Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black History Month and Lacrosse

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

This month is one for reflection of the many great things that people of colour have done in the world such as Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Tiger Woods. Lacrosse (NLL, MLL and NCAA) does have links with black players. Without further ado here is the black history of lacrosse:
Jim Brown
Jim Brown the legendary running back of the Cleveland Browns is considered one of the greatest lacrosse players in NCAA history having 4 outstanding seasons at Syracuse all the while playing college football for the Orangemen.He grew up in an all-black community near Georgia. He was lucky enough to not have to deal with a lot of racism when he was raised by his grandmother. Brown moved to New York at the age of eight and became an all-around athlete. Brown said that if there was a professional league at the time he would have turned pro (The original NLL was not created until 1974).

The 1975 Team Picture for the Morgan State Black Bears
The Morgan State Black Bears from Baltimore, Maryland were one of the few all black Lacrosse teams in the NCAA and had tremendous success.The Bears placed in the top 25 four of five years between 1970-75 and made the championship tournament two times. These teams were led by Howard Silverman,who then retired after the 1975 season. Sadly this led to the Bears never having a winning season again. The Bears biggest accomplishment came when they upset the number one team in division II lacrosse in the form of Washington and Lee University, a team that had not lost a home game IN THREE YEARS! This is considered one of the largest upsets in intercollegiate history. is ranked in the top 25 of NCAA scoring, and became a powerhouse until the team was disbanded in 1981. Morgan State, is thankfully reviving its Lacrosse program and is reviving a history that is so rich the "10 Bears" will made into a movie soon.

Johnny Christmas playing for the Philadelphia Wings
The NLL has had black players also. The Boston Blazers had Brian J White suit up for them in 1996 and play in 2 games recording 4 loose balls and an assist. White has gone on to have a successful acting career and always speaks highly of his time playing pro Lax. More recently Johnny Christmas played for the Philly Wings for 5 seasons as a great role player and is very active in the US in promoting the growth of Lacrosse with his own foundation. More recently in the NLL is Travis Cornwall, a member of the Calgary Roughnecks (and former Minto Cup winner) has become regular member of the squad and hopefully can become a mainstay in the league.

Box lacrosse among African Americans, African Canadians and Caribbean Canadians has started to expand, but field lacrosse has shown the largest growth. Players like Kyle Harrison have dazzled in field. Kyle Harrison was the number one pick in the MLL draft in 2005, and graduated from Johns Hopkins, one of the most prestigious lacrosse schools in America. The Success of black people in lacrosse has not only been limited to just playing but coaching as well as the head coach of the MLL's Boston Cannons is Bill Daye who led Boston to their 2nd straight league title in 2011 and was named coach of the year. 

Lacrosse among the black community is starting to shape into something that could be incredible in the next few years. Being a black lacrosse writer is something that I am proud of and who knows what we could have next? The sky's the limit for equality in the sport coming from a black lacrosse writer. 

That's all for now I'm Avry and I'm out follow me on twitter at @Avry.

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