Paul and Mike Rabil had a vision to change the landscape of professional lacrosse in 2018. They have done so by creating a venture-capital-based league that has grown from an initial six teams to now eight. Their tour-based model has brought professional lacrosse from the traditional hotbeds of Baltimore and Long Island to emerging markets like Salt Lake City and now Seattle. The PLL transformed professional lacrosse on the field for the players and fans, but that was only part of the vision. The PLL has taken up the torch of growing and honoring the game beyond the field through initiatives like PLL Assists.
PLL Assists is a game changer in professional sports. Rather than “sticking to sports,” the PLL has sought to build more inclusive, empathetic, and healthy communities. They have taken an active role in helping to change the narrative and increase access to lacrosse. The mission of PLL Assists drives home the inclusive nature and Grow the Game mentality.
PLL Assists works to proactively navigate social change, bring awareness to marginalized members of society, garner support for those in need, and foster continual growth of our great sport.
Origins of PLL Assists
PLL Assists was the second announcement from the league back in 2018, a week after announcing the formation of the Premier Lacrosse League. It was announced with three goals in mind.
- Growth of the game
- Fighting cancer
- Supporting Our veterans
As the team continually reevaluated, revamped, and expanded the program, the three goals were expanded to six, to better reflect all of the important work that the PLL and PLL Assists were doing in various arenas to give back to the community.
- Build inclusive, empathetic, and antiracist locker rooms in lacrosse
- Enable healthy living through the support of our veterans and fight against cancer
- Honor the heritage of the game
- Increase educational opportunity and access in our communities
- Develop a more diverse sport
- Promote environmental sustainability
The program works with non-profit organizations, domestic and international, to combat physical and mental illnesses, promote diversity and inclusion in the sport, honor the creators of the game, make a positive impact on the environment, support service members, and create access to the sport of lacrosse in communities that may not otherwise have it.
PLL Assists Leadership
Lacrosse All Stars wanted to learn more about PLL Assists and take fans behind the scenes into the past, present, and future of the program. To do that, we are working closely with Kyle Harrison, Director of Players and Inclusion, along with Eric Mathieu, Director of PLL Assists.
Kyle Harrison joined the PLL in 2018 with a focus on athlete acquisition, player relations, and helping to build out the lacrosse operations team. In 2019, Kyle became more involved in the Assists part of the business. In the fall of 2019, the PLL rolled all DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives under the PLL Assists umbrella under Kyle’s management.
Kyle spent 17 years playing professionally in both the MLL and PLL and for the US National Team in 2006 and 2014. In his three years playing in the PLL, Kyle was a 2X All-Star, 2X Winner of the Brendan Looney Leadership Award, and 3X Captain of the Redwoods Lacrosse Club.
On the field, Kyle transformed the game with hard work, commitment, and dedication. He has sought to bring that same energy and passion to the Assists initiative. Looking to create a more welcoming lacrosse environment.
“As a black player in a predominantly white sport, creating welcoming environments, and inclusion has always been something top of mind for me and something I’ve wanted to impact within the sport. PLL Assists was the second announcement in league history, and on an annual basis, we’ve deepened our commitment and investment into our Assists initiatives and partners, and will continue to drive change. I couldn’t be more excited to have Eric step into a leadership role, and help take Assists to the next level.“
– Kyle Harrison, Director of Players & Inclusion
Eric Mathieu joined the Premier Lacrosse League in the fall of 2020. Since then, he’s worked with Kyle to support the PLL’s charitable and D&I initiatives and help grow PLL Assists.
In August of 2022, he was named Director of PLL Assists. Eric has a background in diversity, equity and inclusion work, education, and law. While in law school, he clerked at the National Football League and currently supports the PLL’s legal department along with his current roll with Assists.
Eric shared with us how PLL Assists can foster a more inclusive environment and open the game to communities that may have traditionally felt “out of place.”
“The work that we’re doing with PLL Assists is deeply personal to me. I was once the young black boy who often felt ‘out of place’ trying to navigate the lacrosse world. The Premier Lacrosse League and PLL Assists’ commitment to changing the stigma around lacrosse, increasing access to the sport, and supporting members of our communities, makes this a truly special organization to be a part of. Working with my lacrosse idol, Kyle Harrison, to enact this growth has been incredible. The two of us, along with Paul and Mike Rabil, and the league at large, feel a responsibility to give back to the sport we love, pay homage to the Indigenous Nations who created the “Medicine Game,” and make a positive impact in every community we touch. I look forward to working towards PLL Assists’ continued growth, as we look to increase that impact, raise meaningful funds, and work to make the sport more accessible to all.”
– Eric Mathieu, Director of PLL Assists
In the coming weeks, Lacrosse All Stars will work closely with Kyle and Eric to take a deeper dive into some past and future PLL Assists initiatives.
This article was written in collaboration with Kyle Harrison and Eric Mathieu.