DOWNEY – A Downey resident hopes to use lacrosse as a means to help keep kids in Los Angeles off the streets.
Before moving to Downey, Steve Sedano called South Central LA home.
“South-central LA is kind of synonymous with the ghetto,” said Sedano. “Murder, prostitution, drugs, you know, ran rampant when I was growing up and still kind of do…the things I experienced when I was there, for lack of a better word, sucked. I saw my first murder when I was three.”
Sedano became desensitized, describing many of these unfortunate and tragic occurrences as “things you live with,” and “normal.”
It wasn’t until he and his family moved to Downey during his 10th grade year that things began to change for Sedano. However, the change was drastic and the adjustment difficult.
“It was significantly different and I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Sedano. “That’s why I got really depressed when I got here.”
Sedano didn’t really fit in, initially. However, he was eventually approached by then Downey High Boy’s Lacrosse coach Scott Witkin.
“Steve was ambitious, and you could see there was a little bit of, I would say angst,” said Witkin. “There was something underneath the surface that you could see. Sometimes those are the kids that you can take that passion and take that drive – whether it’s positive or negative energy – and you can turn that into a really positive energy.”
“It was definitely Coach Witkin that taught me lacrosse; properly taught me lacrosse,” said Sedano.
Sedano says that while often associated with “white affluence on the east coast,” lacrosse actually has Native American roots.
“The Native Americans played it to honor their creator,” said Sedano. “[They] played so we can entertain him and find medicine in what we do, and basically heal whatever malady is in the community…”
Sedano only played lacrosse for Witkin during his senior year, however his time playing definitely helped him develop more as a person and a student.
“I kind of would’ve wished that I would [have played] a little earlier,” said Sedano. “I think that if I had gone a little earlier…I think I would have had an opportunity to go legit D-1 lacrosse.”
Now, having recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach, Sedano has started to ask himself what he can do to help make change and impact in his community.
He found his answer in the Los Angeles Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds are a nonprofit organization spearheaded by Sedano, whose mission is to cultivate and produce prospective blue-chip recruits that will earn scholarships, attend university, and play at the division one level.
While still in the early phases, Sedano seems dead set in his vision as he meticulously puts all the pieces together and finds the right partners to make his vision a reality.
“Lacrosse is an expensive sport,” said Sedano. “I’ve always been kind of business inclined…it’s just putting different pieces together and seeing this person does this, and this person does that and how can we all collaborate to actually help the kids from the community.
“I’m trying to find people that actually genuinely want to help. It’s kind of like starve the ego, feed the soul kind of thing. If we all actually kind of invest ourselves into this, then kids will actually make the most out of it.”
Sedano hopes to pull together a large event during the summer where he aims to bring in at least 500 students.
“If you legitimately want to invest your time doing this; if you want to subject yourself to what it takes to be great, we want you,” said Sedano. “We want to help you.”
So far, Sedano has invested around $10,000 of his own money into the program, but that is very little in comparison to the good he intends to spread.
“I feel that if you actually believe in something, you put yourself into it,” said Sedano. “That’s why I invested a lot of my personal income into it as well.”