Blaxers Blog: The Creative Mind of Keith Dukes

PHOTO COURTESY OF UMBC ATHLETICS


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams. 

Keith Dukes is the cultivation of all of all of the above. Add in his passion for lacrosse, and it almost describes Dukes to a “T.”

From an early age, lacrosse was the sport for Dukes. It was in kindergarten that lacrosse was suggested to Dukes’ family by a friend after he had tried a host of other sports.

“From Day 1 I hit the ground running, and that was it,” Dukes said.

Dukes went on to play in rec leagues throughout Maryland in his youth days leading up to his time at DeMatha High School as a short stick defensive midfielder. He made it to UMBC, contributing right away to a defensive unit that statistically had been one of the best in the country. His statistics speak for themselves — 40 career ground balls in three seasons — but it's the things beyond the field of play that make him unique.

Dukes was one of the team’s representatives on UMBC’s Student Advisory Council during the 2020 season and served as a team captain in 2020 and 2021. Leading isn’t new to Dukes. He’s been around leaders his entire life and has taken pieces of what they’ve given him to turn himself into a leader, too.

“A good leader is someone who takes time to look at the goal and survey how everybody is contributing to that goal, including yourself,” Dukes said. 

One of his favorite leadership quotes is from Michael Jordan: “I can’t ask somebody to do something if I haven’t done it myself.” 

Dukes takes this to heart when he holds his teammates accountable, making sure they are hitting the wall or keeping up in the classroom. He credits Zach Taylor, a defensive middie at DeMatha who was a senior when Dukes was a freshman, and guys like Gunnar Schmoler, Billy Nolan Jr. and Jason Brewster who were upperclassmen when he arrived on UMBC’s campus.  







Along with asserting himself as a leader within lacrosse, Dukes has also found his creative side through video production, music and social media. On his main Instagram account (@500mpDukes), he boasts over 1,200 followers posting content that’s a mix of life, lacrosse and fashion. He has also made a second Instagram account in which he posts self-edited videos that show his creative side and the adventures he takes with friends.

“With my videography, I don’t even aspire to go to cool places. I want go to places and make them look cool,” Dukes said. “My goal last summer was to go to five different cities. I ended up going to six or seven.”

Dukes goes to different areas, meets people and takes videos or pictures of them. He shows them to the subject and then builds a connection with them beyond just meeting in that setting. 

As seen on his social media, similar to lacrosse star Myles Jones, Dukes has a love for fashion and creativity within clothing. For him, fashion is more than just putting on regular clothes. 

“Clothes bring people together, I like to dress my mood,” Dukes said. “I feel like people in our generation really like to dress their mood, whether it’d be gray, vibrant, whatever it is.” 

For him, fashion is not only a way to express his mood. It’s also another way to continue his goal of bringing people together. 

As for his future, Dukes hasn’t nailed down exactly what he wants to do. He does have aspirations to play professional lacrosse, which is something he’s dreamed about since he was a kid. He could also get into coaching, which is something he got a head start in this past summer serving as an assistant coach with the 2025 Annapolis Hawks Club Team. Videography will remain a staple of his life, too.

Whatever Keith chooses to do, based on his leadership skills, the want and will to bring people from all backgrounds together combined with his creativity, his future is very bright.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This Black History Month, we’re connecting the past with the present as we celebrate the contributions of Black lacrosse players, coaches and figures who have changed the sport for the better.

As part of our partnership with Blaxers Blog, writer Jordan Johnson will host a series of Instagram Live discussions with some of the most important figures in Black lacrosse history. He’ll first join lacrosse legend Kyle Harrison and Tari Kandemiri of ESPN’s “Sound on with Tari and Amari” on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.

Please give us a follow at @USALacrosseMag on Instagram to join the live discussion. Stay tuned for more Black History Month content as the month continues.

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