Ambassador: a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity

That is what the athletes in the Nation United Lacrosse Club are called. 

There is a great deal of responsibility associated with ambassadors, most commonly highly appointed officials representing their country and government among other foreign countries and governments. 

It is no different for the players within Nation United, who are honored with the duty to represent themselves and their heritage in an environment where most of them are often one of very few minorities. It is an opportunity for them to use their talents and experiences to cross ethnic, socio-economic and geographic boundaries to inspire diversity in the sport of lacrosse. 

Just a few years ago, two very similar lacrosse stories of young, future ambassadors began on opposite coasts of the United States. 

Isaiah Dawson was playing lacrosse for the South Bay Outlaws in San Diego. In 2012, his team was awarded a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant and the fire for lacrosse grew from there. Isaiah continued to play and develop his skills, leading him into the opportunity to attend Bishop High School to receive top notch lacrosse coaching and education. At a school with a long history of lacrosse success, Isaiah grew to be nationally recognized as one of the top-rated members of the class of 2018. 

On the East Coast, Sterlyn Ardrey began playing lacrosse for the Charlotte (N.C.) Condors when his program received a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant in 2011. Much like Isaiah, Sterlyn continued to learn the game and master his skills, leading him to The McCallie School in Tennessee to play lacrosse and receive a high level education.

Sterlyn Ardrey

As Sterlyn progressed in his lacrosse career through high school and began playing club, there was one obstacle that kept coming back. “I remember being either the only one, or one of two black players on the field,” said Sterlyn. “It made me feel isolated because I wasn’t able to speak my mind when negative and challenging things happened to me. Playing at McCallie [School] has helped me grow and learn how to deal with challenges on the field in a more mature manner.” 

It was those shared challenges that Sterlyn and Isaiah were able to face together in 2016, when these two players became ambassadors and teammates as a part of the Nation United Lacrosse Club. Nation United was organized by a group of individuals with the mission to utilize elite-level lacrosse to increase participation in the sport and inspire diversity. 

The more well-known aspect of Nation United is the elite-level club team that consists of 50-75 percent players from underrepresented backgrounds and geographic areas throughout the country. The team competes in two tournaments a year to showcase the incredible talents of these young men from diverse backgrounds. 

Just as important as the tournaments, the Ambassadors of Nation United cultivate long-lasting relationships with teammates and coaches from a variety of backgrounds, receive guidance on college recruitment, and participate in service-based events to develop a sense of commitment to community.

Sterlyn says, “Playing with Nation United feels like a dream come true. Being able to play with other elite players who look like me is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

After a successful inaugural season for the boys’ national team, which posted an 11-2 record, Nation United is also striving to offer the same experience to elite-level female high school lacrosse players. Applications are currently being accepted and the leaders of the organization are actively reaching out to girls to make them aware of the opportunity to be involved in everything Nation United has to offer. 

“Ultimately, I hope that through Nation United we are creating and leaving a footprint that will impact the sport for decades to come,” says Chazz Woodson, co-founder and boys’ national team coach. “We’re teaching our kids the importance of ambassadorship and being caretakers of the game.”

It is Nation United’s hope that they can use the showcase teams to inspire diversity among young new lacrosse players and provide the resources and skill development for those athletes aspiring to succeed in the sport.

It wasn’t too long ago these two young men were trying lacrosse for the first time on opposite sides of the country. Now they each have a long list of accolades, including being Under Armour All-Americans. 

Isaiah is a 2018 Harvard commit, and Sterlyn is a 2018 Hofstra commit. And for life, these young men will serve as ambassadors of the sport and continue to impact young lacrosse players everywhere.