Kyle Harrison (18) tries to get past Duke’s Tony McDevitt during the NCAA lacrosse national championship on May 30, 2005 in Philadelphia (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Miles Kennedy).
Lacrosse star Kyle Harrison has gotten accustomed to the role of trailblazer.
He cannot help it because blazing a trail for others and not following the trail others expected him to follow is in his blood.
His father Dr. Miles Harrison, Jr. was a pioneer on the first all-Black lacrosse team at Morgan State University and being exposed to the vast opportunities less popular sports could offer him, it is no surprise that he took the road less traveled.
Kyle Harrison’s success with the Ohio Machine and six Major League Lacrosse (MLL) All-Star Game selections has motivated him to encourage young people in the Black community to look at the opportunities that sports other than football and basketball can provide for them.
“I got to go to…Johns Hopkins University because I play lacrosse,” Kyle Harrison told RegalMag.com. “It’s just another alternative and we have to show kids there is another sport.”
Because of the trials and tribulations and blessings afforded to his father and Morgan State teammates, Harrison knew early in life that there were more opportunities available than other peers from the community knew about.
Like many children from the Black community, Dr. Harrison entered Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, focused on sports that they grew up playing in the community.
In Dr. Harrison’s case that was baseball and swimming.
However, because of his athleticism coaches encouraged him to take up the lacrosse stick and with several of his football buddies, formed the first all-Black lacrosse team in college history.
Although Dr. Harrison’s time on the lacrosse field did provide excitement and joy, because of the era in which he played, racial discrimination did sometimes come with the territory.
Nevertheless, those trials and tribulations did pave the way for his son to win a NCAA championship at Johns Hopkins in 2005, play internationally for the United States, play professionally, and appear at the 2015 MLL All-Star Game, which took place in Houston (“Lone Star State”) on June 13.
Kyle Harrison was the only Black Major League Lacrosse player to make the 2015 All-Star Game.
“Without [those pioneers from Morgan State], I’m not in this situation, so I’m very thankful,” Kyle Harrison said after the All-Star Game, a 27-15 victory by the Gladiators (Harrison’s team) over the Cowboys. In the game, Harrison went scoreless with two shots on goal and one groundball.
Kyle Harrison is now determined to educate younger children in the Black community on the many opportunities that they have in sports, but are probably unaware of because of a lack of exposure.
Although he is confident that lacrosse will grow in popularity in the Black community in the very near future, he is very aware of the ridicule that comes with being a trendsetter and a pioneer.
Attending a private high school in Baltimore, Harrison was also an excellent basketball player.
However, when he would show up at the basketball court after lacrosse practice with very short lacrosse shorts on he got a lot of unwanted, negative attention from his peers.
His friends first wanted to know what in the world lacrosse was and why he was wearing such short shorts when hoopers (basketball players) preferred their shorts a lot longer.
Nevertheless, once he found out the opportunities that he would have, namely attending a prestigious institution like Johns Hopkins, he was all in with lacrosse, despite the skeptics and doubters.
Kyle Harrison told RegalMag.com that only a small number of football and basketball players make it, but in lacrosse anyone can make it, regardless of height and weight.
And although he is the lone star when it comes to Black Major League Lacrosse players in 2015, he encourages young Black kids to look at the course that he has blazed as an example of the many possibilities that life has to offer.
With lacrosse, they too can attend a top academic college like Johns Hopkins University.
With lacrosse, they too can represent their country in international competition.
And with lacrosse, they too can follow in his footsteps and become a MLL All-Star too.
Fortunately, all it takes is one trailblazer to open the trail for others to follow in the footsteps of their greatness.