As future leaders of the Coast Guard, cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) find themselves uniquely poised to begin their selfless service to others, and for one particular academy team, their service began with tackling the issue of diversity.
In an aim to reach more diverse communities the men’s lacrosse teams from USCGA and Morgan State University (MSU) partnered in a day of community building and fellowship held last Sunday in Baltimore, Md.
The cadets were paired up with children from the Baltimore community where they were able to make a positive impact on the local youth as they mentored them during a hands-on clinic.
The clinic was hosted through the U.S. Lacrosse Building Relationships to Initiate Diversity Growth and Enrichment (BRIDGE) program. BRIDGE programs, established nationwide, bring the sport of lacrosse at the forefront of creating positive influences and life-skill lessons to youth in communities not previously exposed to the sport.
Petty Officer 1st Class Perry Holmes, a Coast Guard recruiter in Baltimore, hopes that the past weekend’s event, and others in the future, will serve as a connection to diverse communities, and in turn, allow the students to recognize the Coast Guard as a career opportunity.
“Establishing this relationship through initiatives such as what was achieved this past weekend serve as a bridge to the community,” said Holmes. “By partnering and building relationships with the Baltimore community we are fostering the diversity so necessary for our service.”
Lloyd Carter, a Deputy Chief with the Baltimore City Fire Department as well as president of the local BRIDGE affiliate, Blax Lax Inc., also saw this as a significant event for both teams.
“It was a great conduit for the melding of the culture of inner-city life with that of a prestigious military institution such as the U.S. Coast Guard through the wonderful game of lacrosse,” said Carter. “As some of our student-athletes look for future endeavors via the sport of lacrosse I will whole heatedly recommend that they choose the Coast Guard as a very viable option.”
The event ended in a scrimmage of both highly competitive lacrosse programs, which was not only exciting to watch, but also celebrated diversity in the sport of lacrosse itself. MSU was the first and, for a long time, the only historically black college or university to field a lacrosse team. The success of their dominant team of the 1970s was chronicled in the book Ten Bears .
The USCGA men’s lacrosse program, in their partnership with MSU, has taken the call for diversity as a leadership commitment to heart. The valuable lessons they learn as cadets and athletes will have fleet-wide impacts, as they will soon be propelled directly into positions of leadership as junior officers in the Coast Guard.