Column: Asjia Roberson turns her dad’s $249 lacrosse investment into a ticket to USC
When Asjia Roberson was in fifth grade, a group of Redondo Union lacrosse players showed up at her school playground with their coach to give a clinic. They put up a goal and handed her a stick.
Reginald Roberson used to be in the Army. He’s from Louisiana. His wife, Andrea, used to be a JAG lawyer in the Air Force. She’s from Alabama. They knew nothing about lacrosse. But their daughter was so excited when she got home that they had to pay attention.
“I need a stick,” she said.
Asjia asked her dad to take her to the local sporting goods store. First Reginald searched “Lacrosse for Dummies” on the Internet to know what he was getting into.
Then, at the sporting goods store, a call went out over the public-address system, “Aisle 3 needs help.”
Asjia found the most beautiful stick in the building on the highest shelf. It was pink and purple. “I have to have this one,” she told her father.
Everything was going well until the salesman told her father the price of the stick was $249.
A coronavirus surge causes Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Austin Beutner to close campuses effective Thursday.
Then came stunned silence.
“I’ll give up my allowance. I’ll get all A’s. I’ll stop running 5Ks,” Asjia pleaded.
Reginald said, “If you’re getting a $249 stick, you better run like your feet are on fire.”
So began Asjia’s lacrosse journey that led to the junior committing to USC this year.
“The minute we put a stick in her hand, she went into the backyard and started running around,” her father recalled.
Blessed with speed and agility, the 5-foot-5 Asjia has become one of the best players in the country.
She’s still grateful for the lacrosse clinic that coach Tom Borgia put on. He’s now her coach at Redondo.
“It was so interesting when I first picked up the stick and he showed us how to get ground balls,” she said. “Lacrosse just appealed to me so much.”
Said Borgia: “She’s high energy. She never messes around. She’s really fast. She’s really aggressive and has terrific stick skills.”
There aren’t many minorities playing lacrosse, but Reginald said he has always felt welcomed at events with his daughter and wife. She plays for Fire Lacrosse, a club team.
“For us as parents, it’s been great,” he said. “The sport is growing and you’re getting a lot of kids who’d normally go track, volleyball, basketball and soccer. You’re seeing more minorities playing the sport. She was with the right coach and right program with a bunch of great families. Then we picked the right club.”
There’s a major push going on in Los Angeles to diversify lacrosse. Harlem Lacrosse is a youth development program that partners with schools in low-income, urban communities. It came to Los Angeles in 2017 and has more than 200 students participating in South Los Angeles, Compton and Inglewood.
Omar Sahagun and his teammate helped move 600 boxes of food to be distributed in the community, getting a workout at the same time. It’s COVID-era football.
Asjia’s athleticism as a defender and midfielder could help attract additional players to the sport.
“Speed can turn defense into offense and offense into defense,” she said. “It’s a real fast game, and it’s a key element for anything you can do.”
As for the stick, her father said she has paid for it by getting all A’s and becoming a top lacrosse player.
“She has an expensive eye,” he said.
Borgia, asked if he’d get a beginning lacrosse player a $249 stick, said, “I’d say you’re crazy. Let’s see her try it and see if she likes it.”
Lucky for the Robersons, the $249 stick was an investment that has returned huge dividends.
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