The Brooklyn Crescents’ Jen Nardi

Jen grew up in Nyack, NY (Rockland County) and as a youth played a variety of sports. As a child she was among the first class of girls that played in little league baseball with the boys and also played youth soccer and softball. As she got older (middle school/HS) Jen played basketball, field hockey and lacrosse and was fortunate to be recruited collegiately and given a scholarship to play lacrosse at UMass Amherst.

Any memories of playing sports while you were growing up?

Sports have been and continue to be one of the most significant and defining pieces of my life. Most of my childhood memories involve sports of some sort.

The Crescents have been around for 13 years. What makes the organization special?

What makes the Crescents different is that we stand firm in our commitment to grow the game of lacrosse and make it accessible to everyone and you see that in the diversity of our program. We run 5-10 free clinics each year throughout the boroughs, you don’t see any other program doing that. We also refer to ourselves as a family and when you play with us, it does not take long to understand why. It is a fun and supportive atmosphere for kids and their families. We are also one of the only programs that offer the same opportunities for both boys and girls.

How many kids does the Crescents serve?

We have more than 300 kids playing with us in any given season. The Crescents serve a very diverse population. We have children from all parts of Brooklyn, Staten Island and even Manhattan. Our players come from very diverse socio-economic backgrounds and in 13 years (since inception) we have never turned a child away for financial reasons.

The Crescents have a new adaptive program. Tell us about it and how it got started.

The program is firmly committed to providing opportunities for ALL children to play the game. We had hoped to provide adaptive programming for a while now, but a recent conversation that one of our families had with one of the founders of the club, expressing that she had two children (one of whom plays for us) and how wished the opportunity existed for her other child to play and how difficult it is to find outdoor activities for her child with special needs. Well, we sprung to action. I have been lucky enough to participate on a Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee for US Lacrosse, and have participated in several learning opportunities of the past few years, so I feel that we are ready to provide this opportunity.

What about Brooklyn Crescents makes you the proudest?

I love looking out on the field and seeing the diversity of the kids playing together. They have no idea how much or little the other has, they are just there to play lacrosse.

You must have lots of great stories from your years working with kids. Tell us about one that inspired you.

My first year with The Crescents we ran a free clinic in Brooklyn at a local school. 99% of the kids had never seen or heard of lacrosse. After about an hour with them, one child in particular stood out, he was super athletic and no doubt would be great at any sport. He was picking it up fairly quickly and with a big smile on his face, he exclaimed, “I LOVE LACROSSE.” There isn’t anything better than that!

What was the best advice you got from a coach?

Early in my coaching career a colleague told me to be willing to adjust my idea of success. For each team, each program, each player success is different. Winning a championship is great but if you don’t win, does that mean you don’t celebrate the good things that you did accomplish… I like to celebrate the good things.  Winning isn’t the only measure of success (though I do enjoy it!).

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