The April edition of US Lacrosse Magazine includes a special 12-page section featuring faces and voices of the black lacrosse community.

The Faces and Voices of the Black Lacrosse Community


“We as a community have to do better.

Kyle Harrison, one of the most recognizable black lacrosse players in history, tweeted these words Jan. 10 while he was in Hong Kong.

Halfway around the world, here in the U.S., the lacrosse community was reeling from a couple of ugly incidents on social media — one in which a high school boy referred to a team of mostly minority players as convicts and another in which a racial slur appeared on the Instagram account of a U.S women’s team player. More recently, a video surfaced of Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse players celebrating a win by singing a song that repeatedly used that same epithet.

These events provided the backdrop for several spirited discussions about diversity and social awareness at the US Lacrosse Convention. For me, the most poignant moments were when Harrison, Myles Jones, Chazz Woodson, Keith Wilford and Shaun Church addressed the players and parents of Nation United, an elite and diverse club program that was the target of the aforementioned convicts post.

Listening to them open up about their raw experiences as people of color in our predominantly white sport, I considered how powerful it could be to convey such stories to the entire membership of US Lacrosse. This edition of US Lacrosse Magazine is largely a product of that inspiration.

What’s it like being black in lacrosse? We wanted to show the faces and amplify the voices of the one percent.

Often when lacrosse people talk about diversifying the sport, it’s about growing the game. By making the sport more accessible to minorities, we contend, we can tap into new populations to revitalize sagging participation numbers. That’s a worthy endeavor, no doubt. But ultimately it’s meaningless if we don’t also seek to understand how our own prejudices — even when shrouded in humor or unconsciousness  — impede that progress.

Kyle’s right. We have to do better.

— Matt DaSilva, Editor in Chief


What's it like being black in lacrosse? We wanted to show the faces and amplify the voices of the one percent.


PHOTO BY HEATHER AINSWORTH

What it Means to be Black
in This Sport

Joey Coffy // Cornell

Joey Coffy, a senior midfielder at Cornell, was first-team All-Ivy League and an IWLCA Regional All-American in 2016. Raised as one of seven siblings in Norwalk, Conn., she previously starred in three sports (soccer and basketball) at The Hotchkiss School. Coffy interned the last two summers at J.P. Morgan and will join the company full-time after graduating in May.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHIGAN ATHLETICS

What Success Looks Like

Chase Young // Michigan

Chase Young, of Philadelphia, is a senior midfielder and captain at Michigan, where he is a biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience major. Young’s heritage includes Chinese, Jamaican and Native American influences. He has helped conduct lacrosse clinics in urban Philadelphia with LEAPS Lax, a nonprofit organization co-founded by his former high school coach, Eric Gregg.

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PHOTO BY GREG WALL

From Southside Queens to
College Coach

Shaun Church // Monroe Community College

Shaun Church won NJCAA titles as a player (2009) and assistant coach (2017) at Onondaga Community College and two NCAA Division III titles (2011 and 2012) as a player at Salisbury. He’s currently the head coach at Monroe Community College.

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PHOTO BY LEE WEISSMAN

Becoming the Black Panther

Arielle Ramirez // Kellenberg (N.Y.)

Arielle Ramirez is a senior midfielder at Kellenberg (N.Y.) and for Liberty Lacrosse. Also a track and field standout, the Baldwin, N.Y., native will play Division I lacrosse at Hartford.

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PHOTO BY MATT DUNN

The Cape You Wear as the ‘Only’

Chazz Woodson // Florida Launch

Chazz Woodson recently retired from Major League Lacrosse after a career spanning 12 years and seven different teams. He was a two-time All-Ivy League attackman at Brown. Woodson, 35, of Miami, is the co-founder of Sankofa Lacrosse, which in conjunction with US Lacrosse conducts free youth clinics in underrepresented communities. He is a member of the US Lacrosse board of directors.

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PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Agents of Change

Kyle Harrison // Ohio Machine

Kyle Harrison, a two-time Team USA midfielder and former Tewaaraton Award winner at Johns Hopkins, currently plays for MLL’s Ohio Machine. He recently was named president and CEO of Charm City Youth Lacrosse. Harrison is the son of former Morgan State standout Dr. Miles Harrison, co-author of “Ten Bears,” a book about the Morgan State teams of the 1970s and early 1980s that competed as the only college team from a historically black institution.

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PHOTO BY JOSH ROTTMAN

Feeling Good
About Looking Different

Tariro Kandemiri // Official Lax Girl

Tariro Kandemiri was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, and discovered lacrosse when her family moved to the U.S. in 2004, when she was 8. She is a senior at Sewanee, where she played two seasons of Division III lacrosse. Kandemiri’s social media persona, Official Lax Girl, includes nearly 40,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram.

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PHOTO BY ANNE RYAN

Part of Something Bigger

Elijah Black // St. Viator (Ill.)

Elijah Black is a junior midfielder for the St. Viator (Ill.) boys’ lacrosse team and Nation United, a club program that fields elite teams of mostly minority players to compete in summer tournaments. Black has committed to Ohio State, where he plans to study business and finance.

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PHOTO BY ANNE RYAN

Unwavering Belief

Taylor Thornton // Baltimore Brave

Taylor Thornton was a four-time All-American midfielder at Northwestern from 2010-2013, earning the Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top women’s lacrosse player in 2012 after being named the IWLCA Division I Defender of the Year in 2011. She currently works as an actor in Los Angeles, where she also coaches club and high school lacrosse. Thornton is planning a lacrosse comeback this summer as a recent addition to the Baltimore Brave of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League.

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