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Archive for January 17, 2022

Jan. 17, 2022 — The inconvenient truth

Today, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I must put forth an observation that I have made time and again. That is, the fact that diversity and inclusion in both field hockey and lacrosse in the United States is not where it should be.

Racial and ethnic minorities have had substantial roadblocks for decades, which is understandable when you look at the initial development of the sport in the early 20th Century. Field hockey began at Harvard and spread throughout Eastern colleges before getting a foothold at public schools in southern New Jersey. Girls’ lacrosse began in Baltimore and remained very much an Eastern sport amongst American colleges before an enormous push westward in the 1990s and 2000s.

Lacrosse has had its heroes for both the indigenous and African-American communities, but mainly on the men’s side. Players like Jim Brown, Kyle Harrison, and Lyle Thompson have been emulated and lionized by many young boys and men throughout the years.

There have been minority women, such as Tina Sloan-Green, Cherie Greer, and Gina Oliver, who have been role models to young women in America. But for such a burgeoning sport, I’m distressed that the elite player pool, then as now, remains overwhelmingly white.

Thing is, having a more diverse group of players is good for the sport. If you watched Delmar (Del.), the Wildcats have a freshman right wing named Laela Brown, who just happens to have brown skin. Same with Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), whose most important goal of the 2021 season didn’t come off the stick of leading scorer Ryleigh Heck, but the shorthanded goal scored by Olivia White, whose skin just happens to be brown.

Perhaps other schools can work to have more diverse lineups and a culture which doesn’t say to prospective minority players, “This isn’t for you.”

It would be a great day when this happens.