Former Princeton player and current club coach Beth Lyman began her tenure as the new chair of the US Lacrosse Board of Directors on Aug. 1.

For anyone that’s ever played lacrosse, they know it’s not just another game.

For Beth Lyman, the word that comes to mind is "magic."

"There’s something really special about lacrosse," Lyman said. "There’s a magic to this sport. I know others feel it too. Its roots in Native American culture, the speed and intensity of the game, its community."

Growing up in Massachusetts, Lyman played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire before going on to Princeton. There she played field hockey and lacrosse, serving as a lacrosse captain under Hall of Fame coach Chris Sailer.

"The relationships I have made through the sport have been some of the most meaningful in my life," Lyman said.

After Princeton, Lyman moved to Minneapolis to join General Mills in its Executive Development Program. After a brief stint back east to complete her MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Lyman returned to Minneapolis just as lacrosse was beginning to get off the ground in the state. She got involved as an administrator and coach and continues coaching today. 

"I get to share my love of the game and make a difference in the lives of young women," Lyman said. "Coaching my two daughters has been a great source of joy for me. My sons never played, but my daughters love it." 

Her daughter Annie played collegiately at Denver and then Trinity. Her younger daughter Cynthia plays for Blake School and for Team Minnesota where Lyman is the 2024 head coach.

Now she finds herself deepening her connection to the sport. On Aug. 1, Lyman officially began her tenure as the chair of the US Lacrosse Board of Directors.

"Right from day one I felt immediately welcomed," said Lyman, who began her time on the US Lacrosse Executive Committee (EC) two years ago as vice chair. "I’ve been impressed with the level of engagement and have gotten to know the EC members quite well. They’re deeply invested in the organization, skilled at what they do, and their thoughtful perspectives are shared candidly. You can’t ask for more."

Lyman takes over from Ed Calkins, another former Princeton lacrosse player, who just ended a two-year tenure as the board chair, but will remain on the Board leadership team for the next two years as the past chair. Andrew Lee, previously the secretary of the board, and current chair of the Native American Council, moves into Lyman’s old role of vice chair and will be replaced by four-time U.S. team world champion Sarah Bullard McDaniel in the secretary role.

Other members of the EC include Christianne Malone (at-large), Kristen Garlinghouse (at-large), George Graffy (treasurer) and non-voting counsel members Larry Quinn and Tom Whiteford.

The larger US Lacrosse board also welcomed two new members in August — Darren Lowe and Courtney Farrell Shute.

For Lyman, the board appointment is a chance to serve her sport in a new way: to be "all in" with US Lacrosse. "It’s a really exciting opportunity for me to give back. I’ve been running businesses and building brands my whole career. If I can add value to the US Lacrosse team, it’s a privilege."

In recent years, US Lacrosse has shifted its structure to be more customer-focused. "We are deepening our relationships with local leagues to better understand their pressure points, and making changes in how we support them.  Their needs differ and we’ve evolved our funding model to better serve them."

Lyman sees potential in continuing this shift by building a deeper connection to individual members. "The last few years, we’ve really shifted to a focus on member value," Lyman said.

"There is a lot of opportunity for US Lacrosse to connect on an individual level with every lacrosse player, every coach, every official" Lyman said. "The US Lacrosse team is tireless in its work to support coaches, make the game more accessible, safer, and more fun. We run the National Team program too; not many people know that. The average player or parent isn’t aware of all we do to better the sport. We just haven’t focused on building those relationships enough. With awareness will come loyalty, gratitude, and pride in supporting the work that we do."

The pandemic has forced that to the forefront. With the stoppage in play, membership has dropped off.

"Typically, parents buy a membership when they register their child for league or tournament play," Lyman said. "With a significant drop-off in play, our revenue numbers are down. It is certainly a critical juncture for us. Our work hasn’t stopped with the interruption in play; it’s ongoing and shifting to meet the needs of our players and families.

“A great example is our Sports Science and Safety work. US Lacrosse is leading the conversation about how to return to sport safely – there are a lot of factors parents need to consider and we have brought the science to them in a digestible form."

“With respect to anti-racism,” Lyman said, “we have a long way to go in this area, but we as a board, and US Lacrosse as an organization, are having the tough conversations and taking a hard look at ourselves and our predominantly white sport. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is — and always has been — mission-critical to us, but we are re-doubling our efforts. It’s not enough to create access and opportunity for People of Color; we must ensure their experience is a positive one. The work doesn’t stop with putting a stick in their hands. Inclusion is core to the lacrosse culture and experience. We are committed to it. Without that feeling of belonging, players aren’t getting the lacrosse experience. They aren’t getting the magic.  We won’t stop until we can deliver on that promise.”