1. History, Services, and Fiscal Responsibility
Established in 2008 - Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse Sports Academy has been committed to increasing awareness and opportunity for urban youth in the sport of lacrosse and beyond. Our mission is to empower youth with self-confidence, discipline and skills necessary to succeed in sports and life.
Over the last ten years, BYLSA has grown to become an after-school-based, year-round program that provides academic intervention, behavioral support, mentoring, leadership training and sports instructions to over 250 student-athletes throughout Fairfield County.
One of BYL’s biggest goals is to diminish the disparity between the quality of holistic sports programs available to Bridgeport’s urban youth and those offered to their suburban counterparts. Additionally, another significant challenge impacting children in Bridgeport is youth violence. Youth violence is a complex social problem that requires a multifaceted approach of prevention, intervention, enforcement and social- emotional development. For these reasons, BYL has partnered with other long-standing nonprofits that work with children in Bridgeport to develop a plan focused on reducing youth violence while offering quality programmin The students in our program have graduated to Denison University, Wentworth Institute, Jacksonville, Villanova University, Williams College, and many more.
About our Founder, Donald Wilson:
Don is the founder and Executive Director of Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse (BYL) and current head coach for lacrosse at Notre Dame High School in located in Fairfield, CT. As a youth, Don played football and ran track at Greenwich HS. He continued his education at Housatonic Community College and earned his Associates in Business Administration. He can best be described as an outdoors enthusiast who loves all sports. But he loves spending quality time running, hiking, canoeing, and skiing with his family the most.
Don’s amazing leadership at BYL has yielded much to discuss. At BYL, he is a certified coach/mentor and responsible for the day-to-day operations of all programs, including overseeing staff and volunteers. Since 2006, BYL has provided lacrosse training through clinics, travel teams, and in-house leagues to underserved, underrepresented youth in the Bridgeport metro area. In 2009, the Fairfield County Sports Commission recognized Don as Sports-Person-of-the-Year for Bridgeport. Additionally, BYL’s commitment to growing the game and building a cultural and grassroots program in Bridgeport was recognized on June 11, 2012, by the Western Lacrosse Officials Association (WCLOA). Further, Don has been recognized by the City of Bridgeport’s mayor and called a "Local Hero" by US Senator Richard Blumenthal on February 17, 2018. Continued accolades include receiving a Diversity Award from The WorkPlace and BYL’s Sports for Peace Summer Enrichment Camp’s recognition by The Honorable Board of Police Commissioners in October of 2019. In fact, recently the City of Bridgeport adopted this community outreach initiative and recognized "Peace Week" as a yearly official week-long program for city residents. “Peace Week” is a collaborative vision for tackling youth violence in the city of Bridgeport. The festival, and its cooperative activities, is designed with the specific goal of giving underserved youth the opportunity to gain valuable life-skills, self- confidence, and tools for perseverance.
Don continues to give back to his community through his volunteer service with PT Partners, an initiative for self-determination for residents in low-income public housing, as a member of their executive board; he serves on the board of The Future School – a new initiative for positive education in Bridgeport; and Green Village Initiative focusing on community gardening – where the organization maintains a plot.