Did you know that Lacrosse is the fastest growing team sport in this country? How ironic is it, that Lacrosse, the oldest sport known to the North American continent, is the hottest sport being played nationwide. The game was created by Native Americans around 500 AD. Lacrosse has always garnered the image of an elite prep sport played in the Northeastern section of the country, with the best players coming out of the Maryland/New York area. Lacrosse is no longer the elitist sport it was once portrayed to be. In 2015, Lacrosse is being played in every state in the union and is being played right here in Escambia County. In Florida, high school Lacrosse is played in practically every county.
African-Americans have contributed significantly to this country’s rich Lacrosse history. Jim Brown, a New Yorker and Hall of Fame professional football player, was the first African-American to excel in lacrosse at Syracuse University. During Brown’s senior year, He was a first team All American, scoring 43 goals in 10 games and was the second leading scorer in the country in 1957. Brown was inducted into the Lacrosse hall of fame in 1983. Brown’s greatest lacrosse feat was at the 1957 Collegiate North/South All Star game in which he scored five goals in one half against the top players in the country. There is not a lot of footage of Jim brown playing lacrosse but this 15 second You Tube video is exciting to see. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujltXvkQK_g
On the collegiate level, the only Historically African American University to ever play NCAA lacrosse was the Morgan State Bears (1970 -1981). From 1970 to 1975 Morgan State was ranked in the top 25 four out of five years, they made the championship tournament twice. In 1975, Morgan State was involved in one of the greatest upset victories in intercollegiate sports, when they defeated Washington and Lee University. Washington and Lee would eventually make it to the NCAA semifinals that year as the number 7 seed in the tournament. I was honored to be a member of the “10 bears” lacrosse team from 1977-1980. Many of the former Morgan players coach high school and club lacrosse teams throughout the country. PBS has done a documentary on the History of the Morgan State lacrosse team.
Other notable African-American players include, Syd Abernathy –Naval Academy, Rhamel and Shamel Braxton- University of Virginia, John Christmas-University of Virginia, All American and Player of the Year Kyle Harrison – Johns Hopkins University (His father was an original member of the Morgan State Team), Ed Howard- Hobart University, Chaz Woodson -Brown University, John Walker-Army, Dr. Fred Opie-Syracuse University (was the first black to play on the US men’s national Team) just to name a few.
Currently African-Americans lacrosse players are making significant contributions to their college teams.
Myles Jones- Duke University, Trevor Baptiste-University of Denver, Nick Fields-John Hopkins University, Kakeem Lecky-Syracuse University are a few of today’s top college stars.
Historically Black colleges are finding their way back on the Lacrosse field. Morgan State, Howard University, Hampton University and Morehouse College have club lacrosse teams, and compete against other clubs throughout the country.
I have not forgotten the women that play lacrosse that will be my next article………