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The Hampton University men’s lacrosse team made history this past weekend as the first from an HBCU to play at the Division I level in the sport. Despite the sport’s Native American roots, it has largely been viewed as a sport for the rich, white and elite but Hampton Pirates coach Lloyd Carter is aiming to change that perception.

The last time a HBCU fielded a men’s lacrosse team was back in 1970 when Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. formed one of the nation’s top squads. Carter, a West Baltimore native, starred for the Morgan State Bears, which defeated top squads at larger Division I schools despite their Division II classification.

Many of the players on the 17-member, all-Black Pirates squad are newcomers to the sport although some one player had exposure to the sport via boarding school. In Coach Carter’s native Baltimore, Black and Brown students are taking up the sport, which is rapidly increasing in popularity as an extracurricular activity.

The Pirates weren’t too impressive in their recent match with the Division II Wesleyan Roberts Redhawks, losing  20-3. While Carter recognizes the hard work ahead of him and his team to improve to an elite level, he says he’s confident his players will meet the challenges ahead of them.

The Hampton program was inspired by a former student, Michael Crawford, who died in 2010 from heart issues. Crawford introduced the idea of a club team at the school, and his mother, Verina Crawford, continued to push for the creation of the team in honor of her son.

Ms. Crawford sought out Carter’s assistance to coach when he was working for the Baltimore Fire Department and coaching high school lacrosse Crawford and her husband have since moved to Newport News, Va. from Brooklyn, N.Y. to support Carter and the team.

(Photo: Hampton University)

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