The Impact of Inclusion in Lacrosse
US Lacrosse has been focused on bringing greater diversity to the sport of lacrosse for some time, and in fact, has identified outreach and inclusion as one of its four primary goals in the Strategic Plan that will shape the organization’s priorities from 2016-2018.
Specifically, the national governing body is committed to providing programs and services that introduce the sport to those unfamiliar with it, reducing financial barriers to participation and supporting the establishment of accessible and self-sustainable lacrosse programs to assure a diverse national lacrosse community.
“Part of our mission is the strength of lacrosse as a team sport for kids, and essential to that mission is accessibility and availability to as many kids as possible,” said Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse.
Recently, US Lacrosse produced a video that incorporates many varied voices – coaches, players, program administrators – sharing personal reflections about the impact of inclusion within the lacrosse community. Members of diverse organizations cite increased vitality and energy among the benefits they have experienced.
One misperception about diversity is that it’s just about race. Not so says Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse.
“Diversity is all encompassing,” Preston-Laurent said. “Everyone has their own unique story; age, gender, orientation, background. We want to make sure when we think of diversity, it’s bigger.”
Diversity doesn’t automatically mean inclusion. A diverse team recognizes the differences of each coach and player. An inclusive team values those differences and provides everybody with an equal voice.
“For the same reason that we need a left-handed attackman and a right-handed attackman, we also need to bring in kids from different backgrounds and different experiences,” said Mike Murphy, men’s lacrosse head coach at the University of Pennsylvania. “It makes the group stronger.”
US Lacrosse has created resources to help support lacrosse programs, leagues and organizations in their quest for greater diversity and inclusion. The ‘Best Practices’ guidebook and tool kit outline strategies and suggestions for implementation.