Spring on the York College campus

Abby Lends a Hand

By Scott Guise
Smith stands next to Oscar Ntonio, the former coach for the Kenyan Lacrosse team.
Smith stands next to Oscar Ntonio, the former coach for the Kenyan Lacrosse team.

College provides students with endless opportunities. These opportunities shape the future, determine where someone will start a career, and can have a big influence on a student’s life.

In the case of senior women’s lacrosse goalie Abigail (Abby) Smith, her experience during her career at York College has awakened a sense of service, which has led her down the path of helping others through the game of lacrosse.

Smith’s journey began when she met her former coach, Krystin Porcella, a very influential member of the lacrosse community. Porcella provided valuable connections that enabled Smith to get involved in a program to build Kenyan lacrosse and enable the first African women’s lacrosse team to compete on an international level at the 2019 U-19 World Championships in Canada.

Smith traveled to Kenya this past summer with the Kenya Lacrosse Association, where she hosted developmental clinics throughout the country along with a one-week national team training camp. The national training camp is vitally important for the players participating because they receive three meals a day, shoes, and equipment, things that are often not available to these players.

“The experience this summer in Kenya helped me realize how truly privileged we are to have the opportunity to grow up playing sports. I recognized that although many sports for developing countries exist, there are still so many children living around the world who have
no access to any type of organized sports. I have developed a very strong passion to use sports to change the lives of children around the world.”

Once in Kenya, Smith quickly realized many things were lacking for the young athletes.

“These girls come to camp and really don’t have the things that we take for granted,” she said. “Toiletries, hygiene products, shoes, and equipment are really hard to come by for these athletes. However, they don’t let these hardships weigh them down. They are incredibly hard-working and want to represent Kenyan Lacrosse on an international level.”

Smith understands that this process isn’t going to happen overnight.

“There are short-term goals and long-term goals for Kenyan lacrosse,” says Smith. “The goal is to help young athletes in Africa gain access to many of the things we take for granted through sports and grass-roots efforts to improve the quality of life.”

Smith will graduate in May 2019 and head back to Kenya in early June to help the Kenyan team prepare for the world cup while also traveling throughout the country to further the developmental efforts of the sport.

“My experience in Kenya was eye-opening and I am so excited to use lacrosse locally and around the world to help develop underserved communities.”