Gina Oliver Thomas (left) is a U.S. national team legend and earns a rightful place on the timeline of Black lacrosse history.

A Timeline of Black Lacrosse History


As we continue our celebration of Black History Month, we honor some of the key figures in the sport’s history and significant milestones that have helped shape the lacrosse world. We are proud to continue our content partnership with Blaxer’s Blog to help recognize key moments in our sport.

Throughout the month, we will continue to share more stories on the people that make our sport special.

1888

Albert F. Lewis, the first known Black lacrosse player, takes the field as a goalie for the Cornwall Club and the Canadian national team. His name is found in a Montreal Gazette article from 1888.

JUNE 10, 1957

Jim Brown scores five goals in the first half of the USILA North-South Game in Baltimore. Just a few months later, he begins his pro football career with the Cleveland Browns. 

1969

Tina Sloan Green tours with the U.S. women’s team to Australia and New Zealand as the first Black player in U.S. team history. 

MARCH 9, 1975

Morgan State upsets No. 1-ranked Washington and Lee in men’s lacrosse, the inspiration for the “Ten Bears” book chronicling the historic occasion. Members of the Bears program rose to fame in the lacrosse world, with Joe Fowlkes gracing the cover of the NCAA Lacrosse Guide in 1978.

SPRING 1982

Temple wins the AIAW championship under Tina Sloan Green, the first of three national championships she won as head coach of the Owls. 

MAY 30, 1989

Syracuse’s Rodney Dumpson scores game-winning goal against Johns Hopkins in the NCAA title game. Dumpson finished his college career with three national championships.



JULY 15, 1990

Fred Opie helps the U.S. men win a world championship in Perth, Australia. Opie was the first Black player in U.S. men’s team history. 

MAY 4, 1997

Cherie Greer Brown is named the MVP of the world championship game in Japan. She repeats as MVP of the title game in 2001 in England, winning her third gold medal. 

SUMMER 1999

Rick Sowell becomes the first Black men’s head coach at the Division I level after earning the job at Dartmouth.

MARCH 1, 2003

Virginia’s John Christmas scores the game-winning goal to clinch a victory over top-ranked Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Later that season, Christmas scored the final goal of Virginia’s 9-7 national championship game win over Johns Hopkins.

JUNE 3, 2005

Johns Hopkins’ Kyle Harrison becomes the first Black player to win the Tewaaraton Award.

JANUARY 17, 2006

Brian Silcott is named the first Black head coach in Major League Lacrosse history. He coached the San Francisco Dragons for two seasons.

MARCH 22, 2008

Shamel Bratton, Rhamel Bratton and Will Barrow play together on an all-Black midfield line as Virginia defeats Johns Hopkins 13-12 in overtime — an unplanned convergence that played out on national TV and two days later was recognized by the Baltimore Sun as “a milestone for diversity within lacrosse.” 

MARCH 12, 2009

Howard, coached by Jessy Morgan, hosted Bryant, coached by Karen Healy, marking the first time that two Black women’s lacrosse coaches went head-to-head in a Division I game.








JUNE 27, 2009

Gina Oliver Thomas earns All-World honors at the world championship in the Czech Republic, helping the U.S. win back the gold medal.

AUGUST 2010

Wale performs at LXM Pro Tour in Philadelphia. Kyle Harrison launched the LXM Pro Tour in 2009 and debuted in its inaugural season a year later.

JUNE 5, 2012

Taylor Thornton receives the Honda Award as the nation's top women’s lacrosse player. Thornton finished her Northwestern career earning All-America honors four times while helping the Wildcats win two national championships.

MARCH 15, 2013

The first-ever HBCU women’s lacrosse game between Howard and Delaware State ends with a 17-4 Bison victory.

MAY 12, 2013

Demianne Cook scores a pair of goals in an NCAA tournament game against Maryland, finishing the season with a nation-best 90 goals. Cook scored 158 goals in just two seasons at Stony Brook after transferring from Adelphi, where she was twice named the IWLCA Midfielder of the Year and led the Panthers to consecutive NCAA Division II championships.

JULY 11, 2014

Uganda becomes the first African national team to compete in a world championship, facing Ireland in its opening game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., the occasion providing cause for a Lacrosse Magazine cover story entitled, “For Uganda, For Africa.”




PHOTO COURTESY OF MAJOR LEAGUE LACROSSE

The MLL Four made a statement during the MLL's bubbled 2020 season.


JANUARY 22, 2016

Myles Jones is drafted first overall by the Atlanta Blaze in the 2016 MLL draft. From 2016-18, Jones played primarily with the Chesapeake Bayhawks and accrued 62 goals and 42 assists before taking his talents to the Premier Lacrosse League.

FEBRUARY 13, 2016

NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse returns to an HBCU for the first time since 1981 with the debut of a new program at Hampton. ESPN brings “SportsCenter” on-site to commemorate the occasion.

FEBRUARY 25, 2017

The University of the District of Columbia beats Hampton 19-15 in the first men’s HBCU-v-HBCU game.

JULY 21, 2018

Trevor Baptiste helps the U.S. men capture the world championship with a 9-8 win over Canada in Netanya, Israel. Baptiste led the event with a 75.3 winning percentage on faceoffs.

APRIL 13, 2019

Longwood’s Elaine Jones wins the 150th game of her coaching career as the Lancers beat Winthrop 14-4. Jones, a national champion at Virginia and former U.S. Elite team member, has been a head coach at Longwood and UC Davis.

AUGUST 1, 2019

The Kenya women’s U19 team makes its debut in the world championship held in Peterborough, Ontario.

SUMMER 2020

In July, Isaiah Davis-Allen, Chad Tolliver, Mark Ellis and Kris Alleyne join one another as the “MLL Four,” standing together during the national anthem to raise awareness of systemic racism. The summer of 2020 was marked by several demonstrations, including Jules Heningburg’s “Standing at the Crossroads” and the launch of the PLL’s Black Lacrosse Alliance.

FEBRUARY 1, 2022

World Lacrosse announced the formation of its fourth Continental Federation — the Africa Association of Lacrosse — to support the sport’s rapidly increasing popularity across Africa’s 54 countries.