Jen Nardi, executive director of the Brooklyn Crescents club program in New York, tells a sad story about a young player in her program. 

During a summer tournament, this 11-year-old player, who is African-American, was on the receiving end of inappropriate, racially-motivated comments from players on the other team. They were damaging and hurtful words that could have potentially left a long-term negative impact on this young player. If not for the support of his teammates and coaches, the situation could have been much worse. 

“The impact can be significant and severe,” Nardi said. “Fortunately, he got through it, but in another circumstance, it could have turned that young player away from lacrosse forever.”

More recently, Native American star Lyle Thompson was the target of cruel and racist comments during a National Lacrosse League game in Philadelphia. The incident drew significant national attention and fueled much public discussion and social media attention.

To help bring greater sensitivity to these types of scenarios, US Lacrosse has developed a new resource to help lacrosse players, coaches and leaders to be more effective in relating to each other and with members of their organizations. 

The newly-launched US Lacrosse Cultural Competency Course, an online training tool, is designed to help provide insight on understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion.

The course is offered for free to everybody, however, non-US Lacrosse members will need to create an online profile via uslacrosse.org in order to login.

US Lacrosse seeks to lead efforts to make lacrosse a more inclusive, accessible and tolerant sport, where anyone can play and everyone feels welcome and respected.

“We felt it was important to share the unique cultural history of our game that has always placed an importance on inclusion of all people,” said Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse. “Born from Native American roots, lacrosse has long accepted that all participants are significant and have a contribution to make to the overall cycle of life. For that reason, great importance has always been placed on inclusion.”

The course is divided into four main modules, in addition to a brief introductory section and a conclusion. Specific learning objectives are provided for each module to assist the user in navigating that section. The main module topics are:

• Implicit Bias
• Micro-aggression
• Social Class
• Building Inclusive Teams and Inclusive Leadership

Marty Delaney, director of Parkville (Md.) Adaptive Lacrosse, says that inclusion is critical for the continued growth of the game.

“As lacrosse spreads its influence, it’s important that those already in the sport accept and embrace all newcomers,” he said.

As the course explains, exclusion and insensitivity are not always intentional. Former Major League Lacrosse (MLL) player Jovan Miller says that bias is often exhibited unintentionally.

“During my playing career, I sometimes had to nudge a teammate and tell them that they were coming off in a certain way that they didn’t even realize,” he said. “Sometimes, bias comes through in the messages that we send unconsciously.”

Two-time U.S Men’s National Team member and MLL veteran Kyle Harrison notes that intentional nurturing of an inclusive environment must be a priority for team leaders.

“Creating a team culture where everyone feels comfortable, empowered and included is arguably the most important thing a coach can do,” Harrison said. “I loved the cultural competency course and I think everyone involved in our sport should take the course. It's a great way to push yourself to think differently about how you approach coaching, playing, or interacting with people in the sport.”
 

Cultural Competency

New online training tool is designed to help provide further understanding about the importance of inclusion.

Learn More