HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As sports leagues continue their national dialogue on diversity and inclusion, minority lacrosse players say the time is now to expand opportunities for athletes in underserved communities.
Black athletes represent only 3.5% and people of color represent 2.8% of collegiate lacrosse players, according to NCAA data, but Jovan Miller hopes to change that.
The former Syracuse All-American mid-fielder is partnering with Nation United Texas Lacrosse to call for more inclusion in the sport.
"Get comfortable in discomfort," Miller said, addressing a room of young athletes at Houston Baptist University last week. "Want to know why? Because that's when growth happens."
Reflecting on his time at Syracuse, where he was only one of two Black athletes on the lacrosse team, Miller said he had to hold firm to his blackness to produce results.
He went on to become the school's second Lacrosse All-American, only behind Jim Brown in 1955.
"Number one, can you ball?" he asked the athletes. "If you can't ball, the college coaches do not care about you being Black, white, green, yellow, or red. Number two, when you get accustomed to being the only Black person of person of color on the team, are you able to maintain your authenticity?"
Under the leadership of Mike Song, the Nation United Texas Lacrosse organization thrives on its mission to give minorities and people of color the chance to rise.
Song said the sport would benefit greatly from more diversity.
"It is of great value that we grow this sport in Texas so that our youth has equal opportunity to these avenues towards higher education," Song said.
Through grassroots community outreach programs and select club teams, Song said Nation United is striving to close the gap.
You can learn more about Nation United Texas Lacrosse on its website.
Lacrosse players urge leagues to make room for diverse athletes