City Lax Benefit at Occidental March 5

Two Occidental College alumni -- a top New York advertising executive and a Los Angeles documentary filmmaker -- paired up four years ago to tell the unlikely story of inner-city kids from Denver being introduced to the sport of lacrosse.

This Saturday, March 5, the Occidental Women's Lacrosse program and Lax in LA will host the Los Angeles premiere of the award-winning result of the collaboration between Gabriela Cowperthwaite '93 and Tor Myhren '94--City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story.

The showing to benefit Lax in LA -- the nonprofit Los Angeles Inner City Lacrosse Association -- and Occidental Women's Lacrosse will be held at 6 p.m. in Thorne Hall on the Occidental campus. Tickets will be available at the door: $5 for adults and $3 for children under 18. Cowperthwaite will meet with audience members at a reception following the screening.

"This is a unique event that supports diversity, breaking down multiple stereotypes, organizations that transform young lives, and America's original sport," said Occidental head coach Michele Uhlfelder, a First Team All-American at Maryland and a two-time member of the gold medal-winning U.S. World Cup lacrosse team.

City Lax, which recently won best documentary honors at the Sonoma International Film Festival, tells the story of Denver City Lax, the team Myhren's schoolteacher brother Erik launched with a group of African-American students who had never heard of lacrosse.

With full access to four of the players' households, and with financial backing from Myhren -- the president and chief creative officer of Grey New York, the advertising agency for which Myhren dreamed up the E*Trade talking baby -- Cowperthwaite and her skeleton crew filmed almost every day for six months, following the team's Bad News Bears-like march toward the Warrior Rocky Mountains Lacrosse Jamboree.

Like its Denver counterpart, Lax in LA seeks to diversify and expand lacrosse competition into inner-city high schools in South Central Los Angeles. In addition to providing a beneficial after school outlet, the program offers a weekly study hall, requires a minimum GPA and monthly community service.

After sponsoring lacrosse as a club sport for a number of years, Occidental launched its intercollegiate program for women in 2010. By luring Uhlfelder from Stanford University to serve as head coach, Oxy gave its fledgling program serious credibility.