Syracuse University Magazine

lacrosse.jpgPhoto courtesy of Shari Appollon

Shari Appollon ā€™07

Bringing Girls’ Lacrosse to Brooklyn

Lacrosse may not be the most popular sport in Brooklyn right now, but Shari Appollon is working hard to change that. “Ninety percent of people in Brooklyn don’t know what lacrosse is,” says Appollon, a former Syracuse Orange defender who serves as director of the girls’ program for the Brooklyn Lacrosse Club. 

When the nonprofit organization formed in 2012, Appollon was the only female at the first organizational meeting and lobbied for the club to include a girls’ program. In the club’s first season, 100 girls signed up to learn the game. There are now more than 160 players and the numbers are growing. “The guys didn’t know how to play girls’ lacrosse, which is a completely different game,” says Appollon, who credits a New York Times article for giving the club immediate visibility and bringing in much-needed volunteers to help run the program. “Word spread really fast—the timing was perfect.”

A first-generation American whose parents came from Haiti, Appollon first picked up a lacrosse stick in high school as a way to make friends after her family moved frequently and she yearned to be part of a group. “I was fortunate because there was a buddy system and upperclassmen took the younger players under their wing,” she says. She became a star player and, with the assistance of her guidance counselor, was recruited to join the Syracuse lacrosse team. “I loved my time at Syracuse,” says Appollon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from what is now the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “I got the full SU experience—my Intro to Social Work class grabbed me right away and with an internship at Ed Smith Elementary School, I got hands-on experience. It was fantastic and prepared me for the real world.”

It was her Syracuse University lacrosse connection that landed Appollon a coveted spot as a player/coach at the Timperley Sports Club in Manchester, England, after graduation. While there, she led the senior women’s team to two undefeated seasons and two league championships. “Syracuse lacrosse’s cred is so good in England,” says Appollon, who was amazed by the sport’s popularity in the United Kingdom during the two years she spent there. “I was selected just because I was a Syracuse lacrosse alum.” After returning to the States, she earned a master’s degree in social work from Stony Brook University-Manhattan. A licensed social worker, she was recently promoted to clinical coordinator for the homeless outreach team at BronxWorks, a human service organization and settlement house based in The Bronx. “We engage chronically street-homeless adults and provide them with case management services toward stabilization and permanent housing,” says Appollon, who supervises a team of five case managers.

Appollon’s involvement with the lacrosse club is a natural extension of her career dedicated to helping others. “Our goal for the club is to break down barriers and teach life lessons,” she says. “Our players get physically active and build a healthy lifestyle. The skills and discipline they learn on the playing field help them become familiar with civic engagement, so they can be leaders in their communities later in life.” Passionate about the program, Appollon spends much of her free time promoting the club, recruiting volunteers, handing out flyers, and speaking to community organizations. The club was also featured in a commercial during the 2014 Men’s World Lacrosse Championships. She hopes to someday bring her Brooklyn girls to Syracuse and introduce them to her alma mater. “This is my way of saying thank you for the experiences I’ve had that shaped my life,” Appollon says. “I’m grateful that I can have a positive impact on the lives of others.” —Paula Meseroll