive impact on our community and our kids!”

Zhane says she inspired to get out on the field everyday when she sees how kids are improving each day—whether it’s learning to catch, learning to run fast with the ball, or making a new friend. WINNERS helps kids build confidence through sport which is something that not only helped them get through difficult times during COVID, but continues to make a positive impact on them each day.

You can learn a little bit more about WINNERS Lacrosse in our FundPlay video below:

How You Can Support WINNERS Lacrosse

WINNERS is one of the many amazing FundPlay partners we believe is positively impacting the youth sports world today. To support this incredible organization, and all of the kids that benefit from it, you can make a donation here.

To learn more about our FundPlay program or nominate an exceptional organization for a grant, click here.