US Lacrosse Magazine has partnered with Blaxers Blog to produce a series of stories that illuminate the minority lacrosse experience and promote the accomplishments of those individuals who have defied stereotypes to succeed in the sport.

Read more about Blaxers Blog and the content partnership here.

"> Blaxers Blog: 'Where Do We Go From Here?' | USA Lacrosse Magazine

PHOTO COURTESY OF CORNELL ATHLETICS

Blaxers Blog: 'Where Do We Go From Here?'


US Lacrosse Magazine has partnered with Blaxers Blog to produce a series of stories that illuminate the minority lacrosse experience and promote the accomplishments of those individuals who have defied stereotypes to succeed in the sport.

Read more about Blaxers Blog and the content partnership here.

Change is improbable if people refuse to take the initiative and do what’s right. Be aware of the privilege granted in your arenas and make a difference for others.

Cornell defender and Black Student-Athlete Committee (BSAC) chairwoman Ashleigh Gundy spent her summer creating the documentary “Where Do We Go From Here?” It highlights the daily experiences that Black student-athletes endure, as well as the impact of activism.

ASHLEIGH GUNDY

Hometown: Southampton, N.Y.
Position: Midfield/Defense
College: Cornell (2019-pres.)
High School: The Shipley School (2015-18)

Notable Accolades:

  • Chairwoman, Black Student-Athlete Committee

  • Vice President of Internal Relations, BlackGen Capital

  • Women of Color Athletes (WOCA) Member 

  • Four-time All-Friends School League First Team

  • 2017 PASLA MVP — Friends School League, PASLA All-Academic Team

  • 2017 All-Main Line First Team

  • 2016 Pennsylvania Under Armour Team

  • NAUW Oratorical finalist

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

A week after George Floyd’s murder, Gundy composed a documentary. “Where Do We Go From Here?” began as a passion project unrelated to Gundy’s studies at Cornell, where she organized and encouraged Black Ivy League colleagues to elaborate on the macro and microaggressions they’ve experienced over time.

“Social activism is important because you’re fighting for those who don’t have the voice and opportunities you possess,” Gundy said.

Gundy understands that activism involves defending those often stereotyped while looking for support in lacrosse and abroad. You must understand how to maximize your educational opportunities by capitalizing off provided resources and demonstrate your activism responsibly.

“If we don’t correct injustices, we’re worse off than those who create them,” Gundy said. “People need to continue educating themselves and remember that racism is a societal issue, not just a problem for Black people.”

The film illuminated the reoccurring racial divide in American society and provided voices for those who felt unable to use their own. It was well received; many considered the film to be captivating. Gundy’s goal was to showcase insights from her peers and the Black Lives Matter movement for others to understand. She hopes the documentary will become a vehicle that propels conversation and action.

BSAC’s mission is to foster a welcoming community for all minority athletes on-campus. Gundy has helped BSAC create initiatives to further representation on Cornell rosters. With WOCA, Gundy demonstrated the organization’s intersectional purpose while uplifting like-minded women.

“It’s a responsibility to be a leader on and off the lacrosse field,” Gundy said. “It’s not about yourself; it’s about the betterment of the team and society at-large.”


“It’s not about yourself; it’s about the betterment of the team and society at-large.” — Ashleigh Gundy


ROAD TO CORNELL

As an extroverted high schooler, Gundy underwent technical and draw control training under Penn State alum and Shipley School (Pa.) head coach Molly Fernandez. Gundy supplemented her training by studying film of Taylor Cummings before practices. This experience at the Philadelphia area private school was essential to helping her understand the techniques required for the next level. Academically, Shipley ensured Gundy’s readiness for college, as she excelled with confidence on and off the field.

During her recruiting process, Gundy wanted to land at an institution that challenged her academically and athletically. During her 14 years at Shipley (which is K-12), she learned the importance of time management and proactivity by utilizing office hours to converse with instructors. These tools were essential in Gundy’s senior year as she balanced field hockey, lacrosse and a part-time job.

She visited Cornell’s campus during her sophomore year and fell in love with its gorges and campus environment.

“I was ready for Cornell after coming from an academically rigorous school like Shipley,” Gundy said.

At the club level with Ultimate Lacrosse, she sharpened her talents under coach Jennifer Duckenfield. While coaching, Duckenfield would tell Gundy what schemes she saw in her head and how to prepare for them.

“I liked that because I could fully understand the long-term goal at hand.” Gundy said. “The ability to sprint and forward the ball with my skills set me apart as a recruit.”

In 2018, Gundy won the Shipley’s White Blazer Award, an honor given to a multi-sport senior student-athlete who exemplified athleticism and sportsmanship.








FAMILY ATMOSPHERE

Lacrosse holds a special place in Gundy’s heart. The sport provided an outlet to unwind after a rigorous day.

At 5 years old, Gundy was first exposed to the sport by her mother, who was a former high school goalie. She and her older sister Kaela often practiced alongside their mother on the front lawn with vintage, wooden sticks. Despite excelling in other sports, Gundy’s love for lacrosse shined brightest.

She credits her family’s support as her primary source of inspiration and focus during games. Gundy’s live by a quote from their beloved move, “Drumline” — “One band, one sound.” In 2020, she had the pleasure of playing against her sister’s alma mater, Syracuse, as her entire family watched in the Carrier Dome.

“My family always believed in me, no matter what,” Gundy said.

With graduation approaching in 2022, she takes advantage of each moment spent with her Cornell teammates, especially captain Ellie Walsh. Gundy admires how Walsh demonstrates leadership by her grit and persistent play on the field. She’s studied Walsh’s footwork and explosiveness in order to sharpen her own game.

“She never gives up, no matter the conditions, and players like her are who I mimic my game after,” Gundy said.

Gundy embodies the values engraved on three bricks that sit in Cornell’s locker room: hardwork, positive attitude and team first. Throughout her career, Gundy has felt grateful for the experiences she’s shared with teammates and the camaraderie they have fostered together as an extended family.

Cornell has also bestowed Gundy with endless opportunities. This summer, she will work as a wealth management intern at Goldman Sachs. 




PHOTO COURTESY OF CORNELL ATHLETICS


LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

To Gundy, representation is an importance that speaks to diversity in people, thought and background. Representation is a key to making any team more well-rounded.

“I don’t think lacrosse is for one race, and we must level the playing field to strengthen the sport,” Gundy said.

Lacrosse must prioritize fixing its issues of underrepresentation and inaccessibility. Gundy elaborated on how the lack of lacrosse in certain school systems and late exposure can lead to players prematurely ending their careers in the sport after high school.

“We need a wider, diverse pool of people to bring the best team experience,” Gundy said.

Mentorship has played a huge role in Gundy’s life. Every mentor should advocate for their mentee and be straightforward about their trajectory. She was moved by how an opposing coach at a summer tournament took notice of her potential and shared tips to improve her skills.

“Many people of color don’t have someone looking out for them, nor someone who believes in their potential,” Gundy said. “It’s hard to believe in yourself when you don’t see many who came before you.”

Giving back to the community fosters mentorship opportunities and provides youth someone to look up to. It’s impactful to see someone walk in the same shoes you once walked in. Gundy wants younger lacrosse players to look forward to their unique experiences and be adaptable on and off the field. 

Gundy is a proponent of philanthropy for inner-city and rural programs as ceilings continue to break.

“If we don’t put anything back in our communities to invest, we won’t have power to keep the movement going,” Gundy said. “Having the community benefit is better than just one person.”