The lasting image of 2008 that will stay with me was the hopeful, enthusiastic faces of the Pacas, a lacrosse team of middle school girls in East Baltimore.
Coming from their drug-infested neighborhoods, with little encouragement - or even direction - in their homes, these young girls were looking for relief from the daily grind, if not a way out of the chaos of the inner city. They played lacrosse as an outlet, but the older ones, girls like Audrey Lewis, Rockiea Jones and Brenda Santiago, saw the sport as a doorway to a better education and a better life.
Whether they can all step through is another issue.
The sad, inescapable truth is that many of these girls will be doomed to the same mistakes and lifestyles as their parents. Middle school lacrosse won't get them through that door. And try as they might, former coaches Leigh McDonald Hall and Sue Heether were able to get only a handful of girls to make that journey.
Strange then, that this setting is Baltimore, Maryland, where there is no greater tradition of lacrosse. Seems to me it's not just the city that has to do a better job for these children, but also the state of Maryland and the sport itself. Those faces say it all.