A senior at St. Petersburg Catholic High School is helping lead an initiative to build diversity and promote inclusion in sports.
Joshua Hughes says he was motivated to take action after experiencing racism first hand on the lacrosse field.
What You Need To Know
- A local high school lacrosse player is helping lead the effort to promote diversity in the sport
- Joshua Hughes says he experienced racism from former teammates and coaches
- The New York Times reported that only about 2% of Division I lacrosse players are Black
- Related Coverage: 2nd Bullying Lawsuit Filed Against Admiral Farragut Academy
“There were certain people who wanted to keep the sport to a certain group of people,” he said. “[I had to] deal with some people who don’t accept African Americans in lacrosse.”
Hughes said, on teams he played for previously, he was treated like an outsider by lacrosse teammates and even some coaches. He recalls one event when a player called him the “N-word” and other times when coaches shrugged off discriminatory behavior towards him.
“For me, it was a really odd feeling and something that I’ll never forget — my first time stepping out onto a the lacrosse field. I realized I was on my own, and I can do something that can change the culture of my community and be a positive role model for other men,” he said.
Statistics show that well over half of NFL and NBA players are Black, while a 2013 New York Times report found only about 2% of Division I lacrosse players are Black.
“My biggest challenge was finding myself in the game – dealing with people who don’t accept African American’s in Lacrosse.”
— Ashonti Ford TV (@AshontiFordBN9) August 29, 2021
“The biggest challenge was finding myself in the sport,” Hughes said. “It was a big difference for me because I had never played a sport where there was no one else who looked like me on the field.”
Hughes says he switched from football to lacrosse at an early age. And even though that change came with new obstacles, he says his parents, mentors and current lacrosse coaches helped motivate him to stick with it.
“The game has really changed and evolved for me,” he said. “Now, I’m on multiple national travel teams. I was an impact athlete in June of 2020 for U.S lacrosse.”
Hughes and several other lacrosse players are teaming up with coaches to lead the We Stand Initiative, which encourages diversity and inclusion in all sports.
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