Success Beah is a native of Liberia. Breanne Macnaughton was born in South Carolina and grew up in Florida. Joy Ngafua was born and raised in Philadelphia.
All three are teammates on the Elizabethtown girls lacrosse team, as well as housemates at the Masonic Children’s Home in Elizabethtown, on the 1,400-acre campus that houses 35 residents and has hosted more than 2,100 children since the Pennsylvania Freemasons established it in 1913.
All three also are believed to be among the first five from Masonic to play for the Elizabethtown girls lacrosse program, which began in 2013.
The first was Aba Aggrey, who is now attending Penn State. While in high school, Aba recruited Masonic housemate Cyrose Conteh to play lacrosse. Cyrose is now playing at NCAA Division II Kutztown University. While at Elizabethtown, Cyrose recruited Success, who has since recruited Joy and Breanne.
Success is now a high school senior; Joy and Breanne are sophomores.
Masonic Children’s Home residents include young people in elementary school up to teenagers in high school who attend either Elizabethtown Area School District, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 programs or the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center. They also have the option to play sports at Elizabethtown.
While in middle school, Joy and Breanne were previously committed to a sport. Then Breanne skipped a year of playing field hockey, and Joy wasn’t enjoying track and field. Entering their freshman year of high school, Breanne and Joy were approached by Success to give lacrosse a try.
“We have a bunch of seniors who graduated,” Success told the girls. “We have new spots open on the team. Do you want to come play?”
The conversation took place in fall 2019.
“So we went out to the field across from our house (at Masonic) and practiced a little,” Breanne recalled. “And I was like, ‘OK. I like this.’ I was up for trying something new.”
The first lacrosse season for Success came in 2019. Joy and Breanne were set to be first-year players in 2020 and participated in two weeks of preseason practices before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the season.
Regardless, the girls’ interest in the sport didn’t wane. They spent countless hours practicing on the grass field across from their house at Masonic, taking shots on a lacrosse net that’s been on the campus since 2016.
Success is now a starting attack for the Bears, aiming to score the first varsity goal of her career this season. Joy and Breanne are junior varsity starters, Joy on offense, Breanne on defense.
How they got here
Each has taken their own unique path to get to this point.
Success and her mother came from Liberia to the United States in 2005, first living with family in Philadelphia.
“My mom was doing single-mom stuff,” Success recalled. “Working two jobs, taking me back and forth to my aunt and grandma and then I would sleep over there. ... She was upset she wasn’t there for me.”
It’s what led to Success landing at the Masonic Children’s Home at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.
Breanne, born in South Carolina, grew up in Florida near her father’s family. After her parents divorced, Breanne and her two younger sisters came to live closer to their mother’s family in Pennsylvania.
“My mother has a drug addiction,” Breanne said. “She’s clean now. She’s good now. But me and my sisters were living with my grandmother (in Elizabethtown) while my mom was in rehab.”
After a year of living with their grandparents, Breanne and her sisters came to Masonic at the start of the 2017-18 academic year.
Joy and her younger sister, both originally from Philadelphia, came to Masonic at the start of the 2018-19 academic year. Their mother felt the move would better their education.
Speaking of which, after graduation, Success will be attending Penn State, working toward a nursing degree in hopes of becoming a labor and delivery nurse. Joy would like to pursue a doctorate in pediatric cardiology. Breanne wants to study psychology.
'It's been a journey'
Before they came to Elizabethtown, neither of the girls knew anything about lacrosse.
“It’s taught me to work harder for what you want,” Success said. “Even if you’re losing, you have to keep your head up.”
Success and Joy are Black, which is worth pointing out in a sport where not many players look like them. In 2020, the NCAA reported that only 4% of all men’s lacrosse players and 3% of all women’s lacrosse players were Black.
“It’s been a journey, I guess,” Success said. “Even when Cyrose was here, people would confuse us. We don’t even look alike. We’re not the same height or anything. It was just because we’re both Black.”
In the 2017-18 academic year, Black students made up 2% of the Elizabethtown High School student body.
“Since E-town is predominantly white, you don’t see a lot of us out here doing a lot of the sports,” Joy said. “So being out here and having the opportunity to play is something that’s big and can inspire anyone. ... Everyone is so welcoming and has taught me a lot of things. Not only Success but even some of the girls here now have taught me things.”
Joy’s younger sister and one of Breanne’s younger sisters are now playing youth lacrosse. In other words, a small girls lacrosse pipeline seems to be developing at Masonic.
“It’s really special,” Success said. “Joy and Bre are two of the closest people I’ve connected to. Living with them for two or three years, that’s a given. ... Being able to pull them into a sport that I like, there’s really a connection. When we’re on the sidelines, we’re always talking and having fun.”
Success is an only child. But in a way, lacrosse has given her an opportunity to be a big sister to Joy and Breanne.
“They look up to me,” Success said. “So it gives me motivation to try harder so they can see and be inspired to try harder.”