St. Joe’s and fellow Philly 6 colleges continue fundraising efforts through the Coaches vs. Cancer program, a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches.
For most Canadian youth, growing up in the Great White North involves skating or playing hockey.
“It’s kind of the right of pass to be able to skate before you can walk,” says Levi Anderson ’23, who grew up in Calgary, Alberta in Canada.
But for Anderson, while he enjoyed spending time on the outdoor rink with his family, he found he excelled more at other sports.
The sophomore attack on the Saint Joseph’s University men’s lacrosse team was first introduced to the sport of lacrosse by an elementary school classmate who played box lacrosse — the indoor variation of the game better suited for the cold climate in Canada.
Throughout his 13 years playing box lacrosse, Anderson found the sport was a release that allowed him to stay focused academically.
“After long days I’d come home struggling from some assignments and would always grab my stick and go play wall ball and calm myself down,” Anderson says. “Since I was young I was always able to lean on the sport to keep me on the right track and keep me motivated within the classroom.”
After moving up the ranks in different clubs in Canadian box lacrosse, Anderson also realized the opportunities the sport could offer for him — specifically, he set his sights on attending college and playing DI lacrosse in the United States. That opportunity was realized when head coach Taylor Wray watched Anderson play in exhibition matches and offered Anderson a scholarship to attend and play at St. Joe’s.
As a first generation college student, an international student and a student-athlete, Anderson
knew there would be a lot to juggle at college. In his youth, Anderson was diagnosed with dyslexia, which made reading comprehension difficult. He says it has been one of the hardest challenges he has had to endure, but he hasn’t shied away.
“When I came on campus, I was at a point where I wasn’t really sure if I could make it all work just with all the different expectations and with the daily rigor of being a DI athlete,” Anderson says. “But working with the Athletic Center for Enrichment here at St. Joe’s has really helped me through getting my schedule all figured out, keeping up with my classes and just keeping me accountable.”
At St. Joe’s, his teammates have inspired him to work harder on the lacrosse field and in the classroom.
“I would say my coaches and my teammates have done the most to develop me as a player and a person on and off the field,” Anderson says. “They understand what it’s like to grow your education field as well as getting better as a lacrosse player and that’s what I’ve always appreciated. A lot of my teammates are very good students and it’s definitely quite humbling to learn from them, to see how hard a lot of them work on and off the field.”
In the classroom, Anderson is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a masters in Criminal Justice. Learning in these fields and earning a degree are among his biggest priorities. He has also delved into these experiences outside the classroom.
When Anderson first stepped onto St. Joe’s campus, he was impressed by the beautiful buildings. He also noticed the disparity between different parts of the surrounding community including the neighboring elementary school, Samuel Gompers School.
“So I asked myself, ‘What could I, as well as my peers, do to help out in any way shape or form to uplift the educational trajectory of some of the students within the school [Gompers]?’” he says.
Anderson reached out to his teammates and coaches and the team put together a group to help clean up the outside of the school last year. He also put together a team that assisted with a program called Building Champions to help guide high school students grow and pursue their higher education and athletic goals.
“We start with goals every week and things to strive for and then reach out on a weekly basis to see if we were able to hone in and complete those goals,” Anderson says. “And what I think was very influential was the fact that we as the student-athletes, we’re all setting goals for ourselves, too, so it informed accountability on both ends”
As a first-generation college student, Anderson is committed to completing his education. He also has his sights on professional lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League or the Premier Lacrosse League and to help other young budding athletes to excel in their sport and their education.
“Without lacrosse I don’t know where I would be today,” Anderson says. “It gave me so many opportunities, it opened up so many doors and I was able to work through my educational differences through my love of lacrosse and that’s driven me to give back as much as possible and make the transition easier for some of the individuals coming up in high school and grade school.”