Blaxers Blog Shows Lacrosse in a Different Lens

Blaxers Blog was created by friends Mark Paul and Don Wilson in 2015 after the Northeastern graduates reconnected.

A friendship 20 years stagnant was reignited on a lacrosse field in Connecticut on Nov. 16, 2015 — and no place was more fitting for such an encounter.

Mark Paul drove his son, Jalen, from their home near Boston to the National Invitational 175 recruiting event. Paul scanned the crowd of parents and players looking for someone with whom he could talk shop, his usual tradition at his son’s tournaments. He set his sights on a father and son that looked just like them.

In a predominantly white sport, it wasn’t often that the Pauls found other Black lacrosse families.

“Hey,” Paul asked as he approached the father, “these guys want to play catch?”

It took only a few seconds for Paul to recognize the face, but much longer to rationalize the chances of such an encounter. He had stumbled upon his old college friend, Don Wilson, whom he had befriended at Northeastern University decades earlier but had not seen in 20 years.

Paul, of Boston, and Wilson, of Bridgeport, Conn., had no idea they’d run into each other on that cold day in late fall. However, they weren’t going to let another 20 years go by.

“Twenty years we lost contact with each other, but from that day on, we haven’t,” Paul said.

Wilson, who founded Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse so his son, Josiah, had an outlet to play the game, and Paul, who played and introduced his son to lacrosse, bonded over their shared belief that the sport needs more people that look like them.

From left: Josiah Wilson, Don Wilson, Mark Paul and Jalen Paul.

Paul and Wilson, who once shared a passion for records working as DJs at Northeastern, began to focus their attention on inclusion in a sport where they were the minority. Seven months later, they created Blaxers Blog as a product of their collective imagination.

An Instagram account that celebrates and raises the profile of Black lacrosse players and coaches across the country, Blaxers Blog has gained popularity over the past three years, but never more so than when the national conversation about race consumed the sport and country this summer.

Using the voices of New York Lizards player Mark Ellis, Virginia Tech goalie Angie Benson and Brooklyn Crescents co-founder Wes Jackson, Blaxers Blog has hosted “Let’s Talk About It,” a series of live discussions with some of the game’s biggest names about what this community can do to curb racism and continue growing in the Black community.

“I’m truly blessed that Mark [Paul] and I ran into each other after 20 years and we’re of the same thinking that we can do more for the game beyond our sons,” Wilson said. “We want to create a platform that can benefit everyone in terms of the growth of the game, how the game is perceived, how it’s growing. We just want to make sure we’re telling these stories accurately and telling them with love and compassion for the game of lacrosse.”

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

“We’ve made a concerted effort in recent years and especially in recent months to amplify the voices of the Black lacrosse community, and a content partnership with Blaxers Blog is a natural extension of that effort,” said Matt DaSilva, editor in chief of US Lacrosse Magazine. “Mark and Don have created an essential outlet for people of color to find representation in the sport. We look forward to doing the same.”

Blaxers Blog, one of the most influential social media platforms in the lacrosse community, was born of a need to raise the voices of the unheard. Immediately after meeting at Avon Old Farms, Paul and Wilson began thinking of ways to unite the Black lacrosse community.

The first brainstorm produced a Black lacrosse all-star team that would travel to Lake Placid to compete in one of the sport’s biggest summer tournaments in 2016. Those plans eventually fell through, but the need for action was still present.

Sitting on the front porch of Paul’s Boston home, the two former college friends developed the idea for a blog that could share the stories that the lacrosse world needed to hear. With their sons heading to play college lacrosse, Paul and Wilson thought Blaxers Blog might be able to inspire others in their sons’ position.

The first Blaxers Blog post was Feb. 28, 2017. It portrayed seven young Black players smiling wide in their Duke’s Lacrosse Club pinnies. The account has been a destination for people of color ever since.

“I’ve been in lacrosse for the past 13 years and experienced that ‘one of and two of’ moment,” Wilson said. “It was just a breath of fresh air to see my brother again, and to have our sons the same age, playing at the same level and them being able to create their own network through our friendship. That’s what lacrosse is all about.”

Two fathers creating a social media platform? It’s an unconventional origin story. But Blaxers Blog has driven a positive narrative surrounding the sport’s Black athletes. The posts started with highlighting the history of Black lacrosse and profiling high school players looking to make it in college lacrosse. It wasn’t long before appearing on Blaxers Blog became worthy of acclaim. College coaches even reached out to inquire about prospects they saw featured on Blaxers Blog.

“We post a kid’s highlights and certain kids will comment, ‘You made it,’” Paul said. “We’re like ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ We just do it out of the love of community and always making a kid’s day. He can go back and say, ‘I was featured on the blog,’ or ‘A college coach saw me on the blog.’”

The initial response from the lacrosse community gave Blaxers Blog the confidence it needed to thrive.

“We saw the interaction and the feedback, which is what we were going for,” Wilson said. “Just seeing that, and people sending us stories and saying that it was needed, just the appreciation of the community — that has really propelled the blog. This is organic. This is what the people are feeling. We’re just listening to the community and amplifying that.”

Blaxers Blog continued to grow through 2018 and 2019, featuring more Instagram posts and takeovers by prominent Black lacrosse players and personalities. Over the past three months, interest in their content has surged during a racial awakening in the sport.

Through the “Let’s Talk About It” series, Jackson, Ellis and Benson allowed some of the most prominent people of color in the sport to meet fans of the blog in an unscripted setting. The Instagram Live conversations offered a way for the lacrosse community to connect with figures in the sport on a subject that stretched far outside the lines.

For Ellis and Benson, the opportunity to host “Let’s Talk About It” has raised their profiles in the sport. For Blaxers Blog, the inclusion of current collegiate and professional players has brought more attention to the platform and offered more authentic conversations along the way.

Benson, the adopted biracial daughter of two white parents, called Blaxers Blog a “safe space” to acknowledge her own racial complexities and to address issues in the sport.

In addition, the blog has stood alongside Indigenous players in their fight for equality. Blaxers Blog has profiled several notable Native American professional players and advocated for the Iroquois Nationals’ inclusion in The World Games in 2022.

Blaxers Blog has become the outlet that Paul and Wilson had hoped it would be and more.

“We didn’t know it would manifest itself in the way that it has,” Paul said. “We never wanted the blog to be used as a watchdog of lacrosse. It works as a conduit for getting kids to the next level and informing parents and kids that you’re not alone.’”

As Blaxers Blog continues to rise in stature in the lacrosse community, the two players who helped create the connection, Josiah Wilson and Jalen Paul, look forward to their respective careers outside of the game. Josiah Wilson graduated from Denison and Jalen Paul has one year left at Pace. Paul and Wilson said they’d love for their sons to take the reins of the platform eventually.

For now, the two lax dads are having a major impact on the lacrosse community — even though they’d prefer not to be the visage of Blaxers Blog.

“There is no face of the blog,” Paul said. “The community is the face of the blog.”

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