Editor’s Note: These words from Connecticut Hammerheads goaltender and Rutgers grad Kris Alleyne were originally published through Untold Athletes. Lacrosse All Stars will be collaborating with Untold Athletes to amplify player voices and support athletes across the globe.
Lacrosse has been everything to me since I started playing in the fourth grade. The game has taught me so many character traits that translate to my everyday life. Leadership, handling adversity, hard work, etc. This game has given me so much in terms of education, lifelong relationships, travel and now as I get older, it’s my turn to give back as much as I possibly can for the next generation of athletes.
The 2016 Rutgers lacrosse season is an experience I rely heavily on. The way we were able to come together as a unit, set aside all outside noise and place all of our focus on the process led to us having some success. Although we ultimately fell short of our end goal, I find myself looking back to the lessons from that year both on and off the field.
I feel sports have become too hyper-focused on the next level instead of focusing on the level you’re currently at. While it is obviously great to dream and those dreams can propel you to getting to that next level, you can’t let that ruin your love of the game. Always remember why you started playing the game anytime it gets tough. Become obsessed with the process of improving. No 1/2 measures. Do everything with full effort. Academics, sport, fitness, social.
Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, playing lacrosse at a young age – I didn’t necessarily feel any differently because I was Black. It took until about middle school where I started realizing I was ‘different’. People would always be surprised to hear I was a lacrosse player when they first met me, and even more surprised that I was a goalie. Before I got to Rutgers, I only had two other Black teammates.
One memory that always comes to mind when asked about the negative experiences as a Black player in a predominately white sport came when I was in early high school. Following a winter league game, which my team won, a player from the other team murmured,
“Good game, but you’re still a n*****”
in the handshake line. This was the first time in my life I had experienced hate simply because of the color of my skin. I’m thankful that my teammates had my back and stepped up to the kid immediately after it happened. Looking back it made me realize that despite the majority of people I know who do have my back, unfortunately there is a minority that do not.
I love this game, and my love for it is why I want to be on the front lines of making it better than I found it. There will be highs and lows along this journey. Unfortunately there will be insistences of prejudice and bigotry, but how you navigate this is incredibly important. Continue to educate yourself and those around you, because to make change it takes leadership. In order to improve inclusion in our sport and beyond is to make it an even playing field in terms of acceptance. No player at any age should feel they don’t belong in a sport because of their background, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
No voice or action is too small, continue to fight to stand up for what you believe in. It’s not linear. I didn’t wake up one day and want to advocate for something bigger than myself, but your action may be enough to begin that chain reaction of giving others a voice where they may not have felt they had one prior.
– Kris Alleyne
Connecticut Hammerheads Goalie
Canisius College Assistant Coach