What We Can Do to Move Our Sport Forward

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Former Princeton and U.S. U19 team standout Austin Sims, now with Archers LC of the Premier Lacrosse League, likens practicing anti-racism to practicing lacrosse.


This article appears in the July/August edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, a digital-only publication available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today for access to this 96-page edition, which includes immersive and interactive features as well as video tips from professional players. Thank you for your support!

As much as social media and sharing stories have helped advance the cause of ending racial injustice, the call for action has never been stronger.

During each interview we’ve conducted for this piece (“Silent No More: A Racial Awakening in the Lacrosse Community“) and others, we asked members of the lacrosse community what we can do to move our sport forward. Here are some of the top responses. 

1. Don’t stay silent.

“If you’re around a bunch of white people and something goes down, be the one to step up even if no one is around. Who you are is what you do when no one is around.” — Pat Young, Atlas LC

“Don’t let the fear of not knowing what to say or how to handle it discourage you from speaking about it. Dive in and learn. Get uncomfortable. That’s how you grow.” – Scott Ratliff, Archers LC

“It’s like when you’re practicing a sport. If you’re not practicing, you’re getting worse and everyone around you is getting better. There’s no absolute right way to practice, but as long as you’re doing something, you’re going to get a little bit better every day.” – Austin Sims, Archers LC

2. Communicate.

 ”Trevor’s post was so impactful because he highlighted something that happens to every black lacrosse player. Every black player will tell you that they’ve heard it. A basic conversation with your black teammate and trying to get an understanding of why that’s not OK on any level, that’s a start.” – Kyle Harrison, Redwoods LC

“It all starts with conversation, expressing truly the way we feel with the goal being to try to understand the other person’s point of view. People willing to have this conversation must understand that candor is necessary, and comfort is secondary.” — Miles Harrison, Kyle’s father

3. Make room.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we need more women of color playing lacrosse. I think it’s really important that we make this game more accessible and particularly for women. In general for lacrosse, but in particular, for women.” — Kayla Treanor, Team USA

“Do the extra work to create opportunities for players and coaches of color to not only become part of the lacrosse community but stay in the lacrosse community.” — Lauren Davenport, US Lacrosse

“Please continue to share our voices and our stories, but make sure you advocate for us to be in every room and a part of every decision.” — Eboni Preston Laurent, US Lacrosse

4. Empathize.

“Everyone wants world peace, but what are we going to do to get there? Until we as a society can have empathy for each other and not jump down people’s throats for sharing their thoughts. It’s difficult to speak out to these things, but being able to understand and listen before forming an opinion could go a long way in changing this sport.” — Kris Alleyne, Connecticut Hammerheads







Lax Out Loud

“The time of silence has passed. The volume is up. We are no longer afraid of speaking up on these matters. You may not want to hear it. But you can no longer ignore it. We’ll keep talking until the message is heard. We’ll keep pushing forward. Some will inevitably stay behind. I hope most will march ahead.” – ESPN’s Anish Shroff, “Hear Me Out,” USLaxMagazine.com

“It pains me to see that same country that I worked so hard to properly represent torn apart because we can’t decide how we should treat people based on the color of their skin.” — Austin Sims, U.S. U19 alum and Archers LC playe

“The more that we unify, the more that we challenge each other, the more we won’t let this be just a single moment but an active movement to make change.” — Chris Bates, Archers LC coach

“Sometimes we don’t realize the power of our influence on one another.” – Kristen Carr, U.S. women’s national team player

“The bigger issue is the systemic issue and how people are conditioned to feel about black people. What does black mean to you? Whatever that answer is, why did you come up with that? There is this picture of blackness that America has that they didn’t think of on their own.” — Trevor Baptiste, U.S. men’s national team and Atlas LC player

“People in our sport, and beyond, love to emulate and relish in black culture —music, dance food, clothing, language — and that is a shared experience we can all have. However, when it's time to be empathetic to the injustices black people feel and that shared agony, suddenly it is not convenient. It’s not acceptable to love our culture but not show love to those same human beings in times of need.” — Jules Heningburg, “Standing at a Crossroads”

“I use something my dad said long ago: ‘John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had to die.’ The reason was, they were not only attempting to change laws regarding segregation; they were trying to change how the country felt about African Americans. Racism was that deeply seeded at that moment that there was no other alternative than to remove their voices. This has released a lifetime of thought, and I’m now mature enough to put it all together.” – Dr. Miles Harrison, Morgan State “Ten Bears”

“I’m exhausted. You can only answer why so many times.” — Nat St. Laurent, Redwoods LC coach on “Overtime” with Paul Carcaterra

“There’s a really pervasive ideal that being color blind is good — that ignoring all differences and other things is good. ‘You might be black or Hispanic, but I’m just going to ignore that, so it doesn’t matter.’ That’s not the goal. The goal is to see people in all their diversity and celebrate that.” — Mynk Richardson, former North Central College player who kneeled during the national anthem in 2018

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