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Men’s Charity Game September 3rd

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Want to enjoy your favorite sport on the lake front while supporting our mission? Ok great, then come on out to the Era Sports Charity Game on September 3rd! We’d like to thank Pete Fitzgerald, Era Sports, and Beers Lacrosse Club for organizing this amazing event!


$5 fee, Online registration closes Sept 1.
Register online

Min $25 donation payable direct to OWLS

OWLS Online Donation

On-site registration is $50 donation to OWLS


Up2Us/Americorps Coach Position Available Now at OWLS

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OWLS Up2Us Assistant Coach

OWLS creates opportunity for Chicago’s most at-risk youth through scholarship, service, and the sport of lacrosse. Using inner-city schools and community centers as an access point we provide:

  1. Scholarship access for high school and college
  2. Service-learning projects to support the communities we serve
  3. Lacrosse programming within a sports-based youth development model

Ultimately, seasoned OWLS participants achieve in the classroom as well as on the field, and explore educational and economic options past the high school setting. OWLS currently serves over 150 at-risk youth at six school sites and four park district locations in Chicago. 99.4% of our participants identify as Black/Hispanic/Multi-Racial and 90% of our students live in low-income households.

OWLS is partnering with the Up2Us/Americorps mission to inspire youth to achieve their potential by providing them coaches who are trained in positive youth development. The Up2Us Coach will assist our Program Director, providing program support and directly mentoring, coaching, and tutoring students throughout the year. The position is ideal for a college student or recent graduate who is eager to gain experience in sports-based youth development and education.

Responsibilities include:

  •  Assisting the Program Director during practice 2 times per week after school during the fall and spring season, occasionally leading drills and activities;
  •  Assisting the Program Director during “Lunchtime Lax” learn to play clinics 1-2 times per week during the fall and winter season, occasionally leading drills and activities;
  •  Collaborating with the Program Director to plan practices;
  • Support OWLS site managers in all logistics and administrative tasks related to youth programs (grades 3-8) [includes equipment management, data entry, filing, family communication].
  • Providing academic and social-emotional support to students during the school day (in school hours are flexible and can accommodate other positions or obligations as needed) and after school.


Ideal Up2Us Coach candidates should be able to coach independently set appropriate goals and expectations not only for players, but also for themselves. Our participants are generally very energetic and possess a multitude of personalities, learning styles and emotional differences.

  •    Lacrosse experience as a player or coach is preferred, but is not mandatory.
  •    Basic proficiency in Excel/Word is a plus, but not required.
  •    Consent to a nationwide criminal background check is required.


  •    Living stipend of $7,770.00
  •    End of service education award of $2,685.00 furnished by AmeriCorps
  •    Training workshops throughout the year from Up2Us and OWLS Lacrosse.

Available: August 2017

Appointment: 12 months, 20 hrs/week

To Apply:

Send a cover letter and resume with “OWLS Up2Us Coach” and your name in the subject heading to our Executive Director, Sam Angelotta ( Finalists for the position must also complete an application through Up2Us to be selected.

OWLS Lacrosse is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit entity ◆ 1772 W Ainslie St, Chicago IL 60640 ◆ ◆

Sliding Towards Success in Chicago, by Taylor Harris

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For the current generation, watching TV is a vastly different experience now than it once was. Years ago, families would sit in front of the TV, and “flip” through the channels and decide on something to watch. The family came together and communicated during TV commercials, enjoying their shared experience. As a teenager in the 90’s, I recall coming together around a TV show called Sliders, where a group of people traveled to similar (but alternate) realities solving problems, avoiding catastrophes, and trying not to interfere in that reality’s course of events. It’s an interesting concept to ponder, and one I want to consider more as it relates to the influence lacrosse can have in people’s lives.  What would life be like if certain things went differently? How can the game of lacrosse transform people’s reality, and help avoid alternate catastrophes?

To help me answer this question, let me quickly share two personal “a-ha” stories from a rural backyard in northern Virginia. As a young boy who had challenges in and out of the classroom, and was often told that I had attention and hyperactivity issues, I was in desperate need of an outlet. Thankfully, my older brother Jake started playing high school lacrosse, and brought home all the lessons he learned at practice. Lacrosse was new, fun, unique, and most importantly- a way we could spend quality time together. Jake was an excellent teacher, and one of the best lessons he taught me was to practice with my left hand more than my right, so that I could use both hands equally well. My first lacrosse life lesson: improve your weaknesses until they are your strengths.

My younger sister’s entrance to the game soon followed. We came home and worked together on the net in our backyard, just as Jake and I had done before. Starting with tennis balls at first, and then progressing to lacrosse balls later, Amelia soon blossomed into an exceptional goalie with lightning fast reactions, and an edge that demanded respect. I recall vividly attending her first recreational game- the one where she let in 13+ goals. After the game, I asked her what went wrong out there. She simply replied, “The balls were going too slow.” I immediately thought of the valuable lesson my brother taught me, and smiled as I realized my sister was learning the same lesson. My second lacrosse life lesson: skills and life lessons can be passed amongst others through lacrosse.

By merely playing lacrosse with my siblings, two critically important life lessons were given room to grow in my psyche. This is the beauty of sport- it can reinforce valuable lessons that are being taught in the classroom or at home. And sometimes, in the most brilliant of ways, sport can actually introduce valuable life lessons that can be applied to other settings. Concepts like teamwork, confidence, and sacrifice all are organic to sport, but not always in our everyday lives. Returning to the aforementioned Sliders TV show from above, imagine if we could wholesale life lessons across contrasting realities through sport. Would such a transfer always have a positive result, or could it cause a disturbance?

This is the question we seek to grapple at OWLS (Outreach With Lacrosse and Schools). In 2016 there were 779 homicides and over 4,000 shooting victims in the city of Chicago. Since 2011, OWLS has established 5 project sites in the heart of these embattled neighborhoods, providing a positive option for hundreds of at-risk youth through academic enrichment, service-learning, and the sport of lacrosse. Using lacrosse as the medium through which we “slide” across cultural and socio-economic demographics, we aim to instill valuable life lessons in our participants that will enrich their lives. We feel that by using sport as our interactive medium, these life lessons can be absorbed more organically by our participants, rather than using a more direct head-on approach. And while our efforts have yielded amazing success stories over the past several years of operation, there are certainly areas that have given rise to pause and reflection.

The notion of “plugging and playing” might be commonplace to the world of tech, but we should be cautious when trying to use this term in the human domain. Life lessons have attachments and experiences and viewpoints native to the individual; and are lost when attempts are made to relay to others with differing experiences, viewpoints, etc. We have experienced this hardship first hand in the sports based youth development arena. Children of varying backgrounds and experiences view our messaging differently as they individually process our programming themes. Through this discovery process, we’ve learned some best practices on how to connect with our participant base, and maximize each individual’s potential growth and development. We’ve learned that as we “slide” across various differing contexts, we need to first take time to understand our environment fully, and then recognize what accommodations need to be made in order to provide the most fertile growth environment possible.

Organizations like OWLS, who have been actively practicing this “sliding” and discovering loop for some time, are on the forefront of advancing optimal practices and procedures for our participant demographic. Serving the communities of violence-torn Chicago through the game of lacrosse has taken tremendous personal commitment, drive, resiliency, and dedication across the years. And as Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” OWLS aims to achieve continued success in enriching the lives of our participant base, by embracing the struggle of transferring valuable life lessons and skills through the game of lacrosse.

So when we seek to answer the question if there are both positive and negative implications of sliding life lessons and skills from one reality to another, it seems the answer resembles more of a symbiotic relationship than a simple “yes or no.” Whereas lessons are ported from one area to another, both the lesson bearer and receiver seem to have influence on the final product. As this iterative process repeats itself over several practices per week, and several months of training per year, organizations such as OWLS develop a keen understanding, or systems learning, of the problems we face and solutions to implement. The systematic issues that face our participant base are complex and vast, and the barriers of entry to lacrosse that exist in Chicago are equally voluminous. But we are thankful that our participants have imparted great life lessons and skills on us over the years, just as we have in them. For without these valuable lessons, we’d miss improving upon our OWLS experience.

And so as we look to continue our efforts in “sliding” valuable life lessons and skills to future generations of Chicago children through lacrosse, we accept that traveling across the various cultural and socio-economic realities will have ripple effects that reverberate in both progressive and reflective directions. This is the cost of doing business in the world of sports based youth development- you must open your vault of valued life lessons and skills and allow for new entries to be stored, just the same as we ask of our participants. This symbiotic system of growth and change does not occur quickly- instead it is the result of weekly tactical victories that ultimately lead to large scale operational wins.

And so who are the “sliders” of OWLS? We seem to have played the role of coach, mentor, parental-figure, friend, clinician, researcher, life coach, and vault owner. But as we soldier on into the future, our proudest moments don’t come from the personas we assume, but rather the amazing young people we interact with as we slide across our Chicago realities.

Taylor Harris currently serves as the League Director and Director of Coaches/Officials Training for OWLS. Prior to joining OWLS, Taylor worked on the nationally recognized collegiate lacrosse staffs at Northwestern University (women) and Tufts University (men). Taylor also served six years in the United States Marine Corps as both an intelligence officer and scout sniper platoon commander. In those six years he deployed three times, once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). He played collegiately at the United States Naval Academy from 2003-2006, and is originally from Clifton, Virginia. Taylor holds a Master’s in Education in Physical Education and Coaching from Boston University, and currently works in the Special Education department at a Noble Network charter school in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

Spring Storyboard Photos…and Get in on Golf.

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OWLS Family,

We’ve really been making an impact this year, but don’t take my word for it…


We hope that in August you can join us at the Inaugural “Links for Lax” Charity Golf Outing! The event will be held at Harborside International GC, just minutes from the Chicago Loop. Harborside offers the premier golf experience in the Chicagoland area and all proceeds benefit OWLS inner-city school lacrosse programs!

Thank you for your continued support,
Sam Angelotta
OWLS Executive Director



Meet the OWLS League Programs & Week 1 Recap

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A few years ago we started the OWLS Lacrosse League (OLL) in an effort to support inter-scholastic play for our school-based programs. Since 2012, the league has grown tremendously from three small middle school teams to six fully stocked teams, an elementary outdoor box lacrosse program, officials training for OWLS high school participants, and a series of girls clinics.

Meet the OWLS Lacrosse League Programs: CLICK HERE

All in all we will provide programming to 150 Chicago youth this spring under the guidance of 30+ volunteers! While the league has expanded, the focus remains the same: sportsmanship, FUN-damental play, and community building.

Last week we had our first day of games for the OLL, and we would like to thank all of our participants, volunteers and families for creating an incredible atmosphere and experience!

CLICK HERE for Week 1 Photos

Final Scores

LTAC                 11

Willa Cather     2


St. Ann               9

Berwyn              6


St. Malachy      6

CJA                    4


Tierra is Learning the Rules, and Changing the Game for OWLS

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Our mission is to create opportunity for Chicago’s youth through the sport of lacrosse. Playing the game is the highlight of our programming, but at the same time a hook for academic support, enrichment, service-learning, career readiness and more. Tierra Martin (age 16) has been a participant in our programs since fifth grade, and has time after time turned challenges into opportunity. Tierra was a quiet fourth grader who struggled in almost every subject. Flash forward to present-day she is an honor roll student at Christ the King College Prep, and the lowest grade on her last report card was a ‘B’. As a middle school student she became frustrated with the limited options for girls programming, and approached us with a question: “Can I play with the boys team?”. She did so and not only became an integral part of a team that won our league, but also paved the way for several girls to follow in her footsteps in the years following…

Tierra (#4) on the Middle School Team at OWLS St. Malachy.

Like many city schools, Tierra’s current high school does not offer lacrosse. However she has stayed actively engaged in OWLS through volunteering, playing with our new community based “Academy”, and now training to be an official! Recently we partnered with Great Lakes Lacrosse Officials Association (GLLOA) to provide training for select OWLS High School students. This past weekend Tierra and her classmates went through over 16 hours of intensive officials training at Hoffman Estates High School. Through the GLLOA training program she is learning comprehensive official’s protocol, and on track to becoming a licensed official in Illinois. Students in the OWLS Officials Training Program (three students currently) will be provided with invaluable leadership skills, a trade that will provide economic return, and a reciprocal role in our organization that younger participants can model.

The GLLOA program includes intensive classroom and on-field training!

We are so proud of participants like Tierra, and grateful for community partners like the GLLOA. They are helping make the goals of our mission a reality. We would also be remiss not to mention the support of Tierra’s Mother (Terra) for her constant support. Terra works night shifts at the County Sheriff’s Department, and this past Saturday and Sunday she used her time-off taking Tierra an hour each way to the training. The good news is now she wants to be an official too! We love our OWLS Family!

Tiana (little sister), Terra (mother) and Tierra.

Night Owl 2017 Raises 30K for OWLS Inner-city Lacrosse Programs

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On Thursday, January 26th over 150 members of the community came out to support our inaugural “Night Owl” fundraiser at Low Res Studio in West Town. The goal of the evening was to strengthen and celebrate Chicago, and we smashed it! We enjoyed local food and music, examined issues facing Chicago’s inner-city youth, connected Chicagoans through the OWLS mission, and raised over $30,000 to support our sports based youth development programs!

The impact is real and will transform lives, and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone that supported the event. In addition to the individuals, families, teams, organizations, and program participants in attendance; we would like to thank our event sponsors: Target Data Corp., Antares Capital, Lax Shop, Solemn Oath, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Nonni’s Foods, KPMG, Cocktail Courier, and Atlas. Finally, we must give a special shoutout to our Associate Board members for making the dream of Night Owl a reality!  To keep in touch with our upcoming events and mission-based programming please stay tuned to the OWLS Blog, newsletter, and social media outlets (twitter/ig @owlslax, In the meantime, enjoy (and share) these amazing event photos courtesy of Rebecca Peplinski photography!

Yours in Lacrosse,

Sam Angelotta, OWLS Founder

OWLS Train with Army Vet at Parisi Speed School

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Last week we  we trained at Parisi Speed School with former US Army drill instructor Brennan Cox. After his college baseball career was over, Brennan joined the United States Army. He graduated with honors earning the award for Top Physical Fitness in his graduating battalion (over 200 soldiers). In addition to his duties as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, Brennan served as his unit’s Fitness Coordinator. This is where his passion for training began. Brennan was responsible for training soldiers who had trouble with weight control and/or passing the Army Physical Fitness Test, and getting them fit to fight.Brennan is one of the lead trainers at Parisi Speed School. Parisi seeks to empower America’s youth through increased fitness, confidence and performance.

We piled our two year round programs St. Malachy and Willa Cather onto a bus after school and headed over to the Speed School gym. On the bus ride we got in the zone with healthy snacks and low cal gatorades…

We arrived and got right to work! Our students learned comprehensive techniques for acceleration and deceleration, gained knowledge of important life skills, and had a great time doing it!

Special thanks to Parisi Speed School and their staff for literally helping us strengthen our winter multi-sport program!

-Sam Angelotta, OWLS Founder

Night Owl Silent Auction Preview #2: Island Getaway

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Next Thursday January 26th, 2017 we will be hosting our inaugural Night Owl fundraiser, and we have an amazing silent auction on tap. Today we are featuring the “big timer” item: Palm Vista….a very special thank you to our Associate Board Chair Ellis Krienik (and family) for making this happen!

Trip Advisor’s “Best Villa Rental” Award for 3 years in a row, plus, Luxury Retreats International rated Palm Vista as one of the “top 10 view villas in the world”!  Palm Vista is one of the few villas on St John that offers sunrise AND sunset views. The 3 bedroom suites have en-suite baths and can accommodate up to 6 guests. Pictures and additional info available here: (availability: June 1st – October 31st, 2017)

If this is not for you we will have a plethora of options for all (cooking classes, sports tickets and memorabilia, fitness packages etc) We hope you can join us for an incredible evening that will both strengthen and celebrate Chicago…

Link to tickets and detailed event info: