Israel's Matt Cherry Gives Back Through Lax

After playing lacrosse for four years at Dickinson College, even with a near perfect Senior season (18-1), Matt Cherry thought his future was set. He was ready to hang up his stick and a start a career in the insurance business.

Then, weeks before graduation, Matt got a call from a friend inviting him to go on a free, 10-day Birthright trip to Israel.  He decided to go – and ended up staying for three years.

When Matt learned about the trip, he contacted Israel Lacrosse, an STX-sponsored team and organization committed to promoting and growing lacrosse in Israel. Matt told them he would be coming to Israel and that he was interested in extending his stay a couple of weeks to volunteer with the organization.

Lacrosse had been his life for the past decade – he wanted to give others a chance to learn about and play the sport.

In Israel, Matt found that few had heard of lacrosse - let alone held a stick - and his group was tasked with promoting the sport. After several weeks of volunteering with Israel Lacrosse, Matt's work turned into a job offer—he decided to stay and continue to spread the word about the sport.

Traveling from town to town across the country, Matt explained the game of lacrosse to Israeli parents, children and teachers. Their grassroots effort paid off—in the three years that Matt was with Israel Lacrosse, he watched the organization grow from five players to 500 players. There are now several local teams and associations across the country.

“Lacrosse in Israel has given lots of children from difficult neighborhoods and situations hope by introducing them to a community of people and teaching them new skills," says Matt. 

Thanks to the work of Israel Lacrosse, boys like Lidor, a 16-year-old Israeli with whom Matt worked closely, are given the opportunity to travel and experience life outside of his town, a poverty-stricken area in central Israel. Lidor is now training to join Israel Lacrosse.

Matt watched lacrosse become a vehicle for different groups within Israel to interact peacefully. Israel Lacrosse set up training camps and teams to bring together players from Jewish and Muslim communities, providing common ground.

After three years of promoting, coaching and playing lacrosse in Israel, Matt recently moved back to the U.S. He is sharing his experiences with others and continues to give back to the lacrosse community.

Find out more about how to get involved with your local lacrosse community here.

Where else is lacrosse growing around the world? STX’s Joanna Lignelli coached abroad in Taiwan. Read about her experience here.